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Challenge money and time for a clock

August 10th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

I gave in and bought an alarm clock to replace the one fried last week. I was holding out, but in reality it was driving me mad not being able to see what time it was from my side of the bed so I went to Best Buy and bought one for $24. Nothing fancy beyond REALLY BIG numbers.

I sold one of my daughter's sweaters on eBay today and after shipping and fees I made $9.55, so that brings my challenge total to $11,080.43 and the Vespa fund to $31.28. (I think I might have enough to buy a spark plug for the Vespa now....)

I have a bunch of other eBay auctions coming to a close this week, though, so those amounts should change quickly.

If it's Sunday, I must be....

May 18th, 2008 at 01:54 pm

clipping coupons....

It's sad really. Other people go to church or take the opportunity to sleep in. But, not me.

No, I get up at 6 a.m. every Sunday to clip coupons in anticipation of Gil the Grocer making his weekly delivery to my house later in the day.

I do manage to get some work done for the booming side business while clipping coupons, though, so it does make for a productive morning. I call it multi-tasking while my husband calls it insane....

Grocery deals R us

March 31st, 2008 at 12:32 am

Gil the Grocer just made his weekly stop here and I ended up with $102.54 in groceries for $63.38 (including delivery) after coupons. Most of the stuff ended up in the basement mini mart since it was on sale, but not necessarily what we needed for this week's meals.

I am, however, having Gil redeliver a bag of things that he overlooked while unloading the truck, which is one of the negatives of having groceries delivered. At least if I'm doing the shopping and delivering, I have a pretty good chance that all my groceries will end up in MY house and not someone else's.....

More for the challenge and other money issues

March 24th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

My mother-in-law sent me $50 for my birthday, so I'm putting that toward the challenge -- and some clothes. The new total is $4,285.84.

I took Mini Me to see Horton Hears a Who since today is the first day of spring break. I had $9 left on an old gift card, so only had to pay 50 cents to get into the movie. However, we did get popocorn and drinks, which were the equivalent of the entire fiscal budget for a small island nation. I really should remember to sneak my own drinks and snacks into the theater next time we go. ...

On the way home, we stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new shower curtain and towels for my husband's bathroom. He's been asking me to redecorate it for a while, so I've been hording the Laundry Fairy "droppings" to put toward it. We did get a good deal on towels that were 40 percent off.

(Yes, I have moved the spring cleaning into the bathrooms and let me tell you there is nothing worse than cleaning under a sink that hasn't seen the light of day in 10 years. If you should hear of an ebola outbreak in the U.S., you can assume it originated under my husband's sink.....)

Baking soda, vinegar, water and a freebie worth mentioning

March 21st, 2008 at 01:16 am

My mother sent me on an errand this afternoon. She wanted two cases of bottled water from Costco, but can't lift them so she asked me to get them and deliver them to her house when I return her dog, "Spud," who is staying with me while she jets off to Vegas this evening to gamble away our inheritance. ("Our" as in me and the dog's. And let's not get into the whole bottled water discussion. My mother is nearing 80 and isn't about ready to change her ways.... )

Being the good daughter that I am -- and in need of vinegar and baking soda for a massive project I'm tackling -- I went off to Costco for her.

While I was wrestling with the water, a guy was cleaning up his table where he had been giving out samples of liquid Tide. Apparently, he didn't want to pack up the samples because as I staggered by clutching my back he threw about 10 of the samples in my cart. Anyone who has priced Tide lately knows these little babies are the equivalent of liquid gold!

Back to that massive project I mentioned... I was inspired by the freaky mom at

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this site to do some spring cleaning. Of course, I'm a week behind her detailed "to do" list but I did spend an hour cleaning my refrigerator out today. (Exciting stuff, I know....)

I've never cleaned with baking soda and vinegar before, but I decided to give it a go. So far, I've only done the baking soda bit, but it worked wonders.

One would think all of this would be a moot point since I've got
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Hazel the Housekeeper covering my back, but alas I have decided that when I quit my job in May I will also let Hazel go -- unless I pick up a few more clients between now and then for the booming side business.

I haven't discussed the letting go of Hazel with my husband yet. It'll be interesting to see what his response will be when I hand him a mop and tell him to clean his own d*^# bathroom. ....

Sucking it in to save money

March 13th, 2008 at 01:31 am

At least once a year, I'm forced to dress up in something either than jeans and a t-shirt, and be my husband's Trophy Wife at a black-tie event related to his work.

In the past, I've gone shopping for gowns in January, which is when you'll usually find such things on sale. I've always lucked out and have never spent more than $100 on gowns that were originally much more than that.

Last year, I actually lucked out and came down with dysentery or some other cleaver excuse not to go (the exact nature of which currently escapes me). And, this year, I figured I would be off the hook since my husband switched jobs last summer.

Boy was I wrong. I now have two prom-like-events-for-the-geriatric-crowd coming up in the next month that require "formal" attire -- both of which involve me having to sit at a table with the same people, so wearing the same dress to both events won't work....

Aside from the fact that I didn't bother with my usual January gown shopping outing this year or last year, I've also put on a few pounds so I now either need to shed some weight fast, suck it up and invest in a new dress, or just suck it in and hope that nothing "pops."

The things we do for love.....

Changing my ways and other odds and ends from a wasted weekend....

March 10th, 2008 at 04:53 am


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a month of stealing the neighbors' newspapers (kidding....), I renewed our subscriptions last week at the much lower rate and while doing so signed up to get two Sunday papers for the coupons. Today was the first day they came and after spending way too much time clipping and filing coupons, I've decided not to clip them from now on until I actually go to use them.

I've been storing them in baseball-card holders inside a notebook, but now I'm going to dig out an expandable file and just mark the date on the entire bundle of coupons each week and then take it from there.


My grocery savings this week were pretty much a wash because the Grocery Game folks said I would find two coupons in the paper today that weren't there so I ended up paying full price for the items -- plus I bought Tide on sale, which is like buying any other detergent at full price


I'm not sure if it's the time change or the slight cold I've got, but I ended up getting a whole lot o' nothing accomplished today. I did book
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the beach vacation early this morning, but from there the day went downhill as far as productivity. I got very little work done on the booming side business -- mainly because I was redoing something that someone else worked on before me and it was a mess that took forever to fix (GRRRR....) Of course, it probably didn't help that the whole family laid down for a nap after a late lunch and the nap turned into a two-hour snooze fest for my husband and I while the kid and dogs bounced on the bed every few minutes while watching Monsters Inc. for the 50th time this weekend. (Please don't send me any nastygrams for sleeping while my child and dogs were running amok. We were all in the same room, sober and watching/listening to a G-rated movie -- not exactly "quality time" for Mini Me, but I'm sure she'll get over it....)


This cold is just annoying enough to make me want to lie low for a few days, but I have a bunch of commitments this week so I don't think that's going to happen.

I promised I would put in a few appearances at the "office" this week. In my line of work, it's usually a bad thing to go in if you're sick but I'm not so blatantly sick that I should stay home (then there's the whole no play/no pay deal I agreed to, so financially it's at least to my advantage to "suit up" and show up for at least a couple minutes every now and then).

Mini Me's also got a "gallery opening" that I have to attend this week. Yes, at the tender age of 7, she is having her first art exhibit.... I don't know how it happened since her kindergarten teacher once questioned her artistic ability (to which I reminded the wench of Jackson Pollock and others who looked at the world through a different lens). But no matter now, because the little Picasso's artwork was chosen for a display at a local gallery -- a real gallery as opposed to the gallery on my refrigerator.

To give you some idea of what we're talking about, here's a self-portrait that she did, which I thought was so good that I got it framed and it's now hanging in the area between the kitchen and living room.

A sure-fire way to rid us of snow

March 6th, 2008 at 03:49 pm

A few weeks ago when we in the middle of a huge snowstorm, my neighbor and I discussed how we could afford a snowblower. We decided we should chip in with another neighbor to buy a used snowblower.

The first neighbor is a mechanical genius and is always fixing things around the neighborhood and loves his "toys." The other neighbor is a widower who travels a lot and has a bad back, plus he has alots of extra space in his garage to store the snowblower. All I bring to the equation is myself, a husband and a kid. My husband and I will help "man" the snowblower when the first neighbor isn't around. And, one day when we're all too old and decrepit to run the snowblower, we will teach Mini Me how to use it.

The two neighbors have been looking for a used snowblower ever since I had my discussion with the first guy and I've been setting aside money in our household fund for the anticipated purchase. Yesterday, they found the "dream snowblower" on sale at our local hardware store for $240 and came knocking on my door to tell me all about it. We all chipped in $80 and got a mammoth snowblower that can clear a small parking lot! I am not kidding -- even my husband was impressed when he saw it.

Now, of course, we're betting it won't snow again ever; but it's nice to know that if it ever does, we're prepared....

My dumbest purchase....

March 5th, 2008 at 05:02 pm

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Debt Kid, who I just adore and want to fix up with my hottie niece (if only they lived in the same city), is having a contest. He wants to know about the dumbest purchase you've ever made.

Well, as a compulsive debtor and reformed compulsive shopper, I know all about dumb purchases.

There was the
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$400 bowling party for Mini Me that I fessed up to yesterday (which was probably more like $500 when all was said and done).

Then there was the $5,000 piano purchased in hopes that one day Mini Me would become Mini Mozart. (Not gonna happen, folks....) The piano is beautiful, though; and works great as a dust and fingerprint catchall in my living room.

Then there was
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Beauty (not her real name), who I bought while seriously depressed and suffering from a serious physical ailment a few years ago. (I won't reveal the price because I don't want to incite a riot...) She might be cute, but like I said before: she'd eat your face off in a second -- then she'd go poop on the floor just to show you she can. My husband has often said that if she didn't cost so much he would have gotten rid of her by now. His nickname for her: Ka-Ching!

Oh, but the absolute dumbest purchase was the $200 car seat for Beauty. Yes, I succumbed to the thinking that Beauty would only be happy in the car if she could sit in her own little perch and look out the window. Of course, Beauty had other ideas. Instead of sitting obediently in her car seat, she would jump out of the car seat and try to sit with whoever was driving the car. As if that wasn't bad enough, she was strapped into the car seat and would end up choking herself as she dangled halfway out of the dog seat and halfway in the driver's seat. This would then send the driver into a fit of panic, causing said driver to slam on the brakes at inopportune moments (say like when cruising down the highway at 80 miles an hour....). The doggie car seat has since been sold at a garage sale for $1 and Beauty has been banished from the car for life.

(Obviously not a picture of Beauty....)

Scored a deal and didn't even know it

March 4th, 2008 at 05:54 pm

I got a catalog-like thing from REI yesterday in the mail. I started to throw it away and then decided I would flip through it to see what summer outfits might be in it since I need some things for my beach vacation in May. I tossed it on the stack of stuff to be read on my nightstand and finally got around to going through it in the middle of the night. Good thing I didn't toss it. Inside I found my dividend check for REI members.

The check was for $41, plus there was a 20 percent off coupon for members. I'm hanging on to both and next month I'm going shopping for some shorts and t-shirts. My birthday is coming up and I will inevitably get a check from my mother (who doesn't believe in shopping for gifts). My plan is to use the check and the dividend check and the coupon to score some deals.

A trip to the mini mart

February 17th, 2008 at 11:09 pm

A while ago, I started seriously clipping coupons to make the most of my grocery money each month. A friend referred me to the

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Grocery Game and I've been hooked ever since.

Each Saturday afternoon, a new list of my local sale items is posted along with detailed instructions on the quantity to buy using which coupons. I print out the list and based on what's on sale and what I already have, I make up a weekly menu. Then I go shopping. (In my case, I shop from home and pay $10 extra to have my groceries delivered since this virtually eliminates impulse shopping, which is huge with me; plus there's the time factor, which is also huge with me.)

For our family of three humans, two dogs and a fish, I try to keep my spending at about $100 a week (including food, cleaning products, and personal care items). Most weeks I come in way under that amount. (Just to give you some idea of the savings, in my pre-couponing days,I could easily blow $200+ a week at the grocery store.)

A lot of serious couponers will buy multiple papers just for the coupons and they'll make multiple shopping trips to multiple stores to buy large quantities of sale items.

Sorry, but I'm not that much of a savings freak. I get one paper each Sunday and I make one shopping "trip" a week to one store, plus an additional stop every two weeks at Whole Foods for dog food and tea. And one stop a month at Costco for things like soymilk and Starbucks coffee for the caffeine fiend. (By the way, after I started shopping with coupons elsewhere, the Costco bill went from $300 a month to about $100 a month.)

Also, when I first started using coupons, I was buying a bunch of crap that I normally wouldn't have. This happened once or twice and then I realized the money I was saving on junk food wasn't worth the resulting heart attack that was sure to happen if we ate it all. So instead, I started stocking up on healthy things that I knew we would use.

For instance, the last two weeks my grocery store has had a sale on beans -- kidney beans, great northern beans, black beans -- they were all on sale for 44 cents a can. Since we eat a lot of beans, I bought 24 cans of them over the last two weeks. I then stored them in the basement Mini Mart (or as my daughter calls it, "the snack aisle"). They joined a case of soup, which my daughter loves; a bunch of tuna; cereal; fat-free popcorn; and various varieties of canned tomatoes -- all bought at drastic discounts or even free in some cases. (And, yes, I still buy the occasional box of Pop Tarts. Man, woman and child can not live on healthy food alone. ...)

In addition to the basement Mini Mart, we have the upstairs drug store. At last count, I had 20 bottles of shampoo, 12 tubes of toothpaste, and enough deodorant and feminine hygiene products to last a lifetime.

So that none of the food stuff goes bad, I make sure to rotate the older stuff to the front of the shelves each week. I won't buy sale stuff even if I know we'll use it if my shelves are already full. And, at least once every month or two, I try to skip grocery shopping entirely and plan our meals based solely on what we already have in the house.

The system isn't perfect. I know there are others out there spending a lot less on grocery shopping (like
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this woman). But it works for us....

Bean counting

February 11th, 2008 at 12:56 am

The grocery store had a deal on beans, so I restocked the basement mini mart shelves with them today. I also bought 12 cans of diced tomatoes that were on sale so I'm thinking black beans, rice and tomatoes will be on the menu in the next week or two....

The original bill came to $166.19, but after coupons I ended up paying $110.18, which includes the delivery fee.