Apr 5, 2008

Stretching my dollar

I've recovered from the very strange little flu bug I had for 48 hours or so. Nauseous, tired, achey, fuzzy-headedness (is that a word?) and chills were the symptoms -- sleep and Pepto were the cure.
As I've posted about before, I've been focusing on getting my grocery bill down while prices continue to go up. I've done fairly well -- dropped from $130 to $140 a week to about $80 to $100 a week, mostly by taking advantage of sales and using coupons, and continuing with my weekly menu planning. I know I could feed the two and a quarter of us for less (the "quarter" is Brayden Lee on babysitting days), but at some point you have to have a food standard, I think. I'm not willing to serve beans and rice over and over again. We like to have a healthy meal that includes meats, vegetables and alternating starches. But I would like to get my bill down to $65 to $75 a week -- I'd be very happy!
I've been making use of blogs on frugal living and coupons, such as Centsible Shopper and Money Saving Mom. Those two websites alone can save you an amazing amount of money. They combine readily available (and often printable) grocery coupons with current grocery or drugstore sales, and can often tell you how to get products for free (after coupons and rebates). I took advantage of some Walgreen rebates this week and did get $13.00+ of items that I buy on a regular basis for free. Today, Money Saving Mom has a link to a free sample of True Lemon powdered drink mix (0 calories, 0 carbs), which I thought was bringing to your attention. Not only do you get a free sample, but when you order your free sample, they donate 10 samples to troops overseas! Talk about a win-win offer! You can get your free sample here. I have some other freebie things that I love, and thought I'd share. First, is the Kraft Food and Family magazine. I have tried so many recipes out of this free magazine, and look forward to it every month. I am a good cook, but I'm definitely not a gourmet cook. Show me a recipe with more than 7 or 8 ingredients, and I'll make reservations for us at our favorite restaurant. I like simple foods (it's the New Englander in me) with not a lot of ingredients. This magazine covers everything from salads to desserts, cooking for parties to cooking for kids. It's actually a beautiful, professionally done magazine that you don't expect of a freebie. You can sign up for your copy here (sign up for the web site itself, then once you're signed up, you can request the magazine). Another free magazine I enjoy is Lowe's Creative Living magazine. I think it's published six times a year, but it's jam-packed with good ideas on creating storage solutions, decorating ideas, and heck, it's just plain fun to look at and dream. You can sign up here. While you're signing up, you may want to subscribe to their Garden Club magazine as well. I will never, ever shop for anything online without first doing a Google search for the particular web site, plus the word "code". Last week I received email from Direct Gardening and they were having a good sale on a new species of Willow trees that I was interested in. We've been talking about using trees as a natural fencing for two years now, and this tree (and sale) was just what I was waiting for. The trees were already a good deal, but I did my google search thing and came up with a code on Retail Me Not that gave me freebies at checkout, and, combined with an offer they already had going, I'll receive my 20 trees PLUS 40 additional plants, including a red maple tree! So if you go to buy something online, and at checkout you see a box that says "coupon code" or "promotion code" or some such thing, do a google search for that web site's name, plus "code" and you may be very pleasantly surprised. Gas prices got you down? Gas here in the greater Cincinnati area fluxuate by as much as .30 a gallon in a 24 hour period. I just never know when to buy gas anymore -- until I found this web site: GasBuddy.com Before I head out to run errands, I check this web site and find where gas is the cheapest in my area and plan my errands around it! I usually save between .10 and .20 a gallon by doing this. Lastly (wow - this is a long post), I have two "Helpful Hints" for you regarding buying items online. In most instances, you'll use a credit card for online buying (I prefer to use PayPal but not all websites accept it). I have one credit card now that I use strictly for online shopping. No other charges go on this card and it allows me to easily view transactions online so I can feel safe that my card number hasn't been stolen. (As a side note, I use the Bank of America credit card because they notify me INSTANTLY when a charge is made to my card. If it's over an amount I pre-set, they actually call me to verify the charge! Under that amount, they email me and let me know a charge was made via the Internet or telephone. GREAT feature!) I use my regular bank's debit card for all "live" transactions. (And just so my son the financial wizard will stop having heart palpitations -- my credit card is paid off each month!) Also, set up your email to help you keep track of online orders. I have two folders in my Outlook Program -- one labelled "Internet Orders" and a sub-folder of that named "Received". When I place an order, the email verification that I receive goes into the "Internet Orders" folder. When the item is received, I drag and drop it into the "Received" folder. This allows me to make sure I've received everything I've ordered, plus it gives me a record-copy of invoices in case I need to return something.

1 comment:

fvclassic said...

good ones.. thanx.. from another frugal hacker in montana :)

gp