Monday, December 29, 2008

Enjoying Yourself While on a Budget

So I normally post about getting the most bang for your buck, and stocking up on things you know you need, and on and on. But the other side of being frugal is to not be so cheap you deny yourself small luxeries like maybe a $5 pizza from Little Caesar's once a month, or a coffee (which we now have gift cards for, yay gifts!). It also means to save your cash for a larger purchase.

We have been wanting the Wii (well, mainly me. But Matt would want the Xbox360. I pointed out there aren't really many games I would like, having always had a Nintendo system. The games also cost more.) His cousin brought his Wii Fit over to grandma's and we really liked it. Granted it's costly too, and also sold out EVERYWHERE. But I would also get the Jillian Michaels workout game, which would help us work out more when it isn't convenient to go to the gym.

So we took our cash, Target gift cards, and drove on a Wii hunt on the way home last night.

First stop was Fry's, where they ONLY sell the console in a bundle with crap we don't need like HD A/V cables (we don't have a fancy-dancy TV) and a charging dock for the remotes (duh, rechargeable batteries!). So we left there, because I don't really like them anyway.

Went across the street and Toys R Us was out, so run next door to Best Buy. As we near the video game section, we see an employee holding a Wii box above his head. I think he was showing the other associates he had one so they would know. Matt is like "Hey, got any more?" And the guy says that one was just returned and it is now yours (don't worry, unopened. Guess they didn't want it??!?). So we get that, and an extra remote and nunchuck (no one else had remotes in stock! Best Buy only had 3) and yeah, tax is 8% there, ugh. So that was $335.

Then Matt goes back to Fry's to buy a 'gun' for the Wii for $16 (again, that 8% tax).

We stop at Target on the way home (all of the Targets around us are in high-tax areas. This one is 10%. Silly Cook County) to pick up the super-sale-priced items of Call of Duty ($39) and Guitar Hero World Tour w/guitar and game ($77...GREAT price. At/over $100 everywhere regular price) and spend $127 (but use $75 in GC on that).

That brings our total to $478.56. Why did we feel we could spend that amount?
1 - This is the third Christmas season for the Wii, and it has yet to go down in price. It will most likely be a long time before it does
2 - We had $75 in Target gift cards
3 - We had a combined total of $265 in cash of Christmas gifts
4 - Matt has an amazing job and just got his bonuses and his PTO will be paid out in a couple weeks
5 - This is something we really want and can use together
6 - We can sell our Game Cube console as the games work on the Wii
7 - May even sell N64 as we really don't use it (use our SNES though!)

So yes, I feel if you can pay 'cash' for things like this, go for it! I would never ever charge it if I could not afford it. While many people don't even have credit cards and would have paid straight cash for this shopping spree, I don't agree. I get money back on my credit card (3% on most purchases, 1% on the rest. Earn $200 in your 'rewards account' and you can actually get $250 CASH back, NOT a statement credit!), pay it in full each month, and do carefully watch how much I put on there. So it is worth it to me to put all this cash in the bank and charge the system. I like the security of charging large electronics in case something is wrong and it needs to be returned and the store gives you trouble. We will use the PTO to pay for the rest of the system. More games will wait until we have extra money again (like my birthday in February when maybe the Wii Fit will be back in stock) but for now Guitar Hero is one of our favorites anyway.

We also plan ahead for things like Matt can upgrade his cell phone in March when he needs to sign a new service plan, but it may die ahead of that time. He is already planning to use his birthday money (January) to buy a nice one that will last him the next two years. With careful planning, you CAN have the nice things you want that are truly extras!!

I hope you enjoyed this full disclosure. I'd be happy to discuss more of my ideas on budgeting ;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Knitting Update!

Road trip to Iowa last weekend. Knit the rest of sock #1 and the entire foot (ready to turn heel) on sock #2.
I somehow lost my amazing mittens between last winter and this winter. So bummed! My hands have been SO cold. So now that the negative temps are done (at least for now!) I have yarn to make more, because my uncle spoiled me. My bro was with me and picked out yarn for mittens as well:
It is called "Navy Nite" but is definitely purple. Strange. He'll wear them though. Mine will have the same turquoise with a darker turquoise as the main color.

FO! Dolman top from Knit So Fine. Yarn bought half off at Stitches. Fits fine, just the BO on the front piece is too tight so it is hard to get on and off but I like it!
Yay gratuitous kitty shot! He's so sweet when he is sleeping
Sleepy Kitty!

It's been snowing for about 20 hours! So pretty, but a pain driving in it, ugh!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CVS 2-day sale

I put everything away immediately after arriving home, because we had to clear off the table to eat, so no pic. Boring, I know ;) Plus hubby was cranky from going to the store and having to wait for the cashier to write out 4 different rainchecks. But I got most of what I wanted. However, we picked up the wrong eyeshadow at first and thankfully the cashier caught it before she rung it up, except that I then had to recalculate as I stood there, meaning I wasn't able to used my Crest $1 coupons, but I did use some expired coupons (no idea if this CVS accepts them or not, but she pushed them through)

Hall's cough drops: $2.59 Free after Extra Bucks (FAECB), $.50 manq
Crest Pro-Health: $2.99, earn $2 ECB x2 = $.99 each
Sally Hansen Nail Polish: $5.99 FAECBx2, $3/2 coupon
Excedrin: $3.99, used $2 manq and $1 CVS CRT (both expired), paid $.99, earned $3.99 ECB and will mail-in for $3.99 rebate, so -$6.57 for it! Great stuff, plus only 20ct, so more is always good.
Trans. #1: used $17.67 ECB, $.49 on GC, earned $22.56 ECB

For Trans. #2 at 2nd store, our goal was to use up my ECBs expiring on 12/26.
Russel Stover's holiday candy:$.50x2
Hershey Take 5: $.89 (this should be my 10th Hershey bar to earn a free one)
CVS band-aids: $.79, great sale and an item we needed! Regular $2.99
L'Oreal HIP eyeshadow: $6.99 FAECB, $1 manq
Benefiber: $7.29 FAECB, $2 manq
Bandaids: $4.49 (Matt uses a lot of bandaids in winter. finger splits)
Trans. #2: used $17.96 ECB, $.74 on GC, earned $14.28 ECB

So still came out $1.21 ECB ahead ;)

Now debating on if I should go to Walgreens at midnight, or when I wake up at 6:30. They had 5 hairdryers in stock. Tomorrow ONLY (think it is an item they want to clear out, no rainchecks) a $20 hairdryer is on sale for $10 and you earn $10 RR. GREAT! Mine has a funny smell sometimes, which isn't good. This seems decent and is the same speed as my current one, so worth it if I can find it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Walgreens Today

The $5 RR I got from last week's deal expires the 20th, so I had to use it up this week. I was happy to see the kid's Listerine on sale, which Matt loves, haha.
Listerine: 2/$9, used two $1 coupons
Russell Stover's Chocolate Cream Egg: $.39 (as a filler to use my RR)
Paid with $5 RR and $2.16 from my gift card, earned $4.50 RR on the Listerine!
Yes, there are two eggs in the picture...when she scanned the 7-day coupon from the ad, the register said "incorrect product" and we realized I picked up the Cadbury egg. She took it off and I ran back for the RS one. Well, even though she voided it, she somehow put it in my bag...but that's the one I wanted anyway ;) Oh well. Bonus for me, because I'm not driving back to the store for $.59 they accidentally gave me. They'd surely tell me to keep it anyway.
Then I stopped at another store, where I don't think many couponers go as they seem to have things I need for my deals.
Bought 11 boxes of Turtles ($10.89), used 7 $1.50 coupons ($10.50) = $.39 for 11 boxes Great gifts as my dad and his step-dad love these.
Bought 2 Russell Stovers Luminaries for $4.99 each. They count for the "buy 2 get $10" rebate, which after bonus is $11.
Paid with my $4.50 RR and $6.24 GC. Will earn $11 on my rebate GC!

Total today: $6.63 cash and $9.50 RR used, earn $11 rebate. Very cool!

Baking Bonanza

I'm not used to taking food photos like Bezzie is, but here goes:

Pumpkin rolls. Very mild flavor, but yummy nonetheless. Pretty color, as well!

Kolacky dough, totally forgot the finished pic since I finished them at my mom's house. Why yes, pound of butter and brick o cream cheese. Add flour. Finito. I used apricot preserves on them, turned out so good and got many compliments at our work potluck today =)

Double Chocolate Treasures, a very old Quaker oats recipe that we make every single year. I love it. I chopped up bags of Hershey Bliss milk chocolates instead of buying semi-sweet chocolate chips. Also used them for the Muddy Buddies.

This is just how I roll in my tiny kitchen. You can see the mixer with the butter for kolacky, waiting to soften so I can cream it. The red bowl is the chocolate treasures waiting for the cookie sheets to come out of the oven. Chocolate chip and sugar cookies on the cooling racks (those were Betty Crocker mixes, not too bad!)
So I used free chocolates, and the Chex cereal and BC mixes from all my Jewel deals. Also made a bundt cake with free items as well. Lovin the deals this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Target Today

Airwick LuminAir on 'sale' for $4.99, use $5 coupon so FREE!
Also bought an 8/10 digital print we are using as a Christmas gift, and a pair of socks for a sock exchange with my small group. Used the $5 GC I got a few weeks back and paid $2 cash. Lovin the deals!

CVS - Small Trip

Powerade $1.69 FREE after ECB
Complete $8.99 FREE after ECB
Cotton Swab as filler $.50
Spent $.31 on GC
Used $10.78 ECB, earned $10.58 ECB

Walgreens Mid-Week Special

Last week they started this, but I didn't feel the need to do it, but this week I just couldn't pass it up! Spend $25 on anything, and get a $5 RR for your next purchase. I only had $7 left on my GC, but wondered just how little I could spend!

Reynolds Wrap ($1.69 towards total) -> $.99 w/in-ad coupon, $1 manq = -$.02
Sure Deodorant ($2.50 towards total) -> $1.50 ESQ, $1 manq = FREE
Bic Soliel ($6.99 BOGO) -> $3 manqx2 = $.99
Walgreens Cough Drops ($.99 towards total) -> $.69 w/in-ad coupon = $2.07 (use towards the spend $25 on WAGS get $10 gift card)

Total: $25.84 as rung
Store coupons: $9.80
Man. coupons: $13
Total w/tax: $3.88
Received $5 RR

Totally sweet =) More of my fave razors (I'll NEVER run out!), foil for my holiday baking, and deodorant to donate, along with the cough drops

To be fair...

Yesterday, the first person Matt connected to (after voice prompts, it rang, no holding at all) was very nice and helpful. Said try this, try this, still not working...okay, in IE check this...okay, uncheck that box...magic! It worked. We asked her (hey, we had reason!) if this meant we really had internet (since it is showing when I check our account online) and they would not take it away like they did last time...and she confirmed that. So only time will tell, but at least we got someone who knew how to troubleshoot. so...yay!

Now off to run errands. There is a Walgreen's deal I want to pull off, but it always depends on them having every item in stock, which is soooo tricky. Wish it wasn't! But I do drive past 4 of them on my way to church. haha.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Open Complaint of Comcast

So...on Wed 11/26 Matt calls Comcast to request the $25 'economy internet package' we have seen offered on TV and on postcards to our mailbox. Seems easy enough. They give him a confirmation number and tell us what our monthly bill will be for the TV and internet combined. Say I can pick up my free self-install kit to go with the modem we purchased from Amazon. There will be a phone number to call to connect our service once I have it hooked up. Easy enough, eh?

Pick up kit on Friday. Very friendly at the office. Get home. Install modem. Pop in the Comcast CD to install the internet. All is smooth until I get to a screen that tells me to choose my service level so they can configure my modem. Only problem is, they list a $42 and a $52 service. Okaaaay, now what. No phone number in box that says "call here to connect!" So I call their general number. I go through EIGHT people and am on the phone for an hour, being switched from all departments, most of which have no idea why I was transferred to them. Finally get a guy who tells me to select the $42 service to configure my modem, but he does see on my account the confirmation for the economy internet and it will all be fine, I'll be able to get online and will be charged the correct monthly amount.

While that was a horrible experience, at least I had internet.

For a week.

Matt calls me this past Friday because he turned on the computer and the internet won't connect. I give him a few things to try and we determine it has to be on their end, seeing as how the internet was fine on Thursday and we didn't do anything to the computer since then except turn it off overnight.

So he calls comcast. They say there is no internet on our account; that we are only subscribed to TV. Excuse me? How the heck did I use it for a week if I "don't have internet"? It's not like you can magically connect to Comcast's internet. They said they could send a technician out on Saturday, but only after Matt insisted because he had work to do online (which he really did...sheesh). They said between 10-1 so we sat around at home even though we had errands to do. Then a bit before noon they call and say due to weather they will be later, 1-4. Okay fine. We run our errands in a quick hour, eat lunch. They call at 3 to say they can come at 6. Which we couldn't wait for as we had my Christmas party from work.

So they wasted my entire day, we don't have internet, and they have very inconvenient service hours and we aren't home this next Saturday either. Meanwhile, you know they now have internet on our account even though we can't access it. ARGH. So if they ever do come, surely they will try and pin it as our fault, which is $50, and not their fault which is free to us. But seriously. We did nothing to make it stop working. It's them, no question. So now I am trying to play with things and uninstall all of the Comcast software but to no avail. Now it gives weird error messages about my operating system not being correct, etc. I think not.

I think what happened is even though that guy said it would be fine to configure my modem with the $42 option, someone noticed it and saw we weren't getting the level of service we are signed up for and cut us off. But I'm having trouble restoring my computer back to the previous state before comcast arrived, so I'm not sure if/when I can fix it. We really want internet, and this is the most economical option. Plus, I don't want the hassle of returning an opened modem to Amazon, nor having to drive back to the Comcast office with my install kit. This is some of the worst service EVER.

ETA: Checked our account online today. yup, as of 12/6 it says we are being billed for economy internet for 12/5-1/6. I think not! If I can't fix it tonight they are going to hear from us to say that they cannot bill us until they come out and set it up for free since they are the ones that broke it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Snowy day!

There was almost three inches on my car this morning. Yay!!

CVS Today

Today I bought the Promax Energy Bars that are on sale this week for 3/$5 and in the monthly book there is a "Buy 3 get $5 ECB" deal, limit 5.

Transaction #1: Buy 6 bars, use $10 ECB, earn $10 ECB

Transaction #2: Buy 6 bars, use $10 ECB, earn $10 ECB

Transaction #3: Buy 3 bars. Buy 2 Gas-X strips ($5.69) and one chewable ($10.69), $1 coupon on each Gas-X. Spend $23.47 ECB, earn $15.

So I lost a little bit of bucks, but it was an item we needed. Plus, I will use the energy bars as my uncle's Christmas gift. woo hoo! More free Christmas shopping ;)