Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Decorations and Such- The Frugal Way

This is my first Christmas not living at home, so I thought I'd show off a few of my decorations and things. I only decorated the living room and the kitchen, and I discovered that I have TONS of decorations. Several boxes' worth had to go back in the closet!


The Christmas tree- fake, and purchased at 50% off several years ago.


Sale priced ornaments and lights, some 90% off decorations that I bought during the ice storm.


Hand-made Christmas tree pot holders .25 for two at a yard sale. Candy cane decoration and stockings were free.

Sale priced doilies, bead garland, and three .10 Christmas trees. Box of junk in the back FREE.
Presents! Featuring sale priced wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows.

More presents! Featuring a reused gift bag and reused ribbon.





Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ha Ha Ha...Ow

Okay, it snowed and iced a bit here last week, but most of it has melted off. So tell me how- HOW- do I find the only bit of ice-like substance left in the parking lot? And why is it that that ice-like substance is located in the FRONT of the building where there are multiple office windows and the conference room windows?*

I have a talent. And slightly bruised knees.




*I don't think anybody actually saw me fall. I also checked the conference room and it was, thankfully, empty.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random Kitty Pictures

I can't seem to get any pictures of her where she doesn't blink and/or look evil. But she's still pretty cute. :P









Tuesday, December 11, 2007

HP Ink Cartridge Rebate

I needed to buy ink for my HP printer/scanner/copier, particularly since I have Staples ink coupons handy. After a little searching, I also found a $10 rebate on double packs of HP ink. Here is the ink rebate if you need it.

Total cost:
$26.99 for 2 cartridges
-$9.00 ink coupons (3)
+.76 tax
$18.75
- .52 that I'll get back from shopping through Ebates
-$10.00 rebate
$8.23 for two black ink cartridges, or $4.12 each. Not bad!

Refilling My Gift Tub: Frugal Toys

Lately I've read a lot of posts on why people are no longer going to buy things to have for their gift closet or that they need to cut back in doing so. My gifts are stored in a large Sterilite tub in a spare closet. For the first time in a year, the gift tub is nearly empty!

For the most part, I try to purchase gifts that have intended recipients, not a bunch of stuff that may or may not be given. I do, however, think it's handy to have extra baby and wedding gifts on hand that can be paired with something inexpensive off a gift registry.

This is a great time of year to be on the lookout for deals on gifts for next year. I already have my mom (March birthday) and sister-in-law (April birthday)'s birthdays completed.

Today, I purchased a bunch of toys off Amazon for next year. I bought 11 toys and only one does not have an intended recipient/occasion. I always buy from Amazon's toy sales because they have nice stuff that gets deeply discounted several times per year. If you are in need of toys, I recommend checking it out!

Total cost before sale: $205.89. Total cost of my order: $62.98- $25.00 gift card (from my credit card rewards program)= a grand total of $37.98. I will also keep watching the prices because they do price adjustments. ;)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Something From Nothing

Today at about 3pm I remembered that I have to bring food to work tomorrow. I am on the wellness committee at work, and we have a once a month "carry in" with healthy dishes. So I now had to think of a healthy dish to bring in. I brought a rice-and-beans dish last time, so that was a no go this time. Add to this the fact that I am nearly out of most perishable groceries. I had plenty of canned stuff and some frozen. And I was NOT in the mood to grocery shop in this rainy/icy gross weather. I decided to make a homemade chicken noodle soup. I improvised the recipe using stuff that I have, but it seemed to taste okay to me!

Yay for being able to come up with low cost, healthy meal options without spending extra money. :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ice Storm, Shmice Storm

Remember the horrible ice storm last year that shut off everyone's electricity for weeks? Well, the weather folks have warned that we may be having a similar event starting today and lasting through Tuesday. It has been mostly raining so far where I live with some ice accumulation that happened last night. It hasn't been anything to write home about just yet. People are VERY nervous about this because of what happened last year.

I don't think it's going to be as bad as last year, with the electricity going off for weeks. Here's why:
1) Most tree limbs are not anywhere near the power lines. This is because, frankly, most of them snapped off during last year's storm. Those that remained were trimmed back after the storm.
2) I am prepared. Things *never* happen when you're prepared. I have tons of extra batteries, flashlights with fresh batteries, and a lantern that operates from being hand-cranked. I also have a full tank of gas, food, and I live in town.

We shall see!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Today's Walgreens Purchase

Purchased:
*3-pack of Scotch brand gift wrap tape $1.00- I bought two (Note: This is the only thing that I REFUSE to do generic on. I use Scotch tape or nothin' due to a traumatic Christmas-present-wrapping several years ago.)
*Glade Wisp $7.99
*Revlon blush $9.79
*Jane Be Pure Mineral Cosmetics Powder $5.99
*Revlon eyelash curler $3.79
Total: $29.56

Coupons used:
$2.00 off any Jane Cosmetics
$2.00 off any Revlon Cosmetics
$4.00 off Glade Wisp
Eyelash curler was free (BOGO), so $3.99
Total: $11.99

Rebates that will be used:
$5.99 for the Jane Powder
$1.00 for one of the Scotch tapes
$3.00 for the Glade Wisp
Total: $9.99

Total Amount: $29.56
Total Saved: $21.98
Total Actually Spent: $7.58+ tax, but I didn't actually spend anything out of pocket. I paid with a Walgreens giftcard from previous rebates. :P

The Scotch tape deal is REALLY good (3 rolls for $1). Even if you don't want to do the rebate to get one FREE, 3 for $1 is still a great price.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yesterday Was My Half Birthday...

...and I am now officially 25.5. I am quickly heading out of my "middle twenties" and careening toward "late twenties". Say it ain't so.

Staples Fun is Here Again!

Remember all the great deals I used to get at Staples because of those $3 ink coupons? And how bummed I was when they stopped shipping every order for free?

Well. Staples fun is back, my friends! Now through December 26th they are shipping every order for free.

Guess who exchanged 10 ink cartridges for $30 worth of coupons today? Muahahahahaha!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Blessings

Lately I haven't posted much about my life, whereas in last year's posts I talked about it all the time. Part of that is because I was miserable last year and I am not this year! :P

Basically, things are great. I love my internship. It is perfect in many ways. It is not exactly what I want to be doing, but it is great training. I enjoy my new church, my apartment, my cat, my family, my friends- even though many are far away now. I am enjoying figuring out where I'll be and what I'll be doing next year, although that can also be stressful.

In short, I could not be happier. Everyday I see all of these blessings that God has laid out for me and I am so grateful. Things are so much better than I ever imagined they could be.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Frugal Baby Gift, Part One Million

This is my most recent baby gift. It is not as frugal as some gifts that I have previously made, but I did not have much in my gift stockpile to use. It was also for a close friend, so I felt justified in spending more than my usual. :P I spent about $20 at Old Navy on baby clothes (2 shirts, 1 onesie), which are wrapped in tissue recycled from my swap gift back in the spring. I later learned that I had a coupon I could've used, so that bummed me out a little. $4 was spent at Kohl's on pajamas (also wrapped in tissue). The diapers and one set of the wipes were purchased for free on a CVS giftcard that I had from when I transferred a prescription several months ago. Well, I actually owed .03, but the sales clerk paid it for me so that I wouldn't have to use my debit card. :P I paid $1.50 for another box of wipes and included three free diaper samples that I had. The cellophane wrapper came from Dollar Tree (2/$1) and everything is tied up with a bit of yard sale ribbon. I also made my own card, which is not pictured. Total cost: ~$26.

Happy Birthday, Auntie!

Love,
Your Darling Niece

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Camera Cord

I've finally purchased a new camera cord, so I should be back up and posting pictures soon. I think I'll be starting with pictures of a recent baby gift, some Christmas packaging, and Christmas decorations! This will happen on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

$20 off of $50 at Shoebuy


Paypal is having some good holiday promotions if you checkout at certain merchants using their system. You can view the list here. I think the best deal is $20 off of a $50 purchase at Shoebuy. I actually needed some shoes: shoes for exercising, that is. Saucony makes great shoes that fit my weird feet perfectly. My previous Sauconys (Sauconies?) were in bad shape. I bought these Grid Excursions for $44.95. However, I had some money left in my Paypal account from taking surveys and mystery shopping, so I actually only paid about $2 out of pocket. Gotta love these deals!

Monday, November 19, 2007

How to Spend $4.14 at J.C. Penney for 4 Items

Step One: Scan the store for any of those green 75% off signs. Hint: Look up and look for the green!

Step Two: Locate a cute printed hoodie shirt for $1.97, a black striped button down shirt (part of a gift) for $3.97, a dark denim pencil skirt for $3.97, and a brown pencil skirt for $3.97.

Step Three: Locate a cash register upstairs in the undergarments section where it is not busy. Smile when the clerk notes that your items are a great deal. Produce a $10 off any purchase coupon and smile more when the clerk notes that the items are really a good deal now. Fail to notice that the clerk has left the INK security tag on the shirt you intend to give as a gift.

Step Four: Pay via your debit card because you had to use a MasterCard for this coupon. Laugh in the face of the credit industry. Note that your receipt says that you saved $120.12 on your purchase today. Guffaw at the thought of spending full price at J.C. Penney.

Step Five: Arrive home (an hour away from the store) and note that the shirt you intend to give for a gift (along with a giftcard to Express) still has the stupid ink-releasing security tag on it. Try to pry it off for a while before realizing that is REALLY not a good idea. Decide you'll figure out what to do about it later.

Step Six: Lament the fact that your camera cord is not working and that you are unable to show the world your great purchase. Blog about it with words only.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lessons Learned From NC Trip

1) Flying is fun!
2) Finding a baggie of marijuana in your hotel room will net you one free night's stay + a $25 credit.
3) People in North Carolina are really nice.
4) You can save a lot of money on food by eating breakfast, lunch, and (if possible) dinner at the conference.
5) I love integrated health care.
6) I am VERY conflicted about what to do/where to work next year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Last Post of the Week

I won't be posting anymore this week because I am staying the night with my mama tomorrow so that I can get a super duper early start on Wednesday morn. I shall be back next week!

Until then, are you checking...

Frugal Village forums for encouragement/inspiration?

Slickdeals and Pinching Your Pennies for great deals (especially with Christmas around the corner)?

Organized Christmas forums for great ideas?

Well? Get going!

Flying!

Believe it or not, I have spent 25 years on this Earth without flying. That will change Wednesday when I fly to North Carolina for a conference. I'm pretty jazzed about going, but this should be an interesting experience for sure. ;) You know, with my fear of heights and all. Luckily, my fear of heights only happens when I'm not strapped in!

"You should just go ahead and drug yourself [with prescription meds]. If you're going to crash, you don't need to know that anyway. There's nothing you can do about it."
-Encouraging words from Auntie T.

Conversations About Money

Have you ever noticed that conversations about money are awkward at best, socially unacceptable at worst? Since I am still not exactly making the big bucks, these rules do not yet seem to apply to myself and to my friends. I have a feeling that the time to discuss money will soon be over with. I think we do a great disservice to ourselves by not discussing it. Especially since most people have no idea what to do with it!


A couple of weekends ago I went to visit my friend H who is on internship in Nebraska. I rode most of the way to Nebraska with H's sister M. I have noticed that these girls seem to be pretty smart about money. They are not diehard frugalites, but they do like to get the best deals on things and both use coupons for clothes shopping on a regular basis. M can be downright tightwaddish at times with some things (you know that makes me proud!), but both will spend the money for things they find important. Both also have savings accounts, a concept which seems to have escaped my generation. Both are younger than I am (H is 24 and M is 20). Both received what Stanley and Danko, authors of The Millionaire Next Door, term "economic outpatient care" from their parents in the form of school tuition. However, both work regularly and work long hours and have done so since age 16. Neither are spoiled brats or expect things to be handed to them even though they have been given certain things from their parents. Both are pleasant and fun to be around.



In the car ride up, M and I got to talking about someone who had inferred that she is a "princess" because they felt she had too much handed to her (which, by the way, is not true). This led to discussion about money and savings. I asked M about savings and if their parents taught them about money. She told me that their parents expected them to save money from a very young age. She also told me that their father would (and still does) regularly contribute a small amount to their savings accounts. Their father also taught them to not keep excess money in checking when it could be drawing interest in savings. M told me that they were also expected to have jobs and help support themselves.



Later that weekend, H and I got to talking about budgets, savings, and our current salaries. I had asked her how much she is putting into savings because I have no idea how much I should be saving right now. We make about the same amount currently, but her expenses are more than mine. This is mostly due to higher rent and having to drive quite a bit for her internship with a lower level of expense reimbursement than what I'm getting. H expressed some concern that her living expenses are eating up her paychecks with little left over to save. I was very impressed by this since most people my age DO NOT HAVE any savings to speak of, and most are WAY worse off financially than H is. And yet she is concerned! She had a written budget worked out before internship began, but they split her checks differently causing her budget to be basically invalid. H noted that she hoped to be able to save her expense checks once they started being deposited to her account.


The lessons I learned:
1) Talk to your children about money from a young age.
2) There are ways to provide things for your children with them remaining grateful, unspoiled people.
3) Teach them the importance of savings.


I really want to start talking to more people about money. I think the lessons learned would be invaluable!

Friday, November 02, 2007

From the Desk of Princess Ivy: Stupid Trips!


Greetings blog readers! I have appropriated The Human's blog today to give you a glimpse of what she is really like. On this blog she pretends to be so happy and frugal-minded, blah, blah, blah. Nonsense! She regularly forces me against my will into some type of carrying device and then takes me places that I DO NOT WANT to go (Well, I do sort of like the home of The Human's mother. She plays with me and pets me a lot.). My revenge against The Human has been to poop as much as possible everytime she puts me into this carrying device. Because of this, she has had to get rid of one soft carrying device and now is putting me in a larger hard-sided carrying device. I haven't been able to poop in this one yet because The Human does not allow me to eat right before getting into it. Just wait, Human. It is coming!
Today she forced me into the carrying device and took me to see another female Human. That Human forced me to stand on a table while she went to get some sort of instrument to peer into my ears. I jumped off the table and tried to hide in a corner, but the other Human pulled me back out and put me on the table again. I could tell that she was used to dealing with my species, so I decided not to put up a fight. The other female Human looked in my ears and combed my fur and listened to my heart. She told The Human that I am healthy except for "ear mites" and "fleas", whatever those are. The Human was not excited about this news, and the other Human gave her some suspicious looking items. When we got home, The Human held me down and squirted one of these items into my ears! I tried to shake the liquid out of my ears and into The Human's face, but I think she ducked in time. The Human then muttered something about it being "seven fifty per ear" and that I would feel better when it was over.
The Human had to "write a check" for quite a bit of money, and that pleased me greatly. If she is going to force me against my will, I will punish her by costing her money! Yes, indeed. I will cost her as much as possible.
I have to go now. The Human is coming with another suspicious item to squirt on me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still Alive and Kickin'

But busy busy. I'm going to Nebraska this weekend, so check back next week for (hopefully) new posts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How Cheap Can I Get a Subscription?

Answer: Pretty cheap. I like to get my magazine subscriptions for as little as possible. I wanted to subscribe to Outside magazine (I'm hoping it will make me more outdoorsy. Or more sportsy. Or somethingy.), which seems like a simple task. It only takes five easy steps:

Step 1: Check and see if Best Deal Magazines has any cheap subscriptions for Outside magazine. They do- 12 issues for $4.69.
Step 2: Close that window and visit Ebates to click through their Best Deal Magazines link. I will earn 10% back for clicking through Ebates.
Step 3: Google for coupons. Find one for 15% off.
Step 4: Check out and enter my 15% off coupon. My total is now $3.99 for 12 issues.
Step 5: Hope that I get .39 back through Ebates (sometimes they don't credit you if you use a coupon.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How to Make Rebates Work for You

Rebates are just one more way to make your dollars stretch and try stuff for free. Here's some tips to making it simple.

1) Be organized. I have a small binder with plastic pages dedicated to rebates. While I am fulfilling the rebate I collect receipts and forms in it. After I have sent it in, I keep a copy of the forms in it until I receive the check. Call the company if you haven't received the rebate in the specified period of time. I used to keep a running list of outgoing rebates for this purpose.

2) Read the small print. Make sure you read the form VERY CAREFULLY before purchasing anything. You may have to purchase all items in one transaction or need to mail in UPC codes.

3) Take advantage of them! They won't work if you aren't willing to use them. It takes very little effort to fill out a form and send it in. I still don't know why people don't take advantage of free offers.

4) Save more money. Use a coupon if you can to maximize savings and money out-of-pocket.

5) Sell the stuff. I once bought software from Staples that was free after rebate and then turned around and sold it on eBay for a profit. Make sure you are truthful in your listing and disclose if you removed a UPC symbol or any other part.

6) Save the money. This is such an easy way to beef up your savings account. With the exception of Walgreens rebates (which I receive in giftcard form), I save all of my rebate checks. I just purchase the item and deduct it from my checking account as usual. By the time the check arrives, I've forgotten all about spending that money anyway. Over the last year, I have saved HUNDREDS of dollars this way.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We Really Do Have Conversations Like This

Scene: Driving in Mom's car to a flea market in the town where I live. A nasty looking bug has flown into the car.

Mom: I just don't like bugs coming in the car. If it were anything else, I'd be fine. Like a bear.
Me: If it were a bear, you would be dead. And so would the bear since bears can't drive.
Mom: I don't know, bears are pretty tough. He would probably live through the crash.
Me: How do we wind up talking about things like this??? This is definitely going on my blog.

Car Repair: Think of All the Shoes That Could've Been Purchased

Well, the car repair turned out to be more than just struts. Add in some incompetent tire mounting that apparently ruined my wheels + the struts + some other minor (but pricy) repairs, and $608 later, here I am! Thankfully, I have a great mechanic.

It was the nicest feeling to be able to write the check for that amount knowing that I had plenty of money in checking as well as my savings to tide me over. This is why I have an emergency fund. I may not be able to meet all of my October financial goals now, but that is absolutely fine. It is just such a great feeling knowing that I can "afford" these repairs.

When I was in college, I had to have a major brake overhaul on my last car. This was in the days before I had any savings. When I learned that it would be in the $300 range, I almost had a breakdown right there. Thankfully, it was the summer and I was working full time at a pharmacy. Pay day was a few days away and my gracious mechanic was willing to wait until then for part of the money. Those repairs took my entire check.

I am so happy that I am not in that position anymore. However, God provided for me then as he continues to provide for me now.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

October Financial Goals

I think it is a good idea to start posting my financial goals monthly. I am big on goals- all sorts of goals- and have devoted a journal to them. I am a firm believer in the thought that writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them.

October's financial goals:

1) Replenish emergency fund. I had to take some money out of this for moving expenses, so it's time to fill it back up.

2) Start a retirement account. This is scary to me because I've never done anything like this before. I'm thinking that I will start with Sharebuilder because I have a code to get some money for free when I open an account.

3) Start saving mileage check for future car/car repairs. I think I will get my first mileage check in about a week, to the tune of ~$350.

4) Cashflow this month's scheduled car repair (struts) out of my paychecks rather than taking any more money out of savings. I think this will be $250-300.

I'm not sure if I can accomplish all of these, but we'll see how it goes and I'll report back next month.

A Trip to the Library Book Store



A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to my favorite library book store. The one where hardback books are all fifty cents. I got the above books plus this still wrapped vintage Italian record set. Now, I have no desire to learn Italian, but there was no way that I was leaving this behind for fifty cents. Perhaps eBay?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

How to Spot a Well-Made Garment

When I was little, my mom sewed much of my wardrobe. Because of this, I learned what a quality, well-made garment looked like. I also learned all about different fabrics. It can be difficult to tell what quality looks like since expensive doesn't always mean well-made, and vice versa. Here are some tips for finding well constructed items on the clearance racks and in thrift stores in case you didn't have your own seamstress while you were growing up. ;)

* Be aware of different fabrics. NEVER pay a lot of money for acrylic, nylon, rayon, or polyester. Cotton, wool, linen, silk, and cashmere last longer, breathe better, and look nicer. (I will say that I have some poly items, though.)

* Before you go shopping, go through your own closet. Feel the fabrics, look at the stitching. What makes certain items fit well? You will be able to see the difference between things that are constructed well and those that are not.

* Look for linings in pants, skirts, suits, jackets, and coats. Bonus points if they're lined in silk. (I hate lined pants, though, and never buy them.)

* Button down shirts and cotton dresses should have darts in the front and/or back that make them fit better. Same with most coats and jackets.

* With shoes, examine them for even stitching. There should be no noticeable glue anywhere. Set each shoe flat on the floor to see if they are stable or if they wobble. The best shoes (in my opinion) have leather lining rather than man-made lining. Your feet will not sweat in these beauties!


*In handbags there are a couple of things to look for. As in any item, you want nice even stitching. Soft leather and metal hardware (particularly metal zippers) are also indicators of good quality. Lately there have been a lot of moderately priced ($15-30) handbags at T.J. Maxx that have fooled me into thinking they would be expensive because they had all of the marks of quality.


*This is the underside of a skirt hem. When a hem is finished off with lace, trim, or ribbon (as in the picture), this is a hallmark of good sewing. This takes extra time and is not often seen in clothing that is manufactured now. However, you do often see this in vintage clothing.



*This is an example of a well-stitched hem. It is neatly folded over and is sewn in an even, straight line less than 1/8 inch from the end.
For more reading on quality for less, see dressing professionally on a dime.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Stupid Tax

Dave Ramsey has a section on his website where people write in with stupid things they've done financially. I like to read them from time to time, and I'm usually a bit smug while doing so. Ah, smugness. You are often my downfall. Well, now it's happened to me.

I just paid my first (and it will be my only) insufficient funds fee.

When I moved, I opened a checking account with Washington Mutual. It turned out to be more of a hassle than a convenience, so I decided to stick with my hometown bank. I only had a little bit of money (less than $200) left in the WaMu account, so I decided that I would just pay for everything out of that account and try to get it as close to a zero balance as possible.

Not a smart idea.

I mixed up some receipts between my two accounts and wound up not subtracting the right amount of money out of my WaMu register. Which led to an overdraft. $1.88 charge is what got me a $32.00 NSF fee. This was totally stupid since I have plenty of money in my regular account, and WaMu deserves the fee for my stupidity.

I've learned my lesson!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Exercising When You Don't Really Want To

Exercise is obviously good for you physically, but it has also been shown to be as effective on mood as a mild antidepressant. Since I trained as a health psychologist, I always encourage people to exercise! Here is some tips to getting going when you don't really want to. Plus, exercise is free entertainment.

1) Exercise first thing in the morning or right when you get home from work. If you sit down or lie around, it is unlikely that you will get back up again to go exercise.

2) If you do have to/want to sit around for some reason, put on your exercise clothes and shoes. Be ready to go.

3) Set "do-able" goals. If you are new to exercising, running three miles three times a week is NOT a do-able goal. Be honest with yourself about what you really can and should be doing. Baby steps. It doesn't matter if it's ten minutes three times a week to start with. The goal here is to...

4) Make it a habit. The more you exercise, the easier it is to fit it into your life. I've been exercising consistently enough now that I am at the point where I feel gross if it's been a few days since I've worked out.

5) Understand that you may not ever be to the point where you are really pumped to go exercise. I have been exercising regularly for some time and I still have to drag myself out the door. I just focus on the way that I feel during and afterward.

6) Focus on health, not on physical attributes. Losing weight and looking great are fantastic goals. However, I've found that if the focus is on health, you are much more likely to feel like you are succeeding. And feeling successful is key to staying on course.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No Thank You, Classmates.com

Shortly after graduating high school (in 2000) and before the days of My Space, several people from my graduating class signed up at Classmates.com. I did, too, as a "free" member. I never visit the site, but today I received an email stating that someone had signed my guestbook. I didn't know I had a guestbook. Anyhoo, I decided to see what it said. Well, surprise, you have to pay join (i.e. pay money) to view your guestbook. The cheapest option is $15 for three months.

No thanks, classmates.com. I guess my guestbook will remain a mystery forever.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Walgreens October Freebies

Looks like October is going to be a great month for free after rebate items at Walgreens. The following are free all next month:

*Breathe Again Adult Nasal Spray with SinoMarin, 3.3 oz
*Pepcid Complete or Pepcid AC, 8 count
*Colgate Total Advanced Clean Toothpaste 4.2 oz
*Ameal BP Capsules, 60 Pack or Chewable Tablets, 90 Pack

*Garnier Fructis Shampoo or Conditioner, 10.2 oz
*Beano To Go, 12

*Buckley’s Chest Congestion or Cough Suppressant Liquid, 4 oz.

As always, you can use coupons to purchase the items and make the deal a little sweeter. If you are not getting the freebies at Walgreens every month, I beg you to start now!!!!!!!!! WHY would you not get all of your toiletries for free???? It takes very little effort, and I have a closet full of free or almost free stuff to prove it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quotes of the Week

Just in case you think I'm the only "quirky" one in the family, here are some quotes from this week.

"So, 25 is the new 5. Yeah, apparently you're 5." -My mom, talking about how tired she is of hearing that 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, etc.

(Said in a firm and knowing voice) "Duct tape." -My auntie, while discussing the broken battery container on my camera.

"Actually, today I look like a dude. And yesterday I wore ugly shoes just because they were comfortable." -Me, while texting a friend about how my style is going sharply downhill since starting internship.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Introducing...

Ivy the cat! I'll try to get a better picture of her later when she's not acting like a dope.

I adopted Ivy about two weeks ago from a local humane society. She is 11 months old and has spent most of her life at the shelter. Because of this, she was very very nervous about human contact. She is still a bit nervous, but she has really come out of her shell! She is a tiny little thing with a bushy tail.

There was a very traumatic incident on Monday where I *had* to get her back into her (enormous) cage because the apartment people were coming to work on the air conditioning unit. We have both mostly recovered from this incident, although one of us is still scratched and bruised. She never bites or scratches under normal circumstances, though.

I don't know that there's going to be anything frugal about having her. I'm pretty sure that she will eat better and have better medical care than me. ;)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening? Christmas is Coming!

It's time again for another Christmas shopping update! I got busy this morning with a bit of online shopping- utilizing free shipping, free samples, and good deals, of course!!! I have now finished buying for almost everyone on my list. Still need to buy for: Grandpa (I can't purchase it until closer to Christmas) and two of my friends. I also will need to make something for the females in my family (I have the supplies) and will need to make some food stuffs later on. My handmade scarves for coworkers are almost done.

I am also still giving the stockings I talked about earlier. I have accumulated a LOT of pretty cool free stuff over the last nine months and I am still collecting. Another reason that I want to do this is because I want people to see just how much stuff you can get for free and how that free stuff can potentially eliminate some of the financial burden of shopping for toiletries and other items. Anytime that I can proselytize about frugal living, you know I will. ;)


Things that make gift giving easier:

1) I purchased the majority of my gifts online. Whenever stores offer free shipping, have great sales, or offer freebies with any purchase, I try to think if anyone I know would like anything from that store. Oftentimes the answer is yes. The deal is that much sweeter if you shop through a rewards portal like Ebates.

2) Whenever I got a really nice coupon (like $10 off any purchase), I would think about if I could use it toward a gift. Same with gift cards that I earn through My Points and through my credit card's reward program. Otherwise, it would just go towards more shoes. ;)

3) I plan early and keep my eyes open. For example, I have part of my sister-in-law's birthday gift and her birthday is not until April. When the good deals and cute stuff that I know people will really like come around, I jump on the deal.

4) Shop end of season clearance. One of my friends is on internship in Florida. The flip-flops that I ordered from J. Crew for $4 each will still be appropriate as Christmas gifts.

5) Budget and stick to it. I didn't do such a great job of sticking to my budget this year, but I won't be going over by much. I think I set the amount too low for the amount and quality of gifts that I wanted to give. The burden is much lighter if you shop throughout the year.

Happy shopping!

I Shoulda Blogged This Long Ago...

...but totally forgot about it. In June, I purchased this FAB toile tote from Monica. I love, love, love toile, and she did such a great job on it! If you haven't visited her blog yet, be sure to do so. You will be amazed at the crafty genius that she has going on. She really makes every occasion special. I know that I have stolen her ideas numerous times.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Because Every Weekend Should Be Three Days Long

My awesome primary supervisor (i.e. the one who is responsible for me and my work) told me that she was going to switch her hours from 8-5 Monday through Friday to 8-7ish Monday through Thursday, leaving Friday as a day off. I thought it was a great idea, so starting sometime in October I'm going to do the same! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Three day weekends EVERY SINGLE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know that Monday through Thursday will be long hours, but I've had a lot of even longer days while in graduate school. And I have a feeling that Free Fridays will keep me motivated.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The End of The Frugal Line????

For the first time since I started writing this blog, I cannot think of a single frugal thing to say. I have blogged about all of my brilliant ideas and some of my finds. I am also having problems uploading pictures to my computer.

Don't worry, this is not the end. Things just may be slower for a while.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Unexpected Blessing

I commute two days a week to an office about an hour away. I found out that I will be paid mileage to do so. The mileage is a rather generous amount, and I will have several thousand dollars extra at the end of the year. Commuting is not a big deal for me since I have done it for the last 7 years. So, I have decided that I will put all of the mileage money into my saving-for-my-next-car account. I would really like to pay cash for my next car, so this is a big step in the right direction. I plan on paying all routine maintenance and gas out of my regular paycheck, but any major repairs will have to come from the mileage money. Still, what a blessing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sweet Sassy Molassy, You Need To Make This Recipe!

Seriously, it is that good! From the September 29, 2006 issue of All You Magazine:

2 cups uncooked pasta
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and sliced (about 3/4 lb.)
8 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely shredded (2 packed cups)
Pepper
8 Saltine crackers

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large pot of biling salted water, cook pasta, stirring often, for 7 minutes. Transfer 1 cup of pasta cooking water to a bowl, add cream cheese and whisk until smooth.

2) Add broccoli to pasta in pot. Continue cooking until pasta is al dente, about 4 more minutes.

3) Drain pasta and broccoli and and return them to pot. Add cream cheese and 1 1/4 cups Cheddar; stir until cheese is melted. Season with pepper. Transfer to a 9-inch square baking dish. Crush crackers, toss with remaining Cheddar and sprinkle mixture on top of pasta. Bake until top is golden and sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.

Tessa's notes: I used Mexican blend cheese instead of Cheddar and it tasted great. Also, I think it could've used more Saltines on top.

Planning Meals

After a few weeks of disorganized grocery buying, I decided to come up with an obsessive-compulsive plan. The Ramblings of T: Come for the frugality, stay for the OCD.

Anyhoo, I was tired of wasting groceries and eating not-so-great. I have a ton of recipe books, but they are no good to me if they never get used! I went through all of my recipes and selected a few weeks' worth of dinner recipes and a few lunch recipes. I selected recipes that were inexpensive to make, sounded good, and were comprised of ordinary items. I hate it when a recipe sounds good but I have to buy 23 weird items for it. I then put all of the recipes in clear plastic pages inside the binder. I plan to work my way through all of the recipes in my planner, and then start through them again. The binder has sections for Lunch, Dinner, Side Dishes, and Dessert. This has really cut down on excessive buying and I have been eating some yummy stuff. Plus, I am not tempted to eat out since I know what I can cook for each meal.

Friday's Outfit

Dress $15 from T.J. Maxx, J. Crew tank top $7, Bandolino shoes. I have some shoes that would've looked cuter than this, but I was going for comfort. Which leads me to my current dilemma: I have too many "cute" shoes and not enough "functional" shoes. I think I may need to get rid of some tall heels and replace them with kitten heels and/or flats.

I know you are all just weeping for me and my shoes. ;)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Hodge Podge Post

Well, I didn't get to take an outfit pic yesterday, and today's outfit was just shameful. I will continue to try to post outfit pictures as I am able.


A new addition to the kitchen:


This painted metal cart was $15 from an antiques store and was spotted by the eagle eye of my Auntie. I have wanted one of these for awhile! The green cast to the picture is due to fluorescent lighting and taking the picture at night. ;) I would also like to note that the phone and the answering machine were both free.


Here is another scarf that I am working on. I just finished a black one with little specks of color. I was serious when I said I would try to use up all of my yarn this year!!!


I will try to plan my posts this weekend and take pictures so that I can have a better organized week next week.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First Day! Sort Of.

First, a rather shaky outfit of the day. You aren't going to be able to see all the cute details of my outfits, but you'll get the general idea. Cato chocolate brown button down $7, Joneswear brown patterned skirt from J.C. Penney $7, Bandolino heels $15. I also carried this brown croc print purse $40 and this briefcase $35. Anyhoo, so I met with my secondary supervisor for the first time today. Three days a week I will be in the town that I live in and two days a week I will be about an hour away. I have already met my primary supervisor (the one in the town that I live in). I really like both of my supervisors and I think this is going to be an amazing internship!!! I was a little nervous because some of my friends are having a bad experience with their internships.

Some of the things that I love:
* My hours will be 8-5, Monday through Friday. No crazy hours.
* I am never on call (carrying around a pager for crisis clients).
* I have a full 24 hours to complete my paperwork (this is actually a long time!).
* Everyone works together in a collaborative manner.
* My supervisors seem to really be on top of things.
* I get my own office in both places.

I am really getting excited about this year. Thanks to all of you that prayed for me and my internship, and a big thank you to the One who arranged such a perfect site for me.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Free Download

Hurry! If you go to www.walmart.com and go to their music download section, they are offering a free BarlowGirl download called Million Voices. I am not familiar with this song, but I do like BarlowGirl.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sassy Poodles


I just had to show you a picture of these sassy poodles that used to belong to my great aunt. I put them to the side of the window seat and they make me smile every time I look at them.

I Missed My Blogiversary!

It was on the 28th. I can't believe it's been over a year. Here's to many more!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh, Good Grief.

So I was checking out my blog stats and I noticed that I seem to have a fairly regular visitor from Missouri. It's a new one- I don't recognize the internet provider as having visited before. I think "Yay, someone local! Maybe I should post encouraging them to comment!"


And then it occurs to me. The Missouri visitor?


It's me.


(IN MY DEFENSE, I *have* switched internet providers since moving.)

Saving Money Around the Apartment


For most of you, these ideas are nothing new. However, it is exciting for me to finally be able to put these ideas into practice and see how they really work!
1) I use cloth napkins (pictured above!), rags, and dish towels rather than paper towels. I do have some paper towels on hand for really yucky stuff, but for the most part I use all cloth.
2) I have compact fluorescent bulbs in almost all of my lamps. I can't do anything about the lights in the bathroom or kitchen, but nearly all of my lamps have CFLs. They really provide tons of light, too!
3) I use power strips for plugging in electronics. I only have three power strips, but they are attached to the computer stuff, the television and DVD player, and my stereo and a lamp. These prevent any "phantom" power from being used when these are shut off. I will confess that I'm not very good at remembering to shut off the T.V. strip, though!
4) I have the thermostat set between 75-80 degrees, normally right on 78. Whenever I leave the house, I turn it to 80 degrees.
5) I don't really use much lighting during the day. My apartment has GREAT windows with tons of natural light coming in, so I don't use much electricity that way during the day. I also shut off lights when I leave the room.
6) I live in an apartment that has the sewer, water, and trash paid by the management. This is a nice little bonus!
If you have any other great ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Internship and Fashion

Well, internship is now finally in sight! I begin next week on Tuesday. I have a really easy introductory week: Monday is Labor Day, Tuesday I only go in for 1/2 day, Wednesday and Thursday I go to my school for an orientation/training, and Friday is a full day back at the clinic.

I'm thinking about posting pictures of my outfit everyday in an attempt to make sure that I actually wear all of my clothing. I may give it a go if I can figure out how to take pictures of myself in the mirror. :P

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cute Pillow

Okay, this is a day of bad lighting in my pictures. ;) I found this cute little pillow for .25 at a thrift. A little Spray n Wash on some stains and a tumble through the washer and dryer and it is perfect!

Since I've been focused on putting my apartment together, I've noticed that most of my decorations and furniture are used. It occurred to me that I much prefer used stuff to brand new stuff. For some reason, I think it has more character.

Finished Window Seat Cushion

It's a pale yellow and I put the red cushions from the couch on it to pull it all together. Thanks, Mom!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Organization: Over-the-Door Shoe Holders



In the ongoing saga of trying to find places to store all my junk, I bought a couple of those over-the-door hangers that are meant to store shoes. Now, my shoes are stacked in the hallway outside my bathroom and in boxes under my bed, so I wasn't planning on using them for their intended purpose. Rather, I installed one in my closet to hold necklaces and sunglasses (top photo) and one in the closet that holds my stockpile to hold toothpaste and other small items. I HIGHLY recommend the Martha Stewart brand at Kmart. They are heavy duty material and are well constructed. They are worth every penny of their $10.99 price tag. However, I had a $15 off of $25 purchase coupon (thank you Auntie), so I bought these, a kitchen timer, and some swimming goggles for ~$15.

New Dishes!


I've been living off of plastic dishes until I could make my mind up on a pattern AND find a good deal. Recently Amazon had a deal on this Corelle Red Floral Livingware where you got $20 off when you purchased two sets. I also had a $10 gift certificate from completing a survey, so I paid $39.98 total for eight place settings of four pieces (small plate, large plate, bowl, and mug). That would have originally cost me $69.98! I absolutely love the pattern and think it will be something that I won't get tired of for a long time.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gettin' Crafty

Since I have all this time on my hands, I figured I'd better get to craftin'! I have TONS of yarn and other craft materials just waiting for me to do something with them. I finished a chocolate brown scarf yesterday and started this scarf. I'm about 75% done with it. I'm planning on giving my coworkers handmade items for Christmas, probably all scarves if I have enough materials.

Living Room

I tried taking pictures of the whole room so that you could truly see the adorableness of it, but unfortunately that didn't work out so well. So, you will be getting bits and pieces pictures. Use your imagination!


This is the famous red couch. I have owned it for 3 years because I *thought* I would be moving out three years ago. Oops. I have a great mama that patiently stored all of my junk for a very long time. I love this couch and it folds out into a bed. The pillows on it I just purchased from a thrift for $4 each. They are really well made out of a heavy tapestry fabric. My mother is making me some light yellow pillows that will match the future window seat cushion (below).

The rug in front of the couch!

This is to the left of the window. The television is on a cedar chest that I bought for $5 at a yard sale. The color of the chest matches the wooden legs on the mod chair below. I am seriously obsessive compulsive about things like that but I am trying to be better! Also pictured is the other book case and part of the lamp.


This is my cute mod vinyl chair and one of my bookcases. This is to the right of the window. See that wooden foot-thing on my bookshelf? I love that!



These are the pictures on the right side of the window. The top is a print I picked up for $1 at a yard sale. The bottom is a beautiful photograph that my mom took. I had it blown up to 11x14 when a photo company offered a free 11x14 print. I paid $2 shipping.




These are the prints on the left side of the window. The top print is a page from a 1913 catalog and the bottom is actually an old advertisement for a pattern.





This is the pretty window seat. My sweet mama is making me a pale yellow cushion to put on it.



This is the doily that my sister-in-law gave me as a housewarming gift. Isn't she talented! Also pictured is one of my cool coasters (.25 for four at a yard sale). Both are sitting on one of two wooden t.v. trays that serve as end tables.




I also have a vintage stool behind my couch and tons of photos on the wall. Since I'm one of those individuals who needs her privacy, I won't be showing you those. ;)




Monday, August 20, 2007

Because I Really Am Blonde Under All This Dark Hair

Note: I am starting a new "tag" category called Blonde Moments. Because my dark hair is apparently a LIE.

Okay, so my apartment doesn't have a lot of overhead lighting. It does have several of those "plug a lamp into this outlet and flip the seemingly useless light switch and your lamp will magically turn on and pretend to be real lighting" things.

One day I prepared to iron, and my iron didn't work. I was very bummed. Another day, my vacuum cleaner mysteriously quit working when I moved to the spare room. Imagine my suprise when both items miraculously started working again when my mom was here trying to fix them.

Guess who plugged them into the lamp outlets? No, not outlets. The *same* lamp outlet in the *same* room. In my defense, (have you noticed that I say that a lot on this blog???) the outlets are flip-flopped in each room, so it's hard to tell which is the lamp outlet. But still.

Just goes to show that having ridiculous amounts of education DOES NOT mean that I have smarts, y'all. Or maybe I am one of those geniuses that have a hard time completing simple everyday tasks?????

Nah.

Time

Once I begin my internship, I will be working 8-5 Monday through Friday. And yet I keep talking about all of the glorious free time that I will have.

Let me explain. For the last three years, I have gone to school year-round, with four terms per year. Classes would change every 12 weeks. I would have class 3-4 days per week. On top of this, I saw patients/clients every week for between 7-15 hours and sometimes ran anger management groups. I also had projects, papers, and presentations to take care of- always something hanging over my head. The day didn't end when I got home as I would have to complete some project or study for some test. Some days I would leave for school at 7 or 8am and not get home until 9 or 10pm. It was very demanding and exhausting both physically and mentally. There was little room for anything outside of school.

Beginning in September I will only be seeing patients/clients. No more schoolwork or papers. I have to finish my dissertation, but am about halfway through that and see it as something that I will actually enjoy. I have nothing hanging over my head, and my days will begin and end at a set time.

I feel like a new person. And I am really enjoying all of this free time. ;)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Frugal Exercise

I have never paid to exercise. When I lived with Mom, I would walk outside during nice weather, do a weights DVD, and in the cold months try to force myself to do cardio DVDs. I wasn't sure what I would do when I moved. Lo and behold, the local community center offers a free membership for residents of the city. They have an outside trail, inside track, weight and other machines, and a pool! All for free! :P Needless to say I have already joined.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bedroom Details

When I posted the pictures I was too tired to write the details, so here they are! My headboard and footboard are vintage, purchased by my mom 10+ years ago, so I'm not sure how much they cost. The bird picture was a thrift store find for $5, and the frames were all free from various sources. I got the frame idea from an Anthropologie catalog. :)

I use the hatboxes beside my bed to store scarves (I have a million coats- are you surprised that I have a million scarves???). The hatboxes were gift containers from my Auntie. The bureau is vintage wood and was purchased for $65 three years ago. I used garage sale proceeds to purchase it, so it cost me nothing out of pocket at the time.

On the other side of my bed is a vintage tin T.V. tray that my mom spray painted yellow for me several years ago. I also got this idea from an Anthropologie catalog. The lamp on it was $7, but Mom bought it for me as a gift a couple of years ago.

I love, love, love the new (vintage) flower print. I got it for $6 in a flea market in Arkansas. It is a Nelly Littlehale Murphy print. I believe it is a reproduction, but it is still quite old.

The wooden chair was scrounged by my dad from a dumpster to be my childhood desk chair (I was a tall child!). It matches the bureau perfectly.

The amber lamps were a gift from my grandparents many birthdays ago. I put new ($1 at a yard sale) shades on them.

The shoeboxes- well, there is no place else to put them but in the hallway outside my closet!

The quilt was purchased for $40 three years ago at T.J. Maxx. They still have the most beautiful quilts. For me to not be tired of something after three years is nothing short of a miracle!

I didn't realize how frugally my room was put together until this post. You know that makes me happy!

More pictures are on the way.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Bedroom in the New Apartment






















Updated Showcase Link

Here is a fancier version of the showcases: www.frugalhacks.com

Use that link rather than the link below. The header is so cute!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Good News!

This is a two-parter:

1) I now have internet at my apartment! Whoo! It went suspiciously well, so I'm expecting my computer to blow up or something at any minute.

2) I am being showcased right now on The Frugal Blog Showcase. Go check it out! And I was very happy to see that the ever frugal and amazing Meredith commented about me over there! :P She is a blogger celebrity and I aspire to be like her, so that was pretty awesome.

Pictures will be up tomorrow, I promise!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Moving, Moving, Moving!

I signed the lease on a two bedroom apartment last Tuesday. I will be living in a town less than thirty miles from where I currently live. The past week has been spent hauling loads of my stuff over to it. I am only about 75% finished. This is my first move!

1) Moving is hard work and not so fun. However, seeing the apartment s-l-0-w-l-y taking shape is very, very fun.

2) My biceps hurt like crazy last week. I'm a little surprised that my legs didn't since I've been going up and down steps.

3) I have a bunch of things to do but can't seem to get them done because I am so exhausted.

4) On Monday I will move my clothing, shoes, coats, and purses. Pray for me. ;)

5) I have way too much stuff.

Pictures will be forthcoming!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Walgreens Deals


Here is my weekly rhapsody to Walgreens. I purchased: 2 Infusium Conditioners, 1 Infusium Shampoo, 1 Herbal Essences Shampoo, 1 Aussie Shampoo, 1 Aussie Conditioner, 2 packages of 3 Venus disposable razors, 2 Oral B Indicator Toothbrushes, 3 100 count Excedrin, two packs of gum, and two packs of computer paper. Total retail value: $91.93.
I paid: $17.46 out of pocket. Subtract from that the $10 coupon off my next purchase that I received and a $2.99 Excedrin rebate that I will send in= $4.47 total.
It took some patience studying the ads to figure out what coupons that I could use and how I could work the Register Rewards coupons in my favor (I checked out three times and alternated the P&G and the Novartis orders). Plus I had about $9 leftover on a couple of gift cards. Now that's what I call good shopping!
P.S. While I was taking the picture for this post, I realized how odd it is to be lining up HBA items on a table in the breezeway to take a picture of them.