Monday, January 30, 2012

What I did to save money last week....

I don't know how much saving I actually did this seemed like I did a lot of spending.

1.  Last Sunday I went to look at a buffet I had found online at West Elm. I loved it and decided to buy it. It was very expensive ($699 plus tax) but I’ve been searching for something for that odd space in my dining room ever since I bought the place in 2007. The dimensions are perfect and I’m looking forward to filling it up with stuff. They didn’t have any in stock, so I chose the “ship to store” option, which saved me $75 on shipping. I also opened up a West Elm credit card because for every $250 you spend, you earn $25 in design dollars. Once tax was added on, I was about $8 short of spending enough to get $75 worth of design dollars. I grabbed a white tray I had been eyeing for a grand total of $766.06.

2.  On Sunday I also stopped by Joann Fabrics to pick up some buttons so I could make a button monogram like this one I found on pinterest. I already have a frame, glue and scrapbooking paper for the back, so all I needed were the buttons.

3. I made a huge batch of macaroni and cheese using this recipe I found on pinterest. It didn’t really taste like Panera’s, but it was still really good. I brought some of this along with some salad to work each night for dinner.

4. Wednesday was one of my favorite coworkers last day at work. We ordered pizzas and went out for drinks at the end of the shift. I had a $3 coupon for the pizza which helped defray the cost a little bit.

5. I made some Oreo truffles using this recipe. I had been craving these for a while and used my coworker’s last day of work as an excuse to make them. I halved the recipe since there would only be about 6 of us. They’re so easy to make, and so so so yummy. I aready had the melting chocolate on hand and had picked up a bar of cream cheese and a package of mint oreos a few weeks ago while grocery shopping.

6.  I got all of my top cabinets sanded, primed, painted and hung back up this week. Now it’s on to the bottom cabinets and drawers. The rest of my house looks like a disaster during this process because all of the displaced kitchen items are everywhere.

7.  Saturday night one of my best friends had a little get together at her house and served pizzas and margaritas. I brought over two packages of mini cupcakes ($5.98) that I picked up at the grocery store on the way over. I spent the night catching up with a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

8.  My heat was kept at 62 degrees while I was sleeping and at work and at 64 degrees the rest of the time.

Sunday:   $37.33 S&S
                $766.06 West Elm
    $5.58 Joann Fabrics
Monday: No spend day
Tuesday: No spend day
Wednesday: $6.00 pizza
                     $12.00 beers
Thursday: $11.35 post office
Friday: No spend day
Saturday: $5.98 Shaw’s

Monday, January 23, 2012

What I did to save money this week....

1.       Picked up a 3-pack of Brita water filters and a free after rebate Physicians Formula cosmetic at CVS.  I had $6 worth of coupons, 15 EBs, and $9.50 on a gift card. Total out of pocket cost was $.50. I received 5 EBs back for the filters, and I’ll get $14.95 back for the make up.

2.       Went grocery shopping on Sunday. I picked up only the items I needed to make a few meals that I had planned for the week.

3.       I carpooled with my coworker 3 out of the 5 days I worked this week.

4.       I worked on the Monday holiday, so I’ll get paid time and a half.

5.       And I worked an 8-hour overtime shift.

6.       I made breakfast and lunch at home all week.

7.       Put $139 into my emergency fund.

8.       Purchased 2 Zippo lighters at Rite Aid for $9.99 each (plus tax). Received $10 back in +UPRewards and will also receive a $10 Single Check Rebate. $20.54 was paid for with a gift card and I paid $.30 out of pocket.

9.       Continued working on my two painting projects when I had free time this week. I also found something else I can paint at home using the paint I purchased for these other projects.
10.   Saturday was cold and snowy all day, so I decided to stay home and work on a bunch of things around the house. I worked on cleaning and organizing, found a bunch of things to sell on Ebay and Craigslist and some items to donate.

11.   My dinner plans with a friend were cancelled on Saturday night due to the weather, so I made dinner at home. After the snow finally stopped, I went out to CVS to get a rain check for an item they were out of stock on all week and to grab one deal I had missed when I was there earlier in the week. I bought 4 Hallmark cards (.99 each). I had a B3G1F CRT for them. I paid with $2.50 in EBs and the rest went on a gift card. I received 3 EBs for purchasing 3 cards.

Sunday: $23.98 groceries
            $.50 CVS – will receive $14.95 back in a mail in rebate
Monday: No spend day
Tuesday: No spend day
Wednesday:  $10.14 – Chipotle *worked a double
Thursday: No spend day
Friday: $.30 – Rite Aid - will receive a $10 rebate
                $58.01 – Gas
                $4.00 – Moe’s –Dinner at work
Saturday: No spend day

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Favorite Frugal Breakfast

My favorite breakfast these days are scrambled egg sandwiches with home fries. My parents sent me home on Christmas with a bunch of extra potatoes they had so I figured this would be a tasty way to use them up.
For the home fries, I peel the potatoes, cut them into small cubes then put them in a pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes. Then I drain them and fry them in either oil or butter until they start to turn brown. A few minutes before I remove them from the pan, I season them with the following: chopped onion, garlic salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (I like them spicy) and a bit of seasoned salt.
As for the scrambled egg sandwich, I think everyone knows how to scramble an egg. I do that, add a slice of American cheese and put it on a toasted English muffin or between two slices of wheat toast.
Here’s the breakdown of the cost:
Eggs: $2.39 per dozen - .20 each
Slice of cheese: $2.89 for 16 slices - .18 each
Store brand English muffins: $1.49 for 6-   .25 ea
1 tbs of milk
Potatoes: Mine were free
Seasoning: Already had on hand

That comes out to $.63 per serving and those aren’t even sale prices on any of the items used. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Money Saving Challenge: January 16, 2012

1.       I had an at home spa day before work. I waxed my eyebrows and gave myself a pedicure using items I already own.
2.       I drank mostly water this week. I did have a few glasses of milk with breakfast during the week and I did splurge on a Twix flavored ice coffee on one of my overtime shifts this week. I still haven’t had any soda this year!
3.       Ran all of my errands on one day to help save on fuel costs.
4.       Received two rebate checks for $6.29 each.
5.       Received a payment of $5.19 from for a book I sold a few weeks back.
6.       I did carpool 4 out of the 5 days I worked this week, but it was my week to drive, so I didn’t save anything on gas.
7.       I worked 16 hours of overtime this week.
8.       I was able to skip going grocery shopping this week by using items I already had on hand for meals.  
9.       I got the DIY bug this weekend. As much as I would love to buy new cabinets and countertops, I don’t have the money to replace mine. I did a lot of research this week and decided to paint the ones that I already have. It’s a temporary solution, but I’m hoping it will look better than it did. I made a list of the supplies I would need. My parents had a lot of the stuff on hand, so I didn’t have to buy half the items on my list (paint tray, rollers, painters tape, sander & sand paper). I went to Lowe’s on Saturday to purchase the remaining items on my list….primer, white and black paint, tack cloth and a can of polyurethane. The total was $85.07. I used $60 worth of gift cards and paid the remaining $25.07. One of the cans of paint has a $5 rebate, so I will send away for that, meaning my total for everything will be $20.07. This will leave me with enough paint to not only re-do my kitchen cabinets, but the vanity in my half bath and my railings too. I’ll have before and after pictures coming soon!
10.   I had three “no spend days” this week.
Here’s how my spending was for the rest of the week:
Sunday: $12.16 dinner & dessert with friends…PF Changs & McDonald’s sundaes…YUM!
Monday: No spend day
Tuesday: No spend day
Wednesday:  $52.29 Gas
                      $5.00 iced coffee for me & a coworker
                      $2.00 Subway for dinner at work *worked a double this day
Thursday: $8.12 Panera for dinner at work *worked a double this day
Friday: No spend day
Saturday: $25.07 Lowe’s

Seeing as how I said I might let myself order takeout on nights where I work a double, I didn’t do too bad this week.

11.   I sold an old text book on for $29.
12.   I stayed home on Saturday night and working on painting, so I didn’t spend any money going out with friends.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I had been craving chili & cheese nachos for weeks. Instead of going out to dinner and getting a plate of them for $9-$10, I made my own batch of chili!
I had trouble finding a recipe I wanted to use. I knew I didn’t want any beans in it, but other than that I wasn’t sure because I’ve never made it before. I ended up combining two recipes and what I came up with was pretty good!
Here’s what I used:
1.22 lbs of ground beef -  $4.87
2  10 oz. cans of Rotel tomatoes & green chiles-  $1.00 each
¾ of a jar of tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic - $.50 for the whole bulb
1 small yellow onion - $.59
1 tablespoon of Texas Pete’s hot sauce - $.49 for the whole bottle after coupon
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Tortilla chips
Shredded Cheese $2.49
Sour cream $1.45
I browned the meat in a frying pan and then threw everything  (minus the chips, cheese & sour cream) into the crock pot for a few hours.
When I made up a batch of nachos, I spread out a layer of chips on some tin foil, covered them with cheese and chili and popped them into the toaster over for a few minutes until the cheese was melted.
I already had all of the spices, a jar of tomato sauce and a bag of tortilla chips on hand. The remaining ingredients cost me $12.45 and I still have plenty of sour cream, hot sauce and garlic left over for other recipes.
Mid-week I was sick of chili (and out of chips!), so I froze the leftovers.
Even though most of my ingredients weren’t on sale, I still made out better than going to a restaurant. I got more meals out the $12 I spent and at least I know exactly what went into my meal.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Money Saving Challenge: January 9, 2012

1.       Made a big batch of chili in my crock pot. More details coming in another post.

2.       Made breakfast at home each day. I made a scrambled egg sandwich and home fries. I’ll be posting more details in another upcoming post, but this breakfast cost me about $.64 each day!

3.       Brought lunch to work the four days I worked this week.

4.       Carpooled three out of the four days I worked this week. Bonus, it wasn’t my week to drive!

5.       Other than a glass of milk with breakfast, I drank only water this week.

6.       I’ve been doing my dishes by hand for the past few weeks. My dishwasher has been doing a horrible job lately and I either have to send certain items through for a second time or wash them by hand anyway, so I figure by just doing it right the first time I’ll save a little bit of water.

7.       Submitted my water meter reading to avoid getting an estimated bill.

8.       Ran all of my errands on one day to help save on fuel costs.

9.       All of my errands this week were freebies/money makers. At Target I had to return a stick of deodorant I had previously purchased because when I started twisting the bottom to use it for the first time, the stick wouldn’t come up. I had to swing by the mall to return some clothing items I bought online with a gift card before Christmas. The money went back onto a gift card, so I’ll have that next time I need/want some clothing. Lastly, I made a stop by CVS to get some of the Nivea chapstick that was on sale. I had $6 in coupons and 4 extrabucks to roll, so my total was zero, and I earned 5 extrabucks back.

10.   On Friday and Saturday I attended some training and information sessions with a coworker about a career field I’m seriously thinking of switching to.  Part of the information sessions on Saturday included a financial discussion about the benefits of a career in this field as well as some general financial information. I got a good refresher and also learned some new information.

Week One In Review

To help me stick to my goals for 2012, I created a simple spreadsheet so I can keep track of my financial, health and fitness goals. I added columns for each type of workout I hope to get in, how many glasses of water I drink, remembering to take a vitamin, how many no spend days I have and how many days I have where I don’t spend money on eating out.  Out of a possible perfect score of 85, I got a 65….not horrible, but I know I can do better.
Here’s a recap of my 2012 goals and how I did this week:
1.       Try to have at least 3 “no spend days” each week.  - Check! I had a total of 4 no spend days this week!
2.       Get my emergency fund up to $10,000. – In progress... I paid back the $550 I “borrowed” for my furnace repair plus added $133 (10% of my net pay for the pay period).
3.       Pay my parents back once goal 2 is complete. – N/A  No progress on this goal this week since I haven't accomplished goal 2 yet..
4.       Establish a short term emergency fund once goals 2 & 3 are complete. –N/A No progress on this goal this week.
5.       Start saving for something else (car or new kitchen) once 2, 3 & 4 are complete. – N/A No progress on this goal this week either.
6.       Continue working out on a regular basis. - Check! I did some sort of physical activity every day of the week. I did a total of 300 pushups for the week, went for one outdoor run, and completed a leg work out, an arm work out and an ab work out.
7.       Eat healthier:
a.       Eat more meals at home. - Check! I think I did pretty well on this front. Last Sunday I made a huge batch of chili in my crock pot, so I had a lot of that and froze the leftovers.  I also made scrambled egg sandwiches and home fries for breakfast/lunch during the week.
b.      Drink more water and less soda.Check! I’m proud to report I didn’t drink any soda at all this week.  I had a glass of milk each day with breakfast and drank nothing but water the rest of the week.
c.       Bringing a lunch to work. – Check! I only worked 4 days this week and brought a lunch every day.
8.       Find a storage solution for my dining room.In progress...I’ve been searching, still haven’t found anything in my price range yet.

Sunday: $14.34 Acapulco’s (dinner with friends)
Monday: No spend day
Tuesday: No spend day
Wednesday: No spend day
Thursday: No spend day
Friday: $49.18 Gas
              $9.20 Chipotle (lunch while @ training)
Saturday: $25.00 The Chateau (dinner with friends)

All in all I didn't do too badly. Like I mentioned in my original goal post, my weak spot is spending money on restaurant food. Three meals out may seem like a lot but I was doing it so much more often prior to this week. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This is my second attempt at blogging. I started a blog in 2007 that was focused on bargain hunting, which was appropriately titled “Bargain Hunter.” It started off as a place for me to showcase my grocery and drug store shopping trips that back when I used to be able to get bags of items for just pennies.
In 2009, I challenged myself to a $500 grocery/entertainment budget for the whole year. I started off with a virtual $500 on a spreadsheet. Any grocery, drug store, eating out or entertainment expense that was paid for with actual money (and not a gift card, rewards coupon etc.) was deducted from that $500. Any found money, rebate money or additional earned income (i.e. survey money, mystery shopping money) was added back in to the budget.  I deleted the spreadsheet a long time ago, but I do remember that as of Christmas 2009, I was still on track. I think I ended up going over the $500 by $10 or so at the very end of the year. Technically I failed, but even spending $510 for a year’s worth of those types of expenses was pretty incredible.
As the deals started to dry up, I stopped posting on my old blog and eventually I took it down towards the end of 2010. But I’ve missed blogging so much, so I decided to start up a new one.
I may not be able to get a cart of groceries for a couple bucks anymore, but that year of living on an extremely tight grocery budget definitely taught me some tricks  that I hope I can pass along to my readers.
I’m hoping to use this blog not only as a tool to help keep me accountable, but also as a place to share money saving tips, good bargains, frugal home decorating ideas and anything else I think of that seems worth sharing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Saving Money

It's tough coming up with even more ways to save money. I've already been doing many of the typical money saving techniques for years.
  • I haven't had cable since I moved into my condo in June 2007.
  • I cancelled my landline phone years ago.
  • I also don't have an internet subscription at home.
  • I recently cancelled Netflix when they raised their rates and I've been renting DVDs from the library.
  • I have a programmable thermostat that is set to 62 degrees while I'm at work or sleeping and is set for 64 degrees when I'm home.
  • I have been living off of my HBA stockpile and very rarely spend money on those types of items.
  • I still have a small stockpile of dry goods like pasta, rice and some snacks.
  • Plus a stockpile of things like laundry soap, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, air fresheners and candles.
  • I try to do all of my laundry during off peak hours to save on energy costs.
  • I drive an 11 year old car, so I have no car payment. My driving record is clean too, so my insurance is only $50 per month.
  • I carpool with a coworker 4 out of the 5 days that I work each week. I drive right by his exit on the way in, so it's no more than 5 minutes out of my way each day. We alternate driving each week, so that helps out a bit with fuel costs.
  • I've pretty much stopped drinking alcohol. I've never been one to drink while I'm home or even when I'm out having a meal and I've cut way back on going to the bars with my friends. When I hang out with friends we tend to grab something to eat and then just hang out at someone's house.
  • I don't drink coffee, get my nails done, frequent the hair salon, go tanning or anything else that could be considered frivolous.
  • I did recently join a gym, but it's $10 a month and I'll get reimbursed by my health insurance plan after I've been a member for 4 months. I'm planning on cancelling the membership once it gets warm enough to run outside again anyway.
  • I clip coupons for items I use, shop the grocery sales, make a grocery list and stick to it and to a certain extent I plan a menu each week. I also shop at CVS and Rite Aid and use and roll extrabucks/up rewards so I can continue adding to my stockpile of HBA items without having to actually pay cash for them.
  • Other than my mortgage (and a small amount of money I owe my parents) I have no credit card bills, no student loans, no car loan.
I'm hoping I can come up with some more creative ways to save some extra money this year, and maybe even rake in some extra cash.

Sometimes when I'm bored, I'll scour the internet for "creative ways to save money" but a lot of those tips are repeated on all of the different websites.

Does anybody have any new tips for me? I'd love to hear them!

2012 Goals

I’ve decided to join Precious’ money saving challenge on her blog Frugal Makes Cents. I had done this on my old blog in years past and it definitely helped to keep me accountable. Precious has some ingenious money saving tips, I’ve learned so much from reading her posts over the years.

Frugal Makes Cents
Without further ado, here are the goals and challenges I’m going to try to meet during 2012.

1.       Try to have several (at least 3) “no spend days” each week.  This will help me in a number of ways. First, I’ll be more likely to run all of my errands on one or two days rather than a few each day, helping conserve fuel. I’m also hoping this will help with impulse purchases.

I pay my bills online and have them all scheduled to be paid the day before the payment is actually due. I’m not going to include my bills toward these “no spend days.” I figure if I start messing with payment due dates I may end up paying something late and getting whacked with a late fee.

I will consider it a “no spend day” if I have refrained from whipping out cash, my debit or credit card to pay for anything.

Not sure how I’ll handle using a gift card or rewards coupon to pay for something…guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

2.       Get my emergency fund up to $10,000. I’m so close to being there, I can smell it. However, on Christmas Eve, my furnace broke. I had to borrow $550 from my emergency fund to pay for the repair. Luckily, I had the money so there was no need to borrow it from anyone or put the repair on a credit card. I plan to repay that $550 back to that account with part of my next paycheck. At that point I’ll be about $1300 away from my goal.
I’ll be putting in 10% of my net income into this account each week until it is fully funded. Also, any additional money I make goes into this account also, such as rebate money or money earned from selling unwanted items.
3.       Once my emergency fund is funded, I need to pay off my mother a little bit of money I owe her. It’s around $1700.

4.       Once 2 & 3 are complete, I’d like to establish a short term emergency fund of $1000. This is what I would like to use for emergencies that pop up, like the unexpected furnace repair, while reserving the other account for if I were to ever lose my job.

5.   Should I accomplish 2, 3 &4 this year, I’ll start saving for either a new car or new kitchen cabinets and countertops.

6.   Last year, right after Christmas I decided to start working out. I had said I was going to do it many times before, but had never followed through.  I went from being able to run/jog for maybe a minute or so and worked my way up to being able to run 2 miles. I also did about 15 personal training sessions and learned how to do arm, leg and ab workouts. Between the running and the weight training, I was working out 4 or 5 times a week. I’d like to keep that up. It shouldn’t be too hard, but I do hate running outside in the cold.

7.   Lastly, I’m challenging myself to do a better job of eating healthier, drinking more water and less soda, and remembering to bring a lunch to work instead of buying one.

a.   Eating healthier: It’s tough to do. I’m one of those extremely lucky people that can eat whatever I want and not have to worry about it. That’s why I think I always had a tough time sticking to any kind of exercise routine. I used to think that if I didn’t have any weight to lose, what was the point? That and when I would exercise I’d actually gain weight. Bummer. Let’s face it, I’m never going to be one of those people that loves veggies and enjoys fruit as a snack. But if I can cut out a lot of processed foods, fast food and make more of my own meals, not only will I save myself some money, I think I’ll be a bit healthier. At least I hope so.
b.   More water, less soda: I love soda. Love love love it. But I know it isn’t good for me. I have two 2 liters in the house, and once those are gone, I won’t be buying any more. I’m in the market for a Brita water pitcher, so I’m hoping that will make it easy to drink lots more water…even if I have to start off with Crystal Lite packets, it’s better than soda.
c.   Bringing a lunch to work: Easier said than done.  I go on kicks where I’ll do this every day for a week or so, but then I get bored with sandwiches and fall back into my old habits. Ordering out is so expensive and the places we go are usually not healthy.
I will definitely need to treat myself once in a while so I don’t go off the deep end. I think for now my rule will be any time I work an overtime shift I can order a meal out either that night or the next.  An overtime shift brings in so much extra money, that splurging on a burrito or something isn’t a big deal. Plus, after working 16 hours and having 8 hours to get back home, sleep, shower and return to work doesn’t leave me much time to make myself a lunch.

8.   One more thing…I need to get some sort of storage solution for the alcove in my dining room. The dimensions are odd, and I’ve been scouring craigslist and tons of online stores looking for a buffet that will fit in there without much luck. My goal is to find one that doesn’t cost me a fortune.