This one's for everyone who's going through a rough patch right now. Sometimes you just have to de-stress before you can figure out how to solve problems. It's time for a lot of us to take a deep breath and enjoy some...
Free (or almost free) Entertainment
Take a walk. Notice the details of your surroundings.
Sit in the sun for a few minutes.
Take a walk while it's snowing and admire the patterns of the snowflakes.
Listen to your favorite music.
Dance to your favorite music.
Watch the sun setting.
Sit or lie down and do nothing (relax) for 20 minutes.
Go to bed early.
Read an engaging novel.
Cook a dish you haven't made before.
Rearrange the furniture.
Check the newspaper and plan outings that are free or almost-free. (In our area, museums have reduced prices during certain hours.)
Visualize or write out your dreams and goals.
Read a comic book for children or for adults.
Play a board game with the kids.
Watch the kids playing together.
Listen to birds singing.
Plan to have friends over.
Sing, hum or whistle.
Sort through and organize your photos. Watch family videos.
Plan your next vacation.
Write a letter to a friend.
Smile at someone or compliment them.
Go pick fresh fruit, whatever is in season, apples, strawberries, blueberries.
Make something by hand.
Take a nap.
Watch a good film on television or rent a video.
Listen to a book on tape.
Plan a practical joke on a friend.
Browse in a bookstore.
Try your hand at drawing.
Work a crossword puzzle.
Go see a concert. (There may be free concerts locally.)
Go cross country skiing or snowshoeing; go for a long walk or hike.
Go for a cup of coffee or other beverage.
Eat lunch outside in the sunshine on a terrace or in a park.
Clean the car inside and out.
Pick some weeds that have flowers and make a wildflower bouquet.
Check out a book from the library and teach yourself something new, how to draw, paint, cook, invest in the stock market, sew, or a myriad of other things. Check out tapes and learn a new language.
Turn on your favorite music and take a long soak in the tub by candlelight.
Take a long, hot shower.
Try out different ways of applying your makeup.
Do your nails.
Wear perfume when you're not going out.
Take the time to apply lotion all over your body.
Dress up when you're not going out.
Do your hair when you're not going out.
Do what I can to change a difficult situation.
Accept what I cannot change.
Find something good in what I cannot change.
I've found this list at various web addresses over the years, but it keeps disappearing. I don't know what the Full Baskets Foundation was or is. If anyone associated with them has copyright concerns, please let me know and I'll remove this entry.
Viewing the 'Entertainment' Category
This one's for everyone who's going through a rough patch right now. Sometimes you just have to de-stress before you can figure out how to solve problems. It's time for a lot of us to take a deep breath and enjoy some...
Does anyone else remember Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown?
She has a chapter on money, and I always remember her saying to make sure and spend your money where you'll get the most Happiness Units in return.
Well, it's corny but it's a good point. I'm looking over my spending for the past year, trying to see where I haven't gotten enough happiness units for the money. Those are places that will be easy to cut.
The first obvious category is book/cd/dvd buying (exclusive of Netflix). I spent $132 and the shocking thing is, all but $33 of this was on mailing costs. Mostly for various swapping programs, which were supposed to save me money. The fact is, I sent a lot of stuff out and so far have gotten little in return.
I haven't bought a NEW book in over a year. I bought one DVD that was so obscure even Netflix didn't have it. The rest of the $33 was for used books, most of which I bought to try and sell (unsuccessfully).
So, although $132 is that much in the whole scheme of things, it really didn't buy me much of anything.
I'm going to budget $84 in the coming year (36% reduction), and try to get a lot more for the money. First priority will be trying to get something for the credits I've already earned at the swap sites.
I've been thinking about this for months, and finally took the plunge, for many reasons.
There was a good deal at Staples for the model I'd been thinking about, but with much more storage than I'd ever hoped for. It came to a little over $58. Creative MuVo TX FM with 1GB of storage.(Thank you Fatwallet!)
This model should work with the downloadable audio books they have at the library where I work. (Not all models do.) It has a voice recorder, which I'd thought about buying separately for a long time anyway. You can also store data on it, so it will take the place of a USB thumb drive, which I've thought about too.
It is also a lot cheaper than getting involved with a broadband bill every month, or satellite radio. My dialup is still ok for most things, but lately for downloading radio shows it's been awful. It's supposed to be 56K but often it's been in the 30's or even 20's. This way I'll be able to download podcasts and radio shows on my dinner hour at work, and have enough to listen to for days. It should be quite a time-saver over the way I've been trying to do it.
It also may give me some brownie points at work (which one can always use). My boss is disappointed that not many people are using the audiobook service. But it's hard for us on the staff to talk it up and give people instructions, if we've never used it ourselves. So in a way, I could classify part of the cost as a work expense.
I'm holding off on the leafblower for now, and will use part of the Ace gc for poison ivy killer, which is a necessity right now.
is worth two in the bush, as they say.
This weekend I was able to take advantage of some quick freebies, a nice change from watching and waiting.
1) Got an unexpected $11 rewards check from Staples, apparently from the purchase of my mother's computer. Used it to replace printer paper that I'd given my mother, and bought 3 boxes of Nonni's chocolate biscotti. 1 box for us to keep, 2 for my mother (part of Mother's Day).
2) Saw an offer where you sign up for weekly emails from Office Depot, and they send you an email with a coupon for a $10 package of CD-R disks. Printed it out right away, and picked up the disks on the way to Pathmark.
3) At Pathmark, bought a ton of Kimberly-Clark products to generate $8 in coupons toward my next order. The stuff was on sale to begin with, and I had coupons. Nice to have the coupons in hand, rather than having to do a Walgreen's rebate and wait for the savings.
4) Found a new printable coupon on Entertainment.com, for a restaurant we've been wanting to try. Had a nice dinner Saturday night, for $6 off.
It's been a really nice 3-day weekend for DH and I.
Friday night, we went to see the Beach Boys in concert. Well, there's only one Beach Boy left touring in the "official" band (Mike Love), but they put on a great show. John Cowsill (yes, of those Cowsills) was even part of the lineup. I never realized what a great voice he had. At the end of the concert, they put "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles on the sound system to start everyone moving out. Virtually everyone was smiling and singing along, as we all left the theater. A wonderful experience.
Saturday was rainy, good for a relaxing day at home. Picked up 3 new books at the library, and new Netflix arrived. I got an emailed voucher for a $50 Mercury Milan test drive, and the new Schwab Visa I applied for arrived in the mail. ($100 gift card after first purchase.) I didn't have to cook dinner as we got take-out bbq chicken dinners from my mother's church.
Today, I found out about the $20 Ford Fusion test drive, which was going on at a mall not too far away. So I took a couple of hours for myself, and had a pleasant little outing. The test drive was painless, and I got to treat myself to $20 worth of stuff from The Coffee Beanery with the gc. Samples of different flavored coffees, chocolate covered coffee beans, and a little caddy for used teabags. None of which I would have actually put money out for, but will enjoy for weeks to come.
It's going to be a long week, as I'm working some extra hours. But I'll be going back fully revived for once.
And I don't mean music. Between the radio, the library, and the CD's, tapes, and even some old records we still own, DH and I have access to plenty of music. I never felt the need to figure out things like Napster or i-Tunes. But we're getting ready to offer downloadable audiobooks at work, and for the past week I've been immersed in learning about how it all works. I'm not an audiobook fan myself, but I do like listening to interviews, news features, old-time radio shows, and such. And there's not much of that on our local radio stations.
I started wondering if there was a way to access some of that "spoken word" stuff through my computer, and whether I could do it for free. The answer is yes--even though I have a dialup connection and no MP3 player!
I thought I'd post what all I've found this weekend. Maybe it will be useful to someone else, or maybe some nice person who's more knowledgeable about this will leave a comment with more tips.
1) I found a nice website for English-language shortwave radio schedules at http://www.primetimeshortwave.com. I've been listening to over-the-air shortwave broadcasts off and on since I was a kid, but I haven't been up on the times and frequencies for different countries in a long, long time. I really didn't want to spend the money on one of the guides that comes out every year--and now I won't have to.
2) I had discovered RealPlayer and streaming audio some time back, but didn't pursue it much. An over-the-air radio show I liked started charging to listen over the internet, and I didn't want to pay. There were some BBC shows I would have liked, but a few years back you could only listen online when the shows were actually on the air over in England. I wasn't about to get up at 4 a.m. to sit by the computer and listen.
But things have changed. Now there are a ton of BBC shows you can listen to any time you want. There are a lot of American NPR shows available, too. Here are some links:
BBC 4 "Listen again" latest edition of each program - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml
NPR archives - http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/rundown_archive_hub.php
It's working fine with my dial-up connection.
3) Podcasting. The single most important thing I learned this weekend is that you don't need an iPod to listen to podcasts! A podcast seems to just be a show in MP3 format that you can download like any other file, and probably listen to with software you already have. My computer came with Music Match Jukebox, which automatically opens up when I try to open a podcast file I've saved. Today I listened to a 60-year-old Burns and Allen program, for free. Which is great, because a lot of places charge to listen to this stuff. (Just try googling "old time radio" and mp3, and you'll see what I mean.) It does take at least as long as the show length to download, but it can happen in the background while I do something else or even leave the computer.
As far as finding the podcasts to download, the easiest thing I've found so far is a program called Replay Radio. They have a free version of their software that works for podcasts only, and it includes a guide to 1700+ different podcasts. You can check their categories or search by keyword to find things of interest. You don't really need the software to get the podcasts or listen to them, but it is really useful just for the guide. Here's a link:
The BBC and NRP also have some shows in podcast format, too.
Someday I'd love to buy fancier software, an MP3 player, upgrade to broadband and maybe even get XM radio. But I'm really thrilled that there's still so much I can get right now without spending any money at all.
Thanks for the encouraging comments, guys, it helps. Some days I just reach my limit, and I guess Friday was that kind of day...
OK, raise or not, insurance problem or not, the 4 weeks ending yesterday did not go badly at all.
Once again, my grocery spending was $287, same as the last time. I'm hoping this means I've gotten into some sort of groove, with knowing how much food we really need and how much I should try to stock up and do rebates.
Overall Everyday Expenses totaled $502. For comparison, here's how it's been going over past 4-week periods:
So, it was the second best since I started keeping track.
Credit card debt went from $4016 to $3829, down $187
Emergency savings went from $166 to $272, up $106
I'm pretty satisfied with that, considering I paid two yearly vet visits in cash, bought quite a few household items, got through Christmas, and had a car repair.
I wanted to track how many "deals" I did. There were 11:
0% cc deal with HSBC
$25 Mazda test drive
Credit Protector rebate
5 regular grocery rebates
Emailed Campbell Soup with a complaint (due to receive coupons, but haven't arrived yet)
Emailed Birds Eye with a compliment (received 5 coupons)
Still reading up a storm, and not exercising much.
DH and I are getting ready to go out for a steak dinner. I have a $10 coupon for my birthday, and we haven't been out alone since well before the holidays. It's still nice getting out with DMom, but it's just not the same as a date.
I've continued to work on money stuff today, as I think of things that need to be done or I want to keep track of. I've been doing a lot of spending, and I may put up quite a few more entries over the next day or two. I don't expect anybody to read them all--It's just helpful sometimes to be able to go back and read my own entries, and refresh my memory.
Christmas is kind of strange for us, as the only relative near is us my mother. DH's brothers and sister are spread out in Florida, Pennsylvania, and pretty far from us in NJ. My mother-in-law is in Pennsylvania, I'm an only child, and we don't have any kids.
I wouldn't say we're feuding with DH's siblings, but the Christmas situation started to get really weird a couple of years ago. It started the year my father-in-law died, and I think the rest of the family must have decided not to do gifts because of being in mourning. Only nobody mentioned it to us, so we sent gifts as usual. Then the next year we figured they wanted to stop, so we didn't send anything, but they did--again, not saying anything to us. DH is the youngest, and this isn't the first time it seems like he's the forgotten child. One time a party was planned, and my s-i-l made a family slide show. There were virtually no pictures of DH at all--like he didn't exist. How hard would it have been for her to call and ask if we had some of the pictures?
Anyway, after all this, I decided I'd just go ahead and start doing what I'd had in mind for awhile. I'm doing donations in honor of the siblings' families, instead of giving them gifts. I make up little slips on the computer and put it in their cards. They also should get a letter direct from the charity. Last year we did Toys For Tots, this year we are doing an organization that's rebuilding libraries in the Hurricane Katrina areas.
Here's the total so far:
Gift cards for DH's co-workers $60
Cards and stamps $26
Special cookies I can't bake $19.95 (shared with Mom)
Gift card for nephew $20 (he's our godson, and nothing is his fault; so he continues to get a gift)
Beach Boys tickets $94 (DH and my gifts to each other this year; concert isn't til spring)
Phone card for mother in law $19.80
I need to find something else small that can be tucked in a card, for my m-i-l. Then there's my mother, on whom I'll probably spend about $25. Or more--I always feel like whatever I do isn't enough, considering all she gives us. Maybe a little on baking supplies. All in all, I don't expect it to be much over $350. Which is more than I usually figure on--but I'm tired of not doing anything special for just DH and me. Too many years we've spent money on obligatory gifts for other people, and didn't have anything to spend on ourselves. No more. At least I got the tickets at a discount, buying them directly from the county instead of Ticketmaster. (The county government is a sponsor.)
Friday night I usually stay home and watch a video while I have laundry running. Not exciting, but it makes the laundry easier to take. However, it was the end of a sale at Penney's, and I had a 10% off coupon and over $60 in discounted gift cards on hand. So I went shopping. I found a pair of slacks for work, and a set of of bath towels on clearance, for a total of about $40. Also did some grocery shopping at Pathmark, and finally earned my free turkey/ham/whatever by spending $300 over the pre-T'giving season.
Saturday the weather was beautiful and DH and I both wanted to get out on some kind of little road trip. (Gas is down to $2.13, so I'm not so reluctant to drive at the moment.) There was a library booksale going on, and the route up is very scenic this time of year if you take 295. The sky was bright blue, and the leaves are about the peak of their fall color now. Trees are planted along both sides of the highway, and as the road turns you see trees in the distance ahead of you, too. So it felt like we were just nestled in and completely surrounded by color.
We got to the booksale just in time for the bag sale. I got about 20 books in a bag for $2. Two were on wish lists at paperbackswap.com, so I knew they'd go right away. I also discovered that two were going for about $14 each on Amazon, so I'll be listing them there. (If even one of them sells, it will have paid for all the mailing expenses I've accrued lately mailing things out for swapping.) Most of the rest I turned in for credit at our local paperback exchange.
With all these books piling up (from the library as well as from swapping), I thought I'd better start reading instead of just finding them, listing them, and mailing them. Read 1-3/4 novels, a Scumble River murder mystery and most of Sullivan's Island, the first in the Low Country Tales series. Sunday evening, after having read most of the afternoon, I realized how much more relaxed I felt making dinner and cleaning up after. I'd forgotten how relaxing reading can be. I've been spending much more of my leisure time online and watching movies, and less with books. I really need to make it part of my daily life again. With access to 2 public libraries and the paperback swapping, cost is certainly no excuse.
Just one girl, me. I had a floating holiday to take, so I had the day off work. Even though it's been raining all day, it was still nice.
First I went and did the PNC offer, which by the way I found over on Fatwallet.com (I should have given credit). It's actually even better than I originally noticed. When you sign up for the rewards program on the debit card, they automatically give you 10,000 points, which qualifies you for a $25 gift card of your choice right off the bat. So it's really a $60 deal instead of a $35 one. Hope all goes through ok--the customer service person wasn't sure how the special web deal worked, and had to call in to find out. But I do already have the $10 Best Buy gift card in my hot little hands, so that's something.
Next I drove over to the town we used to live in 10 years ago, before we bought our house. It was already upscale compared to where we were able to buy, and it's only gone onward and upward since we moved! The crummy old Superfresh is now a fancy Genuardi's supermarket, which was my first stop. I've been seeing some good sale prices there on http://www.cairo.com, and figured I'd get one of their savings cards. I scoped the place out and was able to get a few sale items already. Very nice, especially the 1/4 of the store that was actually a sit-down restaurant.
Also discovered there was a Baja Fresh in the same shopping center, which I'd like to try someday. (With a discounted gift card of course.)
I'm trying to use up last year's Entertainment Book coupons before they run out on November 1. So I used a bakery coupon and got some nice stuff for 50% off. If any of you follow true crime, maybe you remember the case where the NJ rabbi hired someone to kill his wife, and the wife was well-known as a bakery owner? Well, this was one of her bakery locations, and I'd never been there.
Had a coupon for Hallmark also, so I went to look at Christmas cards. It was pleasant to look at everything, but I just couldn't get psyched to spend $3.99 per card, even with a coupon.
Now I'm off to polish my nails, for DH more than myself. Gotta keep him happy; I just usually don't have the time or patience to sit around waiting for them to dry. No dinner to worry about as we're getting pizza. We have beer, movies and books on hand, so I anticipate a nice relaxing evening.
My Stress is definintely Less today.
Yesterday went well, especially considering it was a Monday. It's my longest day out of the house, and the morning is usually spent trying to catch up on the weekend mess. Usually I run out of the house late, having left things undone and feeling behind. This week I actually got to work early, and had lots of stuff ready to take to the post office on my dinner hour. I got a lot done at work, too. So I treated myself to a caramel-flavored coffee for $1.05 on the way back from dinner--positive reinforcement.
What I got into the mail were: 2 rebate offers, 1 prescription reimbursement form, 1 package of awful correction pens (they're supposed to send me a new, better product), and a book that sold on Amazon. All little bits and pieces that will help us keep in the black.
I wonder if anyone else has had this experience--on the prescription reimbursement form, they asked for the prescribing doctor's DEA number. All the other info they wanted was on my receipt, except this. I called my doctor's office and they wouldn't give it to me--they put me on hold a long time, and passed me from person to person. What it came down to was, they said don't give that information out to patients because it could be used fraudulently. They kind of made me feel like a drug-addicted criminal, just for asking! And I'm sure the number is on the prescription forms they hand out every day, anyway. All this hassle just to get $7 back from Blue Cross for blood pressure medicine. What I ended up doing was putting on the form, doctor's office will not provide, please call them at xxx-xxx-xxxx. We'll see what happens.
There were booksales at two libraries this past weekend, but DH and I each had our own reasons for skipping them. DH ran short of cash last week, when he overdid it at the last booksale we went to. I felt very behind after spending so much time on the car repairs last week, and just wanted to stay home and catch up. I'm sure we won't have long to wait for another sale to go to, though. Like they stay about streetcars and men, another one is always just around the corner.
I was supposed to be cutting back on groceries and such this month and next, to catch up on overspending in September. But now it's turkey time at all the supermarkets, where if you spend a certain amount you get the free turkey or ham or a % off your next shopping trip. And, there are a lot of sales going on at Pathmark for things we'll need over the next few months anyway. So I'm continuing to spend, and stocking up. Beyond getting a deal, it just feels good to see a full pantry and know that in the next snowstorm all I'll need to do is walk up to Eckerd's on the corner for milk. One thing I'm trying to do is make one rebate purchase a week at Pathmark. The purchase goes toward the free whatever, but it's not actually money spent because of the rebate.
Am almost caught up on watching all the Monarch of the Glen episodes that are on DVD. They play it on public tv around here, but I'd missed some episodes so I've been borrowing it from the library. There is something very satisfying about watching upper-crusty people, living in a castle, having to learn to cut down and pinch pennies...
DH and I have been shopping at library booksales for years. I thought I'd mention it and pass along a few tips for anyone who hasn't tried it yet.
You just can't beat prices like 25 cents for a paperback or $1 for a hardcover--unless it's buying a whole bag for $1 which sometimes happens during the last hour or so of a sale. Sometimes during the bag sale we just grab a bag of miscellaneous paperbacks in good condition, just so we can turn the books in for credit at our local paperback exchange. If very lucky, there will be one or two items that will sell for a good price on Amazon, sometimes paying for everything else we bought.
At first, I was kind of shy about going to libraries we didn't belong to--but believe me, they don't much care if you are a member or not, when it comes to buying books at their sales. They just want to raise as much money as possible. The only exception is, sometimes they have a special preview sale for Friends of the Library members. But you can usually just join the Friends group on the way in, if you don't mind spending a few extra dollars.
It's a good idea to take along something cold to drink, and leave it in your car for after the sale. We've found that book shopping is thirsty work, for some reason.
If you plan on buying a lot, it can be worth taking your own bags. Sometimes they don't have enough bags on hand, and it's also easier to carry one or two large bags instead of 5 or 6 overloaded plastic grocery bags. Large department store bags with the boxy bottoms are good, also the plastic bags they sell at Aldi's for 10 cents a piece. For awhile I think I was known at certain booksales as "the Aldi bag lady."
Usually they also sell vinyl records, CDs, cassettes and videos, too. Although I haven't seen an 8-track for quite a while. A good source for cheap kids' entertainment, exercise videos and such.
You can call around to local libraries to try and get the dates for upcoming sales, or check the websites for libraries in your area. But it can save some time to use this website: http://www.book-sales-in-america.com/ Just click on your state to get upcoming sale dates. The only problem is, they depend on the libraries or Friends groups to submit information, and they don't always get around to it. Still, it's a help. And the ads for bookstores and book scouting businesses are interesting.
Even though I've stopped counting on reselling books on Amazon, it's still a fun outing and a very cheap way for us to find books for ourselves. DH and I have a couple of days off together this week, and our first little trip will be to the county booksale as soon as it starts tomorrow morning.
Thanks for the comments. I think "frugal fatigue" about sums it up. I decided to take a day off from being responsible, and we finally drove down to the shore--our only trip there this summer.
Gas about $15
Air show at municipal airport, free
Lunch at airport $15
Pizza for dinner $10, at least it was bought with a coupon and we have leftovers for another dinner
Having our dinner in the back yard, free
Watching old movies after dinner, free
Not doing any laundry, cooking, cleaning, or shopping, free
For a total of $49.70. But like the ad says, feeling of complete relaxation, priceless.
Usually we go to a free beach, but this late in the season I could only track down 4 streets in Ocean City where there would still be lifeguards. I figured on biting the bullet and paying for their beach tags--but the Beach Tag Police were nowhere to be seen. The little building where you usually buy the tags was already boarded up for the season, and nobody walking up and down the beach checking for tags, either. A nice surprise.
I've got to start budgeting money for more outings like this...
Usually every year, DH and I go to the anniversary booksale at a store that's over an hour away from us. It's a pleasant trip, although long, because it gets us out in the country and away from all the congestion around here. The store is a combination bookstore and florist, and some years we've been able to visit with goats out in the yard.
However, we've been visiting local bookstores a lot lately, gas is expensive, and I've already spent a little more than I should have at this point in the month. So I'm reluctant to go right now, even though the sale's going on. I'm glad DH seems to be content to stay closer to home this weekend, too. I didn't want it to turn into an argument. We kind of agreed we'd wait til the fall when the weather is more pleasant anyway. I'll be able to save up a little extra money by then, for the gas and maybe lunch out and a book or two.
So the weekend's revised plans are to turn in some paperbacks for credit at the local store and maybe see the Nipper (RCA dog) display in Moorestown. Artists made a bunch of diffferently-decorated Nippers and they've been placed all over town. It's not really close to home for us, but closer than the far bookstore, and it's something completely different! Here's a link to Nipper pix: http://community.webshots.com/album/370880433eualqi