Downloaded songs from Freegal.
Downloaded the Amazon Local app, but then couldn't do Audible.com $10 deal I'd read about because it's only for new customers.
Loaded new Shoprite ecoupons onto my Price Plus card.
Printed out coupons from All You magazine's website, Kimberly-Clark (at pickupthevalues.com), and pillsbury.com.
Printed out a hair salon coupon from the Citi Easy Deals credit card reward program, and also bought a Restaurant.com gift card at 90% off there.
Made a big pot of mashed potatoes to use up some potatoes. Some are in the fridge for tomorrow, some are frozen for later.
Used up some eggs by hard-boiling a couple, and using one in corn muffins, which I froze.
We are using up a slightly-outdated can of La Choy chow mein for tonight's dinner. I always keep one on hand for emergencies, and then forget about it. I only thought of it today because of this recent news story:
Viewing the 'Food Costs and Healthy Eating' Category
Downloaded songs from Freegal.
After several layoff scares over a period of three years, my full-time job at the library finally ended, in July. I was able to stay on part-time, but of course I'm losing my health benefits. DH left an awful job in 2007 and hasn't had a job since then; we've been able to afford his being a househusband until now. Luckily, here in NJ you are eligible for partial unemployment when your hours are reduced, so that's a help. I've gotten one payment so far.
Well, that's all I'll say for now. Anyone who's been looking for a job lately knows how frustrated I'm feeling right now. I think I'll look back in my blog to see how we managed during previous lean times, and then go downstairs to make dinner. We are having cheesesteaks, but home-made ones using Old Neighborhood shaved beef and a loaf of Italian bread. I hope they turn out well, because it should cost about 1/2 the price we used to pay for take-out ones.
Over the past couple of days, I've pulled prices from some grocery receipts and started a new price book using Excel.
Most recently, I was using Splash Shopper on my old Palm PDA, and liked it. I'd refer to the database on the Palm, and use the desktop version to input the prices. But I've switched to an ipod Touch as my PDA, and I wasn't impressed by the reviews I've read for their app. I've tried some other apps, but it's tedious trying to enter much information on the ipod. Plus, I want to be able to choose what information I record.
For example, I want to record both price per pound and per item for some things. When I go to Shoprite they price bell peppers by the pound, and when I go to Walmart they are priced by the piece. At Aldi, right now they're in 3-packs. In Excel, I can add as many columns as I want for different types of unit prices, rather than having to choose just one.
I'll email it to myself when I feel it's done, so it's accessible on the ipod. But I still might print it out and carry it in my purse. I don't like whipping out the ipod inside stores if I don't have to.
Monday was an NSD. I spent some time before my afternoon shift doing some produce prep and planning out food for the week.
Tuesday I spent more than necessary because my organizational skills fell short. I forgot to take my mug in to work, so I bought coffee in order to have the use of a cup throughout the day. I'd planned to pick up salads for dinner but didn't take the time to dig out a coupon before I left home for the day. I also forgot to take my empty iced tea pitcher home to refill; luckily I had another container at home to use this morning.
Wednesday I needed to order a shower gift for a coworker's daughter before all the less expensive items in her wishlist are purchased--otherwise a NSD.
I've been trying to use up some food items before they get so old I'm afraid to eat them. So far: the end of a cucumber, a bit of leftover pasta salad, a jar of cheese that had a use-by date of March, one last Wasa cracker, a Dinty Moore beef stew that had a use-by date earlier in April. Today I'll be making some Jello that's dated February, and using up some cooked corn by adding it to a can of vegetable soup. I'm taking some dry creamer into work to help use up some instant coffee I keep there. It isn't drinkable otherwise and I end up either buying coffee or using my own K-cups which aren't that cheap, either.
Today can't be an NSD because we're paying the property taxes, but there's hope for tomorrow.
All of a sudden, I'm finding myself buying in bulk, in a big way. I'd love to have a year's supply of whatever is practical. Two things spurred me to do this--
1) My mother casually mentioned how her friend buys blueberries in season and freezes a whole year's supply. It reminded me of how I like to buy a big carton of red-skinned sweet potatoes in the fall, and eat them all year. It's nice to know they're there, and that I don't have to run up to the farm market every few weeks. And I don't have to think about them every time I make a shopping list.
2) I had another scare this past week with my mother--nothing serious, but something that's going to take extra time again, taking her to doctors and such. Something is always coming up. I just can't devote that much time to grocery shopping. Many weeks I only have a few hours to myself, and I'll be darned if I'm going to spend them all looking at circulars, sorting coupons and running to sales.
So I'm starting to think big. So far, I've ordered some stuff on Amazon and joined BJ's Warehouse (like Sam's or Costco, but a smaller chain). I'm going ahead and spending like crazy, but at least I'm using my price book. My goals is to get stocked up as much as possible while on a vacation week, and then try to relax and enjoy my spring and summer as much as possible. It's throwing any concept of a weekly grocery budget out the window, but I think it'll be worth it.
I've gotten back into that vicious cycle that Carol Keeffe describes so well in her book*--one month you charge some groceries and toothpaste, the next month when you pay the bill it leaves you short to buy the new month's groceries, and you end up using the credit card again and again each month.
When things were really wild over the past few months, I'd just shop when I could. I didn't always have cash with me, and didn't always know for sure how much was in our checking accounts. I didn't want to overdraw an account, so I used the credit card to be safe. If I was using the credit card, I couldn't go to Aldi, and I didn't have time to shop the sales and use coupons, either. I didn't always take time to record what I spent. Often I had to charge things that were really for my mother, which confused things even more. (She doesn't have a credit card of her own.)
Result--a balance I've been paying off each month, but sometimes painfully so.
This weekend I "borrowed" $140 from our bills account to cover a big food shopping trip. I've got a lot of catching up to do, as we've used up a lot of stockpile items, and a lot had to be throw away because it got spoiled or was way out of date. I'll probably have to "borrow" some more next week. So far this month I've already spent $284 on groceries and we're only half through.
But at least I can pay myself back at my leisure with no interest adding up. And it's enabling me to take advantage of some really good sales and coupons, like a series of $5 off $40 coupons at one of our stores.
* "How to get what you want in life with the money you already have"
I hardly know where to begin. A few weeks ago, I was actually in tears because of money worries and now I'm trying to figure out how to divvy up a 45% increase in our cash flow. I just found out that my boss really went to bat for me, and got approval for me to go full-time with benefits! Not only is it more hours and free insurance, but also an increase in my hourly rate. Things sure can change fast, down or up.
I've been very worried about how we'd cope when DH's Cobra coverage ran out. That's a big part of the reason I went ahead and sold the rest of the ETFs I had in my IRA. I didn't want to raid the IRA to pay for health insurance, but I wanted to have the option if it came to that. If the stock market kept tanking, I couldn't be sure of how much I'd have available.
I've been trying really hard, running around to to buy things on sale, using coupons and rebates again, and had our freezer pretty well filled up.
One night DH got out some pizza and left the door open about an inch. In the morning, I heard it running like mad and discovered it. That's when I finally broke down and cried, fearing that all the food was ruined and money wasted. (We've been using the food up as fast as we can, with no ill effects so far.)
DH started looking for work, and finally signed up with a rather cheesy temp agency out of desperation. You can read about them here, and either be forewarned or just see how the bottom half lives:
I even went so far as to tell my mother I couldn't chip in the tip anymore when she took us out for a meal. It was really embarrassing, but felt I had to do it.
She likes to get out to restaurants, but is housebound now and needs one of us to drive her. She pays for the meal, and we've been paying the tips. But what with gas prices, I didn't feel I could keep shelling out more money on tips than we could have made the whole meal for at home.
Now, amazingly, the tide seems to have turned. Instead of feeling stunned and unsure because of all the bad economic news, I'm now feeling stunned and unsure about how to handle this good fortune.
I really, really, don't want to blow it.
No, not McDonald's stock--coupons.
DMom and I sometimes go to McD's for coffee because it's cheaper than some places and we like it just as well. Yesterday there was a sign on the door about Halloween coupons books, so I asked about them.
For $1, you get a coupon folder with 12 coupons for free items. In other words, for $1 you get coupons for about $10 worth of food. Can't beat that with a stick.
I suppose they're meant for kids--they have Ronald McDonald on them, and they're for small items--hamburgers, cones, juice, milk, and apple dippers. They expire 12/31.
I bought two. They are just the kind of things DMom and I might want to snack on with our coffee. Or that would hold off the hunger pangs if I'm out on errands a long time.
Somehow this lifts my spirits more than hearing that the Fed has lowered interest rates.
I hardly ever have these. I've been spending way too much on coffee at work, even at 50 cents a cup. Yesterday I drank water instead.
Life has calmed down a little, so I'm trying to get back to some little frugalities. I made macaroni salad over the weekend, and am using it up even though it's rather bland. Making a pitcher of iced tea in the mornings to keep from going into my diet soda stash. Having toast instead of bagels or English muffins, because the price per serving is about half. Using up home-made soup I have in the freezer instead of opening a can.
I'm planning my driving trips more carefully--I actually made it through the past week on $25 worth of gas. This morning I'm in the mood to go to Aldi's before work, but I'll wait til tonight. I can combine the trip with getting my hair cut. Tomorrow I'll hit Petsmart on the way home from work, rather than making a separate trip. It's kind of aggravating when you want to go NOW, but I'm sure I can get used to it.
I've also changed some computer settings so my pc goes on standby sooner when it's idle, and turns itself off earlier at night. May save a little electricity, I hope.
Nothing more exciting going on right now--which is a GOOD thing.
A blogger named Homeschool Dad came across a printed price list in his local Aldi, and posted it online!
I've been trying to keep a price book of Aldi prices, based on my receipts. At one point I even put it up online hoping it would be useful for other people to use as a comparison for sale prices at other stores. But I never managed to put together such a comprehensive list as this one.
Here's the link location as of today (it will open an Adobe Reader .pdf file)
Homeschool Dad had to take the file off his own website because he got too many hits. Go, Aldi fans!
Homeschool Dad's blog--
I've never seen a printed price list at my Aldi, and I've never noticed some of the products on his list. OTOH, the special seasonal stuff isn't listed, just the stuff they have all the time. The price list also says every product in their store has a price tag on it--not the case here in NJ.
Happy comparison shopping.
I'm trying to rethink our food budget again, in light of the freezer's arrival and our upcoming lower income. So I went online to find the latest USDA Food Plan as a guide.
It got me thinking--they keep saying inflation is well under control, but I'm definitely noticing higher prices on certain foods. I haven't been keeping good spending records lately, so am I just imagining it?
The CPI figures that just came out say food is up 4.2% on an annual basis (August to August).
I compared the USDA food plans for last June and this June (June is supposed to represent an average figure for the year.) Their food budgets have gone up 5.9% in a year.
And here's an article that says:
"According to figures from the United States Department of Agriculture, the price of foods containing high amounts of protein have increased the most. The cost of beef has increased by 6.4 percent. Poultry is up 7.8 percent.
"But both are trumped by milk, which costs 9.5 percent more than it did at the beginning of the year.
"For the year, the USDA is forecasting a food inflation rate of 4 to 4.5 percent, with the highest increases being seen in dairy and eggs. Historically, retail food prices inflate at a rate of 2.5 percent. “Very rarely do we get above 3.5 percent,” said Leibtag. But even if prices fall some this autumn, it appears this year's inflation rate will be the highest since 1990."
It really makes you wonder what to think.