Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Tulsa ER

So this week I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma for work. You might not think that it is a very exciting place, but if you think that, you've never been to their ER late at night.

I had an infection that needed immediate attention (most ladies will know what I'm talking about, but I don't think we need any detail there!) and so I headed in about 11 or 11:30 pm, as all urgent care units were closed up.

My poor nurse had several other patients, and kept telling me I was the best she'd had all night. Based on my observations, I didn't have any stiff competition there... one lady took out her IV and started bleeding all over the place. Twice. Then a guy was brought in on a wheelchair because his leg was burned pretty bad. How did it happen, you might ask? Oh, he had a few drinks with friends, went to bed, and woke up because one of his "friends" (he used that term, I surely wouldn't have) set him on fire. Yes, on FIRE.

When I was released (about 3 am), I headed to a CVS I'd been given directions to that was open 24 hours so I could get the antibiotics I'd been prescribed. Let me tell you, that store was beautiful! I wish I'd had my coupons with me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I don't need no stinkin' sleep

So this title struck me for two reasons. One, it is 6 am pacific, I'm in an airport traveling for work, and the line for Starbucks is honest-to-goodness longer than the security line was. There are at least 20 people waiting in line for their overpriced coffee.
Two, work has been on the overwhelming side recently. We have been working as a pretty skeleton crew lately, and it's definately been wearing on some folks. The area me and my coworker cover is larger than some of the other regions, yet there are two of us, whereas the other areas have 3 and 4. The best part of course, is that last week, my only counterpart submitted his resignation. My boss will do his best to help me out, and he is super-experienced which is a major help, but realistically he has 7 other folks to oversee (who do very different work than I do). However, that still leaves me with the ENTIRE west coast to support from a day-to-day engineering standpoint, from San Diego to Seattle. So I'm telling myself I don't need no stinkin' sleep, because I certainly won't be getting any anytime soon. Yay!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This was the view from our balcony. We went to Montego Bay and it was amazing! Every day was sleeping in, eating breakfast, doing something on the beach (except the day we ziplined!), meeting the friends from college we went with for dinner, drinks, and usually cards (we are avid euchre players, and no one seems to know what it is on the west coast). Sometimes after cards we'd relax in the hot tub you see in the photo- it was for anyone on the resort, but didn't seem to get a lot of use being away from the bars and such.

My favorite activity was probably the snorkeling, although the zipline course makes it a very tough call. The included resort snorkeling was fun, but the afternoon tour that went out further to a nicer reef was just fantastic. We got to see sea snakes, urchins, trumpet fish, and a HUGE sting ray. DBF did some free diving and I got a few nice videos of him swimming around in the ocean. The zipline was crazy, I had never done a verticle one before (read: they DROP you straight down, about 60 feet) and was unaware we'd be doing that beforehand, but it was quite the rush. I enjoyed the kayaking, though DBF was less than excited about it since it closely resembled excercise on vacation.

We were pretty fortunate in that it didn't rain much- about half the days in the mid-afternoon. Since it's rainy season, that's to be expected. We were also lucky Hugo dissipated and we had no tropical storms in the area; while we'd gotten trip insurance, we would have been very upset to miss out on our vacation! It was a risk we knew we took booking in off-season, to get the rates we did on the room.

I also really liked that it was an inclusive resort, so the only stuff we paid extra for were the zipline tour and the longer further-out snorkeling. Frankly part of why it was nice was things being faster- bartenders aren't having to figure out what a drink costs, ring it up, etc, etc. Also, it was very convienient to be able to walk around without a purse since we didn't need money or ID within the resort- and it was DBF's job to hang on to the room key. The swim up bar would have been particularly interesting otherwise.

All in all, certainly the best vacation I've ever taken myself on- it was definately worth saving up for. What about you, what's been your favorite vacation?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A crazy month, Part 1: Side business

Last month when I got everyone's favorite coupon friendly magazine- All You- I saw an ad that said "Will work for Chocolate". Since I like chocolate (alright, LOVE chocolate), I decided to take a look at the website. I submitted my info after looking at some of the products, and spent a few hours over the course of a week or so speaking to the woman who called me about it. Long story short, I decided to give it a go, and am now a Dove Chocolatier part-time.

So far it has been going pretty well- I did a launch party with my friends at my place, and another with my family during a reunion type weekend. I'm also signed up to do a few boutiques this fall with other Chocolatiers and have another party tentatively booked. In another week or two I think I should be about the break-even point and it doesn't actually feel like work- at least not yet.

I don't mean for this to sound like a plug- which is part of why you don't see a link in this post (though I am happy to talk more about it if someone would want)- I'm just quite excited to be doing this! It has been so nice to get my head out of engineering while still using it and doing something different in my free time. I'm also meeting new people outside of my typical circles (in case you don't know too many engineers, please feel free to read that as "people who don't make bad jokes about circuits, pump curves, or the periodic table") which is refreshing.

Much love, and hope everyone has been doing well! I hope to continue summarizing my crazy month over the next week or so. Part 2: Vacation...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If only it were always this easy...

Rite Aid is a moneymaking machine this week! Seriously, I wonder how the registers are holding up after having that surgery to convert them all to ATMs. And I didn't even have the best possible coupons for matching up- the madness! Of course, I did have my favorite cashiers at each store.

Also, these are really low OOP scenarios even if you don't have any UP+ bucks yet. And, if you have an FSA debit card w/ moola on it, they'll actually be 0.00 OOP!

As an added bonus, if you haven't done the skincare rebate yet, you could seriously go buy Garnier face washes all over town and turn a profit on that deal this week.

Store 1:
$6.99 Garnier Nutripure cleanser
$9.99 Dulcolax
$10.00 Zegrid
-$5/25 RA Q
-$5 Garnier RA Q
-$1 Garnier MQ (from inserts)
-$5 Dulcolax MQ (from All you)
-$3 Zegrid RA Q
-$4 Zegrid MQ (from inserts)
-$2 UP+ rewards
=$1.28 + tax on my FSA debit (as both Zegrid and Dulcolax count for FSA)
Now, had I been a good couponer and watched the RA video for the $2 Garnier coupon, I could have tried to use that too (but YMMV as you're already using the $5 RA Q on it) and gotten the same OOP w/o using an UP+ reward. I also could have tried buying two and using two $5 RA Q's to get the $3 UP+, but my brain wasn't quite there yet.
Got back $7 UP+ for Zegrid, will get back $9.99 SCR for Dulcolax, and the Garnier counts toward the skincare rebate I finished up with these transactions.

Store 2:
$6.99 Garnier clenser
$10.49 Neutrogena sunscreen
$3.99 Pantene hairspray
$5.99 Motrin PM 20 ct
-$5/25 RA Q
-$5 RA Garnier Q
-$2 RA Neutrogena suncare Q
-$2 Pantene MQ (Parade insert)
-$3 RA Motrin Q
-$1 Motrin MQ
-$7 UP+ rewards from Store 1
=$2.26 + tax on my FSA debit (b/c OOP was less than the Motrin PM price)
Got back $2 UP+ for Pantene, $2 UP+ for Motrin PM, and have now finished the skincare rebate.
If you don't want the Neutrogena, $8.03 of anything else would get you to the $25 mark, but for me it pushed me over the edge for the skincare rebate, and it is my fav-orite sunscreen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fruit Bars

I had a $5 RR expiring yesterday that I'd gotten from buying the Gillette razor. Sadly that was the only RR producing item that caught my eye at all, so I had to just burn it, but I did so on yumminess! WAGS has the Dreyer fruit bars on sale this week for $2.50, so I bought 2 boxes and paid $0.00 OOP! This is a pretty decent price for these, and they are just what I need when I come inside on a hot day!

As for today, I stopped by RA and spent all of my $30 in UP+ rewards from buying all that John Frieda.
Trans 1:
$7.99 Oral B Cross Action Power toothbrush
$7.29 Renu Sensitive
$2.49 Crest 3D Vivid White
$8.99 Neutrogena Sunscreen
-$5/25 Q
-$3 Oral B Q
-$2 Renu Q
-$0.75 Crest Q
-$10 UP+ bucks
=6.01 + tax, paid $8.62 OOP
Got $2 UP+ for Crest, and will get $7.29 SCR for Renu, $4 SCR for Oral B, and begin earning the suncare gift card (yes, I'm a late starter on that deal)

Trans 2:
3*$8.99 Neutrogena Sunscreen
-$5/25 Q
-$20 UP+ bucks
=$1.97 + tax, paid $4.11

I now have $35.96 towards the $50 of qualifying items for the sun/skin care GC deal, which will give me a $25 (hopefully $30 since I'm using my UP+ card) RA GC for buying this stuff. There have been better deals in the past to get to this $50 mark (and is another good one next week), but my skin gets along with neutrogena sunscreen best, and this makes it a great price overall for my sunscreen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

John to the Frieda!

I LOVE this shampoo, and love it even more when I'm paid to buy it! FYI the conditioners with the combs attatched DO work for the rewards, and my cashier told me they are great combs.

3 seperate transactions here, but all identical:

4 John Frieda Root Awakening shampoo/conditioner
-$5/20 Rite Aid Q
-4* $3 JF Qs
=$3.00 subtotal + $1.46 tax = $4.46 OOP
Got back $10 Up+ rewards on each transaction, for a total profit of $16.62.

I also stopped by and picked up some papers on the way home, because silly annathy forgot to get them while at Rite Aid. CVS was out, so I ended up buying them at Pavillions (safeway) which has raised their price to $2 a paper, learned that I won't be buying them there anymore.

Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to buy with that $30 in UP+ rewards... time to start looking at previews!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My favorite Produce place

Is a little store called Sprouts. They're a chain found in Cali, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. I find that the produce there is cheaper than the big Kroger/Ralph's or Safeway/Vons stores, and it is usually better too. Sorry there is no pic today, all this was in the fridge way before I thought about that.

Yesterday on my way home I picked up:
2 6 oz containers raspberries, $1.50 ea
1 6 oz container blueberries, $1.50 ea
1 eggplant, $1.69 ea
4 Nectarines, $0.49/lb
1 bunch asparagus, $1.99/lb
3 roma tomatoes, $0.99/lb
4 avocados, $0.77 ea
For a grand total of $12.46 for my produce this week.

For a comparison, the big stores are advertising avocados for $1.25 ea and blueberries for $2.99 per container this week. Ouch!

Yum... I love summer and all the wonderful fresh fruit and veggies that go with it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

John Frieda & Singer

Just a quick trip to WAGS today. It pains me a little bit inside to pay for shampoo, but I really love John Frieda's root awakening stuff! Plus, I have had no luck finding cheap neutrogena or the survey in the gillette, so I needed to burn RR's on something!

$15 for 3 JF Shampoo (the first two rang up as 5.99, third as 3.02)
$1.00 clearanced Singer iron-on patches
$0.20 clearanced knee-highs
-3*$2/1 JF coupons (I'm out of the $3/1 ones)
-$5 RR
-$4 RR
=$1.20 + tax = $2.62 OOP, and got back $5 RR for the JF

So the JF shampoo I love, the knee-highs were just the cheapest filler I could find, and the Singer patches are for my around-the-house jeans, which I wear until they are so shamefully tattered that it would make your eyes hurt. I can't help it that jeans get softer as they age. Or that newer styles always seem to be all ripped up. Call me old fashioned, but I like my pants to be INTACT when I buy them.

FYI for you kids who actually sew (you'll notice the patches I bought were iron-on), there were a number of Singer brand things in the clearance section of my store for $1- needle multi-packs, oversized safety pins, things of that nature... so keep an eye out for some good fillers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A little bit of everything

A picture! I still haven't found the cord for my camera, but guess what? My PHONE has a camera, and it can email them to me. Success!

This is yesterday's loot. Of course, I forgot to print out the $5/20 rite aid coupon, so I only bought the moneymakers at RA. Also, I had to put the "SWAGGER" body wash in front of our pirate wine holder. It's just the right thing to do.

Ride Aid 1:
$3.50 Old Spice
$3.50 Old Spice
$7.99 Blink Tears
-$3.50 BOGO OS Q
-$2 Blink Q
=$9.49 + tax, put $8.77 (the Blink) on my FSA debit, and $2.18 on a RA GC. No OOP!
Got $4 Up+ bucks back, and will get $7.99 SCR back

Rite Aid 2:
$3.50 Old Spice
$3.50 Old Spice
-$4.79 BOGO OS Q (cashier put in shelf price)
=2.21 + tax, put $2.89 on GC, and got $4 Up+ bucks back

$5.00 John Frieda (30% more bottles don't work for the RR per frugalsuz)
$5.00 John Frieda
$5.00 John Frieda
$9.99 Gillette ProGlide
$0.39 WAGS starlight mints (filler)
-3*$3.00 JF Q's
-$4 Gillette Q
-$10 RR from Neutrogena bars
=$2.38 + tax, paid $4.71 OOP
Got $5 RR for JF, and $5 RR for Gillette

$2.50 Dove Dark Chocolate bag
$2.50 Dove Dark Chocolate bag
-$4.99 EB
=$0.01! Paid with one shiney penny from my purse. I'd been toying with retiring this card, and this was my last EB on it, so they lured me back with a $5/$15 that printed on this receipt. Also, I don't know if my green tags are transferrable to a new card, and I have 3 of them, so probably no card retiring for me.

And now, for today's loot!

A moneymakin' day! That $5/15 at CVS was burnin' a hole in my pocket, plus I remembered the $5/20 Rite Aid Q!

$8.99 Venus razor- not a great deal, but with the $5/15 I couldn't pass it up. Love these!
$3.99 Rolaids
$3.99 Rolaids
-$5/15 CVS CRT
-$2 Venus Q
-$4/2 Rolaids Q
=$5.97 + tax, paid $7.02 OOP. My reciept notes that 7.02 was FSA eligible because of the Rolaids, so if I'd been thinking I'd have paid with my FSA debit. Oh well.
Got back $4 EBs for Rolaids, $4 EBs for Venus, and I came up on my next $1 EB for my green bag tags.

Rite Aid 1:
$3.50 OS Body Wash
$3.50 OS Body Wash
$9.99 Gillette ProGlide
$4.99 JF Shampoo (I did go for the 30% more bottle here)
-$3.50 BOGO OS Q
-$4 Gillette Q
-$3 JF Q
-$4 Up+ bucks from yesterday
-$5/20 RA Q
=2.48 + tax, paid 3.97 OOP
Got $4 Up+ bucks back, and will get $5.00 SCR for Razor and $1 SCR for JF

Rite Aid 2:
$3.50 OS Body Wash
$3.50 OS Body Wash
$0.99 Act II popcorn
-$3.50 BOGO OS Q
-$4 Up+ bucks from yesterday
=0.49 + tax, paid $1.10 OOP
Got $4 Up+ bucks back, and will now- hopefully- qualify for $5 RA GC SCR for buying $25 of qualifying P&G Products.

If you're still with me, thanks so much for reading! I know I've been a touch (cough, cough, understatement) out of it lately with all the family stuff, work, and my whole camera-cord issue. Plus, this is really long today.

Thanks agin guys!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Frozen Dinners, yum!

Okay, not exactly yum! but they are good enough for lunch when I don't feel like making anything myself. This has basically been it for me this week since I can't find my 4/18 insert, which seems to have all the Q's for the sales this week. Oops.

7*$1.89 Smart Ones Frozen Meal
3*$2.25 Smart Ones Frozen Meal
$2.39 Aluminum Foil (needed it)
-$4.00/10 Smart Ones Manf. Q
-$0.05 Bag discount
+$0.20 tax on foil
=$18.52 OOP, and got back a $5 Target GC for buying the Smart Ones.

I'm not sure which ones were $2.25, but the ad did say some varieties were still that price, so I'll need to note the shelf better in the future- I'm not that picky on which ones I get. Still, with the coupon and gift card I paid just over $1 per meal, which in my area is a great price on these.

Also, the manf. coupon was a peelie from a Smart Ones I bought at Target awhile ago, so your Target may still have the peelies on them, especially if they don't do a lot of turnover on those items. I do not remember exactly when I got it, but I don't feel like it could have been too long ago.

Happy Hounding!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Retail Therapy

There is nothing like doing normal things to try and return yourself to a sense of normalcy... So it was off to wags and cvs for me this week. Unfortunately, my wags was out of the razors, which is rather unusual since that store is really strict on the limits thing.

$2.99 eos shave cream
$1.50 skippy peanut butter
$0.69 pantyhose
Used $3 and $2 rr's, paid $1.11 including tax and got a $3 rr back

$4.99 u pantyliners
$0.99 cvs conditioner
-$1 cvs hair crt
-$1 u Manf coupon
-$3 EBs
Paid 0.98 plus whatever the tax was, got $4.99 EB back

Cvs trip 2
$3.50 each, 2 crest toothpaste
$2 reach floss
$0.99 green bag
$0.99 green tag
$3 dove dark chocolates
$1 carefree panty liners
-$1 carefree q
-$1 reach floss q
-2*$0.75 crest q
-$1 wyb green bag and green tag CRT
-$9 EBs
Paid 2.34 including tax, and got $9 extra bucks back.

I probably could have found a more frugal filler to allow me to use $9 extra bucks, but frankly I needed the chocolate. Sometimes a gal needs the chocolate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Sadness

My uncle's death was caused by a stroke, as was suspected. One of the arteries to his brain was all but completely blocked, despite the fact that he was a portrait of health- didn't smoke, barely drank, and as far as excercise- the man climbed Mt. Whitney last year. He also had an enlarged heart, which is only detectable by Echo (heart sonnogram) and MRI, though I'm not sure the heart was related directly to the stroke. He was 49.

I really wish people would stop dying when they aren't supposed to.

May 5th is always a bit of a rough day, as it marks the anniversary of my father's death. So when my Mom called me this morning crying, at first I thought that was why. I wish. Her brother passed away in his sleep, my aunt woke up in the middle of the night to find him not breathing.

Awesome. Just awesome. Seems like there is a big party going on upstairs, and I really wish they'd stop sending out invitations to people that still belong down here on the ground.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brooks & Dunn & Avocados, Oh My!

I am so excited about Avocados this week! Both Vons/Safeway and Sprouts have them on sale for $0.50 (Sprouts is $0.47 I think, but I know most people don't have one of those nearby). I can hear the guac and veggie-focused sandwiches calling my name this week!

I also had the BEST time Tuesday evening. Toyota sponsered a private Brooks & Dunn concert at Club Nokia in LA and my roommate had tickets (it pays to fill out those surveys- she got them free for filling out a Toyota customer service one regarding the recall on her car), so off we went! The venue had maybe 1000 people in it, so everyone was really close up- definately the closest I have ever been to a famous performer.

Parking: $15
Pre-concert dining/beverage (for me and roomie): $40.50
In-concert beverage: $8
Seeing Brooks & Dunn's final (as of now) concert in LA: Priceless!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gorgeous, frugal weekend!

I desperately need to find my camera cord. I have pictures that I want to put up on here, but I can't seem to locate that magic little thing that connects my camera to my computer. If I did I would have better pictures of this view for you.

This weekend was so beautiful, my friend and I drove to Palos Verdes on Saturday and meandered around some of the hiking trails. You can see the Pacific ocean from basically everywhere, and while it wasn't clear enough to see Catalina very well, the day was flat out gorgeous.

Sunday was a wonderfully lazy day after about 2 p.m. Before that it was a "clean the house" day (after sleeping in of course). I did let a $1 RR expire, but since it was so low (and gas isn't free) I'm OK with that. My neighbors and I grilled out and played cards and Jenga instead, and watched a few episodes of Match game on TV land. Seeing some of the 70's outfits on that show makes me wonder what aspects of todays dress will be made fun of in 30 years, but I digress.

So this was a wonderful weekend, and frugal to boot! My friend and I spent a few dollars on ice cream (well deserved on account of our hike) rather than going out to eat, and my only other expenditures were most of my weekly grocery shopping (~$25), and picking up some of that free Kotex at WAGS.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I am smart, S, M, R, T!

I have not done a lot of couponing lately, since work has been, what's the word? Oh yes. INSANE.

So I'm at work by the port, and right next door is the mercedes lot where they keep the cars between when they're offloaded from the boat and when they take them to the dealership. I could seriously count the number of true mercedes on my fingers. However, the lot had hundreds upon hundreds of those tiny little smart cars.

And I think to myself, "Self, who would by those?". Usually I don't look at other passengers, but sure as the grass is green, I passed a smart car yesterday that I just could not NOT look at. The guy driving must have been well over 6' tall, you couldn't even see the top of his head! Clearly these things were not built for big guys.

Now certainly, they'd be great for retirement communities as one serious golf-cart upgrade, and for going to the grocery store and such if you don't drive often. And they are a very frugal car choice (they start under 10K if I'm not mistaken). But at what hidden cost?

The mileage is good, but not great- my non-hybrid civic actually gets significantly better. You can only have one passenger, and the trunk is teeny. And then there is the safety aspect. I know they scored well in crash tests, but most crash tests only go up to 45 mph, and most are static (where they crash the car into a wall, not another moving car)- so most crash tests aren't very good representations of real-life safety- particularly on the highway. They provide a good baseline comparison to be sure, but I'd be interested to see what consumer reports or a company that really puts cars through the ringer came up with.

Different strokes for different folks I guess. But I'm still going to laugh when I pass a 6'6" guy squished into one of those cars.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

EB Usage

I've been a bad hound lately- almost letting EBs expire again! I stopped by CVS yesterday after realizing I had $8.50 in EBs expiring, and picked up a few things.

$3.99 Colgate sensitive toothpaste (EB deal, limit 1)
$0.97 Kleenex tissues
2*$1.00 Lindsay Olives
$2.50 PAM cooking spray
-$3.50 EB
-$$5.00 EB
=$1.39 OOP

If I'd had my Q's on me I could have done better doing the Stayfree deal, but no biggie. The CRT fairies were smiling on me, and I got a $4/2 Stayfree CRT- combined with a BOGO Q and the EB deal going on I will definately be back for some moneymakin' Stayfree this week!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clearanced Nuts at WAGS

My local WAGS has Deerfield farms bagged nuts on clearance. They were down to $0.50 for a small bag (2 oz for Walnuts and 3 oz for Almond Slivers). That works out to $2.67 a pound for Almond slivers and $4 a pound for walnuts, packaged in convienient little sizes! Definately check your WAGS- mine had these in the pantry aisle near the jello and things, not with the rest of the clearance merchandise.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Retirement Game Plan

I don't have an actual number in mind. Because I'm very young (turning the big 2-5 this year!), I feel like there are so many variables that it is really difficult to get a good feel for what amount of cash I'll need and at what age.
What I do know, is that I want the possibility for the age number to be low! Unless the rules change, I'll be able to withdrawl from tax-sheltered accounts like my 401(k) at 59 and 1/2- but what if I want to go out at 50 or 55 instead?
That's why it is important for me to utilize multiple retirement vehicles. Right now I'm using:

1) My 401(k) with match through my employer- I like this because my employer matches it with some free money, and it keeps California's paws off some of mine- at least for now, and I can't see myself retiring in one of the highest taxed states.

2) My Roth IRA- I like this because it lets me grow earnings tax-free, and with our budget being 48% loaned this year (which makes me sick) federal taxes will certainly be going UP in the future. Also, my investment choices are basically infinate compared with my 401(k). I could use some on a home down payment eventually, but I'd rather let it continnue to grow if I can.

3) My Mutual Fund account- I like this because I could consolidate to cash if I need/want to. This lets me not only keep it as my "before 59.5 nestegg", but I have the option of using it for a down payment on a home, or liquifying some to live on during an extended job loss or something like that. It also allows me to save additional cash in years I max out the other two options.

4) Social Security- HA. Ha. ha. Government's cruel joke for us younger folk. Not a snowball's chance in you-know-where this program will pay me anything in 40+ years, but I'm stuck paying it anyways. Imagine how much that sum could be if my SS payments were invested modestly and the program worked as it was originally intended to... ah, sweet, parallel universe.

I think with very few (if any) exceptions, everyone should max out their employer match first if they have one in their 401(k). From there, it really depends on your situtation and what kind of taxes you pay now vs. what you expect to in the future. Of course, I'm just a regular gal and no expert, so don't go taking my words as gospel.

What about you guys? Thoughts?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A little blog remodeling

I did a good deal of thinking last week about a lot (my cousin's death included), and one of the things I realized was that I wasn't posting much because I had inadvertanly made this blog primarily about couponing without thinking about what else I may want to put in it.

So I may be changing a few things. I started with the formatting, and the name. My real goal is beyond just saving and couponing, though I still intend to do and post about those things! It's about retiring early (to me retirement means having the freedom to do what you want, which may or may not include working) and maintaining a quality of life that I enjoy. If I drop dead in 10 years, I do not want to have pinched so hard for the future that I didn't enjoy my time here the way I could have- so I am working to find that balance.

Things I'm thinking about posting are things like retirement savings- both tax sheltered and not- what kind of investments I look at, why it can be better to rent, basically aspects of personal finance that I haven't talked about on here but think about regularly.

As for the quality of life bit, that goes back to couponing a lot. One aspect of frugality to me is not paying more for something than I need to. $3 may not be a lot of money for shampoo or toothpaste, but I can get them for free, so why wouldn't I? However, if one product is WAY better than another, I'll pay the difference in cost, but I need to have reason. Like whole grain pasta costs more than the regular stuff, and deodorant that doesn't irritate my skin (Dove) costs more than the other things I've tried. I'm still going to get those items as cheaply as I can, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the quality there to save a little bit (provided I am saving a decent chunk, of course).

So, thoughts? It's going to be a little ad-hoc around here til I get the hang of this, but I'm going to try and be around more for sure.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bad things happen to good people

I got a call this morning that my cousin's husband has suffered a massive stroke and is completely brain dead. Some kind of brain stem growth that is inoperable because of where it is, and he is currently in a coma with things not looking good. Seriously?!?! The man is in his early 30's, and they just got married at the end of January (though we'd long considered him part of the family, they have been together nearly a decade), and I don't think had any family history. 24 hours ago he was fine, and now they are waiting for his sister to fly in and finish goodbyes before they pull the plug.

My neighbor's girlfriend is also in a coma, caused by a car accident (hydroplaning during all the rain last month)- it has been so hard on him. Seeing him fight that battle, and remembering how hard my father's death was on my mom- it just kills me to know she's going to have to go through all that. Married for 6 weeks before becoming a widow... it just isn't right.

With all the scum out there in the world, why does this crap always seem to happen to the best of people?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jamaica'n me crazy

One of the things I make a big point to save for are vacations. Some of the strongest memories I have of growing up, and especially of my father- as he worked long hours and I was in after school sports and things- were our family vacations. I think because of that I place a very high emphasis on vacations within my "fun fund". While a great vacation can be as simple as going home to spend time with family, I enjoy recharging in a more fantasy-type one if I can afford to do so. After all, to me personal finance is more than saving every dime I can- it's also about maintaining the balance between present and future.

Because I have been extremely fortunate, and live below my means, affording a vacation has been more about time than money for me since I graduated. I don't get much time off, and up til now I've been using most of it to travel home for weddings, and last year for Christmas, which was wonderful. However, I've managed to save up enough to take a trip with DBF in September to go to...

Jamaica! The place looks gorgeous, and some of our friends actually got married at this exact resort. We are going to Sandals, which is all inclusive (basically, zip-lining and a few excursion-type things like that we want to do will be extra). So once we're there, we do not pay for food, drinks, tips, anything of that nature. There is a beautiful beach and many pools, games you can borrow from the lobby, etc, so I'm sure a lot of our time will be spent just relaxing and enjoying the resort.

And the base cost? For our room, airfare, taxes, etc- and trip insurance (September is still Hurricane season there after all)- we will each pay $1,652.32. Even though we got it on a great sale, it's not cheap to be sure, but that is why I save for the thing! And considering everything that it includes, I believe it will be money I'm glad I spent. Super excited!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I love me some Rite Aid!

And some Covergirl! I was driving down to San Diego for work today and had to stop for gas, and lo and behold there was an RA in the same center. I decided it was fate, and went in armed with my Qs after the free CG makeup. I should also mention I used Coupon Dede for the first time for these, since I don't usually buy 5 papers.

4*8.49 CG Blast Mascara, BOGO
2*15.99 CG/Olay ageless foundation, BOGO
2*9.99 CG TruBlend foundation, BOGO
2*8.99 CG TruBlend pressed powder, BOGO
-5 BOGO coupons
=4.59 (I think, reciept is in the car), CA sales tax only

Even with the cost of the coupon handling (and btw I should have gotten more of these, the fillers I picked to get to the $3.00 minimum are lacking), I spent about 8.50 on all this makeup, which subtotaled at just over $100. I picked a variety of shades for the foundations/powders so I can donate them to a charity in my area that helps abused women prepare for job interviews and the workplace. My neighbor volunteers at the no-cost preschool some of the kids go to and I'm really excited to be able to give these to the organization. And heck, with a tax reciept, my pockets are pretty stoked too!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rolling, rolling, rolling

I almost committed the cardinal sin of couponing at WAGS and CVS. Some of my EB's would have expired today, so I used them up in the nick of time last night!

$8.99 schick razor refills (normally I'd pass on this, but hey, had to buy something with the expring EB and it's a decent deal)
$4.99 Softsoap Nutriserum body wash
$1 Dollar Days Notebook
-$4 schick Q (2/28 insert)
-$1 Softsoap Q (March All You)
-$9 EBs
=$0.98+ tax
Recieved $3 EB for schick, $4 EB for softsoap

6*2.29 Kleenex boxes, on sale BOGO so paid that for 3
-$0.50/3 Q (you should be able to use 2 of these if you have them)
-$4 RR (from Goody hairties last week)
=2.37+ tax
Recieved $3 RR for buying 6 or more (not advertised, it's a national kleenex promo)

$8.99 Intuition razor (these are my FAVORITE!)
$9/2 Purex 3-in-1
-$4 Intuition Q (2/28 insert)
-$4.50 Purex BOGO Q (2/21 insert)
=9.49+ tax
Recieved $3 RR for Intuition, $1 RR for Purex 3-in-1

If your WAGS rings up the regular Purex as a true BOGO (5.99 for first, $0.00 for second), that is a better deal, but mine the registers were ringing them up half price each, so the BOGO Q wouldn't have made them free. They still would have cost a little less than the 3-in-1, but for the extra $0.25 each I decided to try these.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spending RRs

I'm loving WAGS a little this week. A few days ago I earned $23 in RRs, and have spent $20 of it on things I would have had to buy eventually anyways.

Trans #1:
4 Progresso Soups ($5/4 with In-Ad coupon)
2 Quaker Instant Oatmeal boxes ($5/2)
3 Lindsey Olives ($0.99 ea with In-Ad coupon)
Subtotal: 12.97
-2*$0.50/2 Progresso Coupons
-$1/1 Quaker Instant Oatmeal
-$10 RR (from nyquil/dayquil)
Total: $0.97 OOP

Trans #2
Valentines card for DBF $2.49
Valentines card for Dear Mom $3.99
4 Progresso Soups ($5/4 with In-Ad coupon)
Subtotal: 11.48
-2*$0.50/2 Progresso Coupons
-2 $5 RRs (from Theraflu and Sudafed)
Total: $0.48+ $0.63 tax = $1.11 OOP

The Progresso Q's were from the 1/3 inserts, the Quaker from a February insert. A slight word of caution- be sure to check the best by dates on the canned goods before you buy- mine all are sometime in 2011 but since WAGS may not move a whole lot of this kind of stuff it's definately something to watch out for.

Happy Hounding!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Creative with FSA

Okay, not SUPER creative (after all, I have to follow the rules... I don't have any plans to anger the tax man). But really, anyone else overestimate their health expenses for their benefit year? Yeah, me too. Getting my wisdom teeth out cost about $300 less than I was expecting, and switching from a PPO to an HMO last year about halved my prescription costs. Both of these things are great, but I have to be sure I spend that money on something else now since FSA funds are use it or lose it!

I've decided to stock up on over-the-counter items, which is totally OK to do provided the products are for me (and they are). For the getting creative part, I'm doing it with products at WAGS, CVS, and RA that somehow reward you so that I can lower my OOP for groceries. My FSA program is pretty good about completing reimbursements quickly, so any OOP for those will come back to me soon enough for me to dismiss that cost. After all, the moola has already been deducted from my checks, so it's already gone no matter if I use it or not.

This week there are several RR deals on medicine at Walgreens, and I've done:
NyQuil/Dayquil: Spend $20 get $10RR. Well, spend $22.45, get $10RR since the prices don't permit you to hit $20 on the nose. With enough $1.50/1 Q's from the 2/7 P&G this would have been a fantastic price (I only had 1 Q, but it was still pretty good)
Sudafed/Tylenol Cold: Spend $15, get $5RR. Again, you have to spend more than that (19.96 actually) since the prices are $4.99 each. This annoyed me a touch, but I use Sudafed regularly when the weather goes wakky. Plus, the Q's out are for $3/2 (from the 1/4 inserts).
BenGay (or Tylenol): Buy 2 ($9.98 total), get $3RR. BenGay has $2/1 Q's in the 1/4 insert, which makes these way cheaper than usual.
Theraflu/Triaminic: Buy 2 ($10 total), get $5RR. There are $1.50 Q's out for each.

To sum it up, my transaction went like this:
5 Nyquil/Dayquil * $4.49 each
4 Sudafed/Tylenol Cold * 4.99 each
2 BenGay * 4.99 each
2 Theraflu/Triaminic * $5 each
-$1.50 Nyquil Q
-$1.50 Thereaflu Q
-$1.50 Triaminic Q
-$2 BenGay Q
-$2 BenGay Q
-$3 Sudafed/Tylenol Cold Q
-$3 Sudafed/Tylenol Cold Q

With tax my total came to right around $53, all of which will be reimbursed from my FSA fund. In return, I got $23 in RR that I can now spend on groceries, etc. I'm pretty excited about the Progresso and Quaker being on sale this week, but we'll see what I end up getting. Thanks for reading, and happy hounding!

Friday, January 15, 2010

If you need Drano or Windex...

With all the attention I was paying to the CVS deals going on, I almost missed this at Rite Aid! (FYI if you live in a Cali market where the RA sales run Fri-Thur instead of Sun-Sat sorry this is posted too late- for everyone else the deal should be good today and tomorrow)

Drano, which is usually pricey by my standards (~$6), and a requirement at my place when too much hair accumulates in the shower/sink p-traps, is on sale for $2.99 with an in-ad RA coupon this week. My store also had $0.55 peelies on the bottles, making them just $2.44 each! Even better, if you haven't maxed out the SCJohnson rebate ($5 back WYB any 3), it's a qualifying product!

Another qualifying product is Windex, which is also at RA for $1.99 with in-ad coupon. The traditional Windex bottles at my store had a $0.50 peelie for the windex wipes, which are on the same sale price.

With the rebate these products are dirt cheap, and even without they are still great deals- especially if you can pair them up with rebate items and use a $5/$20 or $5/$25 RA coupon!

Happy Hounding!