Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Family Member

On Friday, my mom purchased the lovely boxer pup Luci. Luci had been living with a very nice lady who had two boxers and didn't feel like she could handle both of them. Mom found her ad online and after meeting us, Luci's former owner decided that we seemed like decent enough people and that she would let us adopt her. ;) She is nine months old and so sweet and smart! (Incidentally, she was also a frugal deal. She was $120. She is a full blooded boxer and is spayed, up to date on her shots, has had Front Line, and was recently bathed and had her nails clipped. She also came with a fancy dog crate and some toys and a bone.)

Trip to the Amish Store

On Friday afternoon, my Auntie and I went to a local Amish bulk foods store and to another (possibly Mennonite?) store that had various goods. I bought the above at the other store. I was so excited to finally get the More With Less cookbook! It looks great. I also purchased something for my Spring Fling swap partner, Maureen. At the Amish bulk foods store, I bought nine different spices/seasonings and some yeast. I am getting prepared for when I move out at the end of August!

Good News: Dissertation Edition

Well, I'm happy to say that I FINALLY got all of my dissertation data entered into a spreadsheet. The school statistician and I started analyzing it on Thursday. This is good news since the dissertation is the last big hurdle for me to accomplish. I want to get it done as quickly as possible, hopefully by the end of June. I was mad, though, because I forgot that I didn't need to do a bunch of formulas by hand and wound up doing them on about 40 of the surveys. The statistician just wrote a formula on the computer and in 30 seconds had completed what had taken me 4 hours. Nice. ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paying Down the Debt

When I am finished with school, I will have a ridiculous amount of student loan debt. Thankfully, I don't have any credit card debt. I will also be paying off my car in the next two weeks, so school debt will be all that I have. I was able to pay the interest on my loans for the first year, so that will be very helpful in the long run (compound interest: friend, enemy). I posted earlier that whatever money I get from selling things will go toward debt. I was able to make a payment of $162 the other day just from two weeks of eBay sales! I don't expect to be able to sell that much on a regular basis, but I am just going to keep reminding myself that every dollar counts. Every dollar is one step closer to financial freedom!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sewing Status: Pieces Cut Out

Remember this post? Well, I've cut out the pieces and they are ready to sew. Whenever I get around to sewing them. Ahem. And this may turn out to be too small even though I cut out a larger size than what I typically wear. I have also purchased some green patterned fabric and a pattern for a cute summer top since I've decided that I should buy less and sew more. We'll see how that goes. I'll post pics of the fabric later!

Pretty Vintage Tablecloths

And a family treasure to boot! Thanks to my beautiful-and-perfect-Grandma-who-reads-my-blog-but-never-comments for this bounty. These two tablecloths and set of four cloth napkins were made by her oldest (eldest?) sister. I love them and will keep them very dear forever.

A New Nancy Drew Movie???

I protest!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Apparently Sugar Is Poison

Or perhaps I ate too much! :x For the last few years, I have had a chronic exhaustion. This had become very worrysome to me and I was considering going to the doctor to have blood tests done. I have very healthy sleep habits and consume no caffeine, so I knew these were not the culprit. I thought I was doomed to a lifetime of being tired.

Last week, my mom offhandedly commented that perhaps I should give up sugar for awhile to see if there was any improvement. I thought it was worth a try, so I decided to give up desserts only: I would not give up fruit or carbohydrates. You should know that I consumed much more than one dessert per day. More like three or four(I know, I know). It seems that I was messing with my blood sugar in a very bad way.

Within a day, there was an extraordinary difference. I am so angry at myself and cannot BELIEVE that I have been inflicting this exhaustion on myself all along. I feel fantastic and am not tired at all. I thought that I would be able to have one dessert per week, so on Friday I had a piece of strudel-like cake. Within an hour I had both a headache and a stomachache. I hope to be able to work chocolate back into my diet, but for now I will be abstaining.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring Fling Swap!

Hurry! You have until tomorrow to sign up for the Spring Fling Swap here! It looks like it will be super fun. I may have gotten excited and already put together my hand made item. :P

The End of My Staples Fun

Ever since last July, I have been getting fabulous deals at Staples. My family and some friends save their ink cartridges for me (thank you!), resulting in a lot of $3 coupons. Staples offers free shipping when you became a Staples Rewards member, so I have been getting great deals on stuff. However, beginning April 1, Staples shipping will go back to being free shipping with a $50 purchase for Rewards members.

This means no more super cheap orders. It also means more restrictions on my coupon use. Online, you can use 3 ink coupons at a time regardless of the amount of items in your cart. When I use the coupons in store, I can only use two per day, one per item. I have been ordering my ink cartridges for $11 shipped, but now they will be $16 in store. It makes me unhappy, but I will still be working the deal in store. There will also be times where I will order $50+ worth of stuff that will be free after rebate, so not all is lost. If you have any coupons, now is the time to use them!

I'm Back!

I'm feeling more energized and ready to post some! Last week was finals, and I've had several projects going on to where I haven't been on the computer much. But now I'm rarin' to go!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tired and Uninspired

Lately I have just felt exhausted. When I get some energy and/or inspiration, I'll post on these topics:

*Loyalty card programs
*Taking care of cashmere and wool
*A guide to looking polished on a dime
*Pictures of some vintage goodies
*The end of my Staples fun

I thought it would be good to get a list up here on the blog so that I don't forget them when I have some time and energy. :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

And The Winner Is...

Tessa in the category of 'Most Complete Outfit'! Yay! For this honor I won a school t-shirt. I also got some free loot- pens, highlighters, clips, etc., and a free lunch.

P.S. Yes, my head is cut off on purpose. :P

Cheerful Dress

It was a bit overcast and dreary yesterday, so I wore this cheerful vintage dress with the red wedges from this post and got lots of compliments. It's not as vibrant in real life as it is here, but it sure is a happy dress!

Outlet Shopping: Using Coupons

Before you visit your favorite outlet mall, stop and visit their website to see if they have any printable coupons that you can use. If you live near a Chelsea Premium Outlet, right now they have a $10 off a $10 or more purchase at Naturalizer. This is how I got the shoes for the fashion show so cheaply. Always prepare before shopping!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Life Expectancy Calculator

Have you heard about this? My life expectancy is 84 (obviously I could die tomorrow- I do realize that). I liked that this calculator gives feedback at the end regarding what you are doing well and what you are not doing so well. I've already implemented one lifestyle change- a daily aspirin regimen. Which I needed to do anyway because I am a ticking time bomb.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Frugal Artwork

$5 at a thrift store and even prettier in real life. :)

Frugal Challenge Complete!

*Picture One: linen blend jacket $4.50 at Van Heusen, yellow tank $6.74 at the Gap Outlet
*Picture Two: cropped plaid pants $2.59 at the thrift store
*Picture Three: shoes $3.20 at the Naturalizer outlet
*Picture Four: earrings $1.99, and necklace $3.99 at Cato
I started off by trying to find pants at the mall clearance racks on Friday. Two hours later, no pants (but I did find two Christmas presents!). I went to Marshall's: no clearance. Finally, I headed to my no-fail thrift store and found these cute cropped pants. I promise they don't look dumpy in real life- they're actually very flattering. On Saturday, I hit up the outlet mall. Van Heusen had several racks of $5 items which I very carefully combed. This linen-blend jacket was the only one in that color and in size Medium, so it was perfect. Van Heusen now has a loyalty card program (not a credit card), and I got 10% off my entire purchase for signing up. I also had a 15% off one item coupon, but the cashier applied it to a shirt that I also bought. Next, I went to the Naturalizer outlet armed with a $10 off any purchase coupon. I studied the price signs and realized that I could only afford the 80% off items which had a purple dot. I found these purple dot shoes in my size (I take a wide size at Naturalizer) immediately, AND they're very comfy! In real life, this is where I would have stopped since the jacket's mother of pearl buttons are decorative enough for me. In the area of accessories, I firmly believe that less is more. But part of this competition is buying all that you can for $25, and I still had money left. So I went to Cato and found the necklace and earrings on sale. Ta da! This was so much fun that I think I will set the $25 limit on myself whenever I need to find an outfit.

Friday, March 09, 2007

New Feature: What I Did To Save $ Today

There's a new feature at Ramblings. It will occur less than daily, but more than weekly. Bi-daily? Mid-weekly? Anyhoo, I will post things that I have done to be frugal or save money. So here goes:

* I went the school clinic at lunch and free catered food with some friends.
* I didn't buy the most gorgeous ivory cashmere sweater. It was $38 down from $170 or something, but I don't need another ivory cashmere sweater. And I don't need to be spending $38 on something that I don't need.
* I purchased cat litter that will be free after rebate for my future cat (to be adopted in August).
* I purchased a pair of cropped pants for my free outfit (see previous post). This will be a post in itself when I am done, but I only spent $3 so far.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Frugal Challenge: $25 Professional Outfit

Our graduate school is given a certain amount of funds from the government to promote knowledge about loan repayment and basically to encourage us to not default on our student loans. The school is not allowed to give this money directly to us: rather, they have to come up with fun activities that will get us in the door to have the opportunity to educate us. One such activity is the school fashion show. Yes, we have a fashion show. If you participate, you are given $25 to come up with a professional outfit (i.e. one that you could see clients in). After they have the fashion show, they have the boring "don't go into default" part. I participated last year and am going to this year, too. A free outfit? Yes, please! You win prizes based on how complete your outfit is and how cute it is. Last year I was able to buy a button down shirt, skirt, shoes, and earrings for that amount. This year will be a bit more complicated because I want to buy pants, and pants-buying for me is always complicated. I also have limited time to find an outfit. I will update when I am done!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dear Me in 1997

If you haven't read about this project, go here.

Dear Tessa in 1997,

I have a few things to share with you, girl. Even though you think you already know everything at 14-almost-15 years of age.

High school is a fun time for you. Enjoy it and try not to worry so much. Someday you will realize that the things you worry about are never worth the energy, and the things that went on in high school really weren't as important as you thought.

The guy you are "dating" right now? Not the one for you. Nor the next or the next or the next or the next, either. Thankfully, none of those guys will be serious relationships. You are smart enough to realize that you are too young for that.

And the other guy that you are so hung up over? Well, you'll stay hung up on him for a few years longer. And then you will realize that what he is not and has never been what you are looking for. Someday you will realize that the qualities you look for in a significant other are directly related to the importance that they place on their relationship with God. How does this part of the story turn out? I don't know yet. But you need to know that not knowing is part of the fun.

You will lose some close friends. These friends will, at a later time, come back into your life and once again play a very important part. You will have learned how to treat them better. Don't forget that people need to hear (frequently) how important they are to you. Treat them as though they are gold.

I know that you have already been through one traumatic family event. I hate to tell you this, but another event that is even worse is on its way in about a year and a half. You need to know that you can and will handle this just fine. It will be a very painful few years, but everyone will come out of it better than before. God will carry you through as He always has. You have His strength to lean on; what more could you need?

Your relationship with God will grow closer and closer until you finally realize that He is the most important thing in your life. You will eventually figure out that you are nothing without Him. And guess what? Thinking of yourself as nothing in the face of God will not even bother you.

He has some pretty crazy things in store for you in the next ten years. You will be in school for a very long time, so get used to it. You will also be living at home for a long time. It's not a bad thing. Enjoy the time you have there. You will at some point be called "doctor". If it seems crazy now, just know that it will still be crazy in the future. Through this schooling, you will have a career that is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Remember to thank God every day for leading you down this path and blessing you in this way.

You will be the happiest you have ever been. Your optimism will be a tool that will be of great importance in the years to come. For many things in your life, you will just have to grit your teeth until you can get through it. Although it sounds trite, all of these things do make you stronger and weave the complex tapestry of who you will be.

Enjoy every minute!!


Tessa in 2007

P.S. The whole I-can-eat-whatever-I-want-and-not-gain-any-weight thing???? It will not be around forever. Eat more Big Macs while you still can.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Reader Question: The Ethics of Coupons and Rebates

Many moons ago, the very crafty and frugal Monica asked in the comments section what my thoughts were on combining rebates with coupons. I fully intended to address it at the time, but things got away from me. So here we are!

Is it ethical to use a coupon on an item that will be free after rebate? I say yes. I say this because no one is losing money, and I don't believe that it is deceitful. The store will be fully reimbursed for the coupon value + .08 handling. Further, the coupon amount is right on the receipt provided to the company giving the rebate. If they want to give me back less money, it is within their rights to do so. However, I have never had this happen.

What are your thoughts?

Frugal Magazines

Many frugalites have eliminated magazine subscriptions from their lives altogether. This was something that I was unwilling to do, but I was willing to search out ways to get them cheaper or free. There are some that I will absolutely pay for, but once again, I want to do it cheaply. Here are some sites and ideas that have been helpful to me:

1) Ebay. I have gotten multiple magazine subscriptions here over the years, and all have been cheap and reliable. I recently needed to re-subscribe to Harper's Bazaar, and the company wanted me to pay $12 for a one year subscription. No. I searched eBay and found a two year subscription for $5.49.

2) This is by far my favorite site for cheap subscriptions. They don't have everything, but they do have quite a selection. Further, they have "deal of the day" magazines and often offer discount codes if you search. This Sunday they are offering Shape magazine for $3 and change, and I'm planning on subscribing then (hopefully with the help of a coupon code!).

3) Keep an eye out for deals almost everywhere. I got a one year extension on my Lucky subscription because I purchased women's shoes from Amazon during a promotion period. Keep your eyes open for these types of deals.

4) Put out the word with family and friends. Oftentimes they have many magazines that wind up in the trash. Let them know that you're willing to take old magazines, and tell them which in particular you would like.

5) Ask at the library, doctor's offices, and the hair salon. The worst that could happen is that they could tell you no.

6) Visit the free magazines subforum at The link is here. Visit frequently. I have gotten free subscriptions to the New York Observer, The Magazine Antiques, and Range Finder (for my mother). It may take some work, but you can find good stuff here.

Just When You Thought I Could Not Buy Anymore Shoes...

I went over to the shoe sale. Endless is an Amazon company, and right now they are offering a $5 discount on all shoes and free overnight shipping. There are also free returns. They explain it like they pay you for shipping, but basically it works out to a $5 discount. I just ordered today and they should be here on Monday! In my defense, I do need lower heeled shoes for practicum and soon for internship. I decided that I am tired of my feet hurting from my taller heeled shoes. I hope they all work out, but if not, there's always that free return shipping!
*Picture one: AK Anne Klein Intrieri, originally $75, I paid $14.79. These are patent ivory leather with a peep toe and kitten heels! Whee!
*Picture two: Circa Joan and David Zana, originally $89, I paid $19.79. Once again, patent leather (black) with a peep toe.
*Picture three: Bandolino Braxton, originally $69, I paid $14.79.
*Picture four: Naturalizer Karis, originally $70, I paid $14.79. These are actually navy leather. I wanted this shoe in ivory last summer, but it was too much for me. We'll see if they work out.