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Archive for October, 2012

CVS math

October 31st, 2012 at 06:31 pm

It's been a while since I've "done the deals" couponing, but my stash of shampoo etc was getting low and I noticed a bunch of BOGO coupons about to expire for brands I stock up on.

So off the CVS today.

I bought
8 herbal Essence shamp/cond. @ $2.99/ea
Used 4 BOGO free coupons that expired today =
2 Aussie shampoo @2.99/each
Used $1/on 2 coupon = 2.49 each
2 Dawn dish detergents @99 cents
used 2 50c off = 50 cent each
2 suave lotions @ 2.50/each
used 2 2.00 off coupons = 50 cent each

Not bad, but then I got into the car and looked at the receipt. I paid about $1.92 out of pocket and another $2.50 or so in sales tax?????? They didn't charge me enough! They deducted $6.99 4 times from my total for the BOGO shampoo, when I was expecting $2.99 4 times.

Plus, I got a $10 ecb after all was done.
So now, I'm confused! Computer error? Do I go back to the store and pay what I owe??

Best week, but spendy, now storms!

October 29th, 2012 at 06:01 pm

We just had the best week. Awesome and fun. But expensive! Our best friends from New Orleans drove up to visit us, and brought their DS, who is the same as my DS1. The kids had a blast together. They got along great, which was a relief!

We had a great visit too. We took the kids to the zoo, to a Lego exhibit at the science museum, the Lego store, trick or treating, and to a pumpkin patch. Then, at night, we'd put them to bed and retreat to the basement bar and lounge area I've been working so hard on lately for drinks and conversations. It was great!

unfortunately, we spent a lot on groceries and gas, but well worth the money.


Today has been the day of back to reality. The FIL managed somehow to crack the base of our main bath toilet while he was here, so we had that replaced today. ( I don't want to know.) Normally, I replace toilets myself, but with two little kids it'd be weeks before I'd get to it, so we decided to pay the plumber to come. Labor cost about $200, plus the $200 for the new toilet (we supplied that).

We needed a new flange, which I never would have known, and if it weren't replaced we could have gotten a leak which would have cost us much more, so it seems like saving money preventing water damage is worth it.

Oh well. we're in home improvement mode still, and are planning to head to Menard's later today. They have the fireplace doors we need for the basement, and are offering the 11 percent back. They are the same model sold at lowe's, for $68 less, in stock vs special order and I'll get about $20 back in rebates, so it seems like now is the time! Then, we can have them installed and have a fire for our once every four years presidential election party. That will be nice!

*** Things have been a whirlwind. Once Oct. 1 hits, it's non-stop action and activity until New Years. it never fails, Every year. Trick or treat and a big Halloween party at our friends' house is Wednesday, then it's nothing but parties. I'm almost getting party fatigue!

*** Oh, and add in that hurricane thing. I'm in Ohio and we're supposed to get 50 to 60 mph winds starting now. I'm prepped for a power outage. We've lost power at the house twice this summer, once after a 50 mph storm blew through and once on a normal sunny day. We live in a 1950s subdivision with outdated infrastructure, so I'm not optimistic.

We lost a lot of food those last two times, so I have a food plan to minimize losses. I already tossed a few bags of ice into the chest freezer downstairs, and planned meals based on clearing out the freezer and fridge. We have peanut butter, bread, crackers, and other shelf stable items as well. I held off on stocking up on milk today.

All the batteries and laptops/phones are charged, so now it's just waiting. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I normally don't think about Christmas this early (apart from casual second hand and estate sale shopping all summer) but I bought three Christmas gifts on amazon using amazon card points yesterday. Three nice gifts for essentially free! Gotta love points.

Funny DH cheapache!

October 18th, 2012 at 09:42 pm

This is a funny one. My hubby sometimes turns notoriously cheap, hence I had to make up a new word for him as in, he's giving me a "cheapache."

Usually he only gives me one when we're spending on something unfun or for the house.

Yesterday, a friend called from the junkyard asking if we wanted the bumper off of a Honda there. Our Honda is a 1997 hatchback. We were rear-ended by an uninsured driver after a ski trip maybe 6 years ago, and hubby didn't want to pay to repair the damage to the rear bumper. It looks like a shark took the bite out of one side. I agreed, because I just found out I was pregnant AND with 200k miles on it, I thought the car would die any second.

So yeah... I said yes on the new (used) bumper, at $43. My hubby protested, saying "can't we get one cheaper? We should skip it and just save the money."

Um yeah, a cheaper bumper than $43?? I'll let you guys chuckle quietly at that one. The car, still alive and well, now has 225k miles on it and clearly is not dying any time soon.

I said yes to the bumper, rolling my eyes. Later, Hubby said he refused to *pay* to put it on, so with the help of the Haynes repair manual from the library, I SHOULD DO IT. Like how he decides to be cheap and that means I have to figure out how to replace a car bumper while he stands over me scratching his head!?!?! I thought that was funny.

(as a sidenote, Hubby is not handy. I have fixed every house issue and hung every shelf in our 11 years together. the irony? He says we live in a specialist economy, and he is a specialist, so he is supposed to earn enough to 'pay' another specialist to take care of everything else. Um yeah. No one is paying me to be the handywife!! Funny, I know).

Anyway, I said sure, I'll try. I got an auto repair manual out of the library. It looks easy, which means it won't be, but it should be an adventure. Wish me luck!!

In other news,
I also saw this article and thought it was insightful:

Text is and Link is

Getting inspired, family vision, real food.

October 16th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I'm starting to get inspired. Hubby and I took a walk last week where we talked about our vision for our family and what we hoped our life with children and for our children would be like. (A big change. Since we've had them, we've only fantasized about them moving out for college. lol!)

A big part of it for me was our kitchen garden out back, family vacations, and cooking super healthy meals at home. We have been stuck in a rut of eating out and eating not super great foods lately. I've been busier with work, and I do all the cooking (unfortunately). Anyway, part of my vision for home-cooked meals is switching more to fresh in-season produce and homemade or locally made whole grain breads. I've been reading the 100 Days of Real Food blog and that pretty much sums up my long term goal.

I got a bunch of awesome cookbooks, urban farming (I do this anyway, on a smaller scale), and bread baking books from the library today and am anxious to dive in.

I've been writing down some long and short-term goals as well, inspired by my most recent reading of Scott and Helen Nearing's The Good Life. I've broken them down into groups, and noticed there are a few things I can start to do now, changing habits and adding and subtracting things one at a time, working my way up to the big goals.

For instance, now I can start cooking at home more, begin substituting healthier (100 days style) products and foods for what we eat now; do a once a week menu plan, be more vigilant about coupons, and cancel the cable TV. Oh, and go to bed at least 30 minutes earlier.

I've also renewed my efforts to buy all of our meats from the local, free range, organic farm. I used to hesitate because it seemed expensive, but after a trip to the store, I realized the meats are so much nicer than grocery store meats, taste better, and in some cases cost the same per pound!! That was enough to motivate me.

Since it's fall, I'm also creating new garden beds for fruit and vegetables. Normally, I'd wait until spring, but then I lose an entire growing season as my compost and such decomposes and releases nutrients. Doing the work in fall means the beds will be ready to plant in spring-- no time wasted! DS1 who is 4 and enthusiastic, helped me create some new beds and pour all of our compost on them. He was very excited. He said he likes being a farmer.

Once we/I get into the groove of the above, my next round of goals is to try to make my own laundry detergent, try baking my own bread (if I fail, I'll find a good baker). I'd also like to get us all on a more regular schedule for preschool worksheets and cleaning up the house.

Longer term goals (and my really big goal) are to produce many of the things we would normally buy. Laundry detergent and food mostly. I love growing fruits and vegetables, and my hope is to eventually make my own pasta, can my own fruit juices (I'm taking a class on this), and make my own ice cream. It sounds silly, but producing gives me a deep satisfaction, unlike anything else. And in this scary world of machine farming, it seems more pressing now that I have two tiny kids with growing bodies and brains.

I'd also like to convince hubby to spring for the wood stove insert, so we can use that to partially heat the house and as back-up heat in our inevitable power outages. I've marked a section of "The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy" for him to read. It's all about wood stoves and inserts, their efficiency, etc. There's plenty of free wood around, so this could save us money!!

In financial news, we added another $200 to DS2s college fund, and that's about it!

Organized the pantry, and loving the snowflake

October 15th, 2012 at 04:23 pm

We had an unfortunate outbreak of pantry moths. So frustrating. They hitch-hiked in in a box of high-fiber cereal (I'm looking at you, General Mills), and have been a nightmare ever since, despite the SaferT traps, which have caught many but not all. So, in a final bid to thwart them (without spraying the kids and house with toxic chemicals) I reorganized the pantry. Everything possible is now in glass mason jars or plastic air-tight tubs. I like it a lot! Tah-dah!

In other news, the mortgage payment hit today, and it knocked $1231 off the balance! That feels really good. Now if I can just keep it up!

Yep, Ditching cable tv

October 13th, 2012 at 02:08 pm

We tried cable tv for the first time when we had our second son (turning 3). We thought we'd be home more. We are, but it still isn't worth the money. Even though we still are in the same 'deal' the cable company manages to charge us closer to $60 a month for cable tv, rather than the 35 it was supposed to cost us. Most of that is in an ever-changing array of fees and charging for services that used to be free, such as the cable box, dvr and a separate charge for HD dvr. I'm over it. So is DH. I tried to call yesterday to cancel it, but they had an outage somewhere and were overwhelmed with calls. So, Monday it is!

payday mortgage snowflake, plus office is finished!

October 12th, 2012 at 05:05 pm

I sure love payday!

DH was paid today. He also got a surprise check for $55 for 20 minutes of IT work he did for a company last month. That is being snowflaked for the mortgage. Our mortgage payment is $1670. I usually pay $2000, but today we paid $2100. (I rounded up the $55 snowflake. I think we can spare the $45). I want it gone. Wish I had more to send to it. Oh well.

The bills are paid and I still have a little cushion in the checking account. That hasn't been the case lately, so it feels good.

I will be getting extra money to the tune of about $900 soon, for unexpected freelance assignments this month. That will probably all go to my IRA, which has been woefully underfunded so far this year.

In other news, my basement office is finally finished! We started in May, and I just finished the baseboards and put in the furniture last week. Finally done. We added insulation, drywall, framed out a very large wall of storage plus a storage area that can one day be converted to a half bath should we decide we need it. The total cost, most of it going to pay someone to do the framing and drywall, plus materials (drywall & doors add up!), was $3455. It looks great. It is such a dramatic change.

Starting to think ahead.

October 12th, 2012 at 01:06 am

I'm reading "The Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing, a couple who were completely self-sufficient homesteaders in New England for most of the 20th century.

Love the book, but now it has me thinking. When they plan work on the house, in their lives, and 'investments' to improve their lives, they make a 10 year plan, so as to make the most of all their efforts, and not do anything redundant. It's got my wheels turning the Dh and I should maybe put some thought into longer term plans.

Sure, we do long term planning as far as college and retirement planning, and more immediate things such as house projects, etc. but we have given little thought to what we want our family life to be, and what we want to accomplish or do between now and when the kids grow up and move out *they're 2 and 4*.

I'm thinking we need to at least have a vision and a plan for the near to intermediate term, or else we'll be so stuck in the muckety-muck of every day life that we only get through the day each day and never do anything spectacular.

My wheels are turning, so to speak. I am generating a list- a vision- of what I'd like our family life to be, and maybe seeing what we can start on now, or put in place, to make that happen, and to make everything fall into place.

Right now, with two careers and two little incredibly active kids, we really are just getting through the day each day, praying for bed time and then falling exhausted into bed every night. It needs to be done now, but I don't want to get stuck in any bad habits that become impossible to break when the kids are both finally in (free) elementary school all day.

So far, I'm thinking I'd like us to cook and eat at home the vast vast majority of the time. Right now, we do more drive thrus and meals out than I'd like, just because I'm too tired to plan or cook. I'd also like to make more from scratch, like pasta, bread, juice and ice cream.

And, of course, I love to grow food. I'd like to maximize production and preserving on the one small patch of our half-acre lot where DH lets me garden. I'm planning to start some new garden beds this month, so the compost and newspaper have time to decompose and be ready in spring for planting. Speeding up my plan, so as not to waste another season.

As for the house, our big plans are installing a wood stove insert (to burn all the free wood we've picked up, and to act as back up heat in our inevitable yearly power outages). and installing a new patio (hopefully made from reclaimed or recycled materials, in part) as well as installing a pergola, where we can also grow concord grapes for use in juice and jam.

Oh, this is getting dangerous!

It's been a busy few months...

October 8th, 2012 at 04:04 pm

I just realized I haven't posted much lately. Things have been crazy.

We have the two boys settled into their MWF preschool routine. They love school, which really helps. I did however *think* having them both in preschool close to home, compared to driving 60 miles RT to the old sitter who is also my best friend, would really revolutionize my life. In certain ways it has. I used to have to work, at night, after the kids went to bed to make my deadlines. Let me tell you I did not feel like writing articles for newspapers and magazines after all day chasing a 2 and 4 year old. Now, I can write while they are in school, and I sometimes have a couple hours to go to yard sales ALONE. Yeah!

The bad thing is they are done by 1, and I still have to fill a very long 6 hours before hubby gets home,w e eat dinner, and start bedtime. They're active kids, so it's been rough. We got into a fall routine of going to the park with school friends after school (love their moms. They're desperate to fill the days too!), but now it's getting cold so we'll need a new strategy!

In other news, part of the reason I've been so busy is I've been doing a lot of work for a newswire service. I live in Ohio (election swing state) and there have been a lot of election-related voting rules lawsuits that national news people are suddenly interested in, so I've been covering those hearings. I think I've made about $900 I hadn't planned on for that work, and we still have a few more weeks before the election. That is nice.

I have turned down some other projects, just because of burn out or because the kids hadn't started school yet and the kids were out of town. I feel bad, because I love it when the check comes, but sometimes, it's just too much!

Financially, things have been a little strained. Pre-school comes with a big $783 monthly bill. It's a little more than what we were paying for school/sitter, but I paid the sitter weekly so it was easier to budget. I've had to dip into savings to cover bills this month, something I try to avoid. We did buy the sofa bed for the in-laws (long story), and a lounge chair for hubby when he works at home, so that was part of it.

Hopefully I can get us back on track. I'm not worried much about Christmas. I have most of the kids' gifts from craigslist and yard sales, and we make food gifts for our friends. I just have to finish up hubby, mom, and the in-laws, plus teachers, etc. geesh. Now that I say that, it sounds like a lot!

Still, it feels nice to have a paid off car, and we are chipping away at the mortgage balance ($10,000 of principal so far this year!) . I'm thinking the $900 extra freelance will go to my IRA and more to the mortgage.

Oh, and speaking of, I bought some paint at Home Depot. it had a rebate. They sent me a stupid prepaid credit card as the rebate. This is the second time this has happened. I prefer the check, because then I can snowflake it to the mortgage. I'm really hating the debit card rebate!!!! Hubby did also get a freelance check for $55 that I plan to put toward the mortgage as well, so you know, little joys in life!!