Monday, November 28, 2016

Frugal Hits And Misses: November Report

It's been a few months now since I pledged to let you know when we did well on the Frugal Scale -- and when we didn't. Life and stuff happens...but this month, other than medical issues, it didn't go too badly. 

     For one thing, I kept my promise to myself to see the books and videos we'd collected for so many years go to others, instead. For some interesting reason, we did better on food costs this month, as well. (Was it the scavenging?)

*Listed more than 30 items (books and videos) on Amazon -- and sold 10. Eight books and 2 videos. I only chose the ones that would sell for enough to make a profit...with one glaring exception. (See below.) Nearly all sold at much more than I originally paid for them -- especially the videos.

*Waited until just before Thanksgiving to buy turkey and some other goodies. Another blogger said she'd noticed prices dropped faster just a few days before -- and she was right. Saved about $20 on just the turkey.

*Grabbed some screaming deals on canned soup. For example: Progresso at about 65 cents a can, combining sale price with coupons. Campbell's Cream of Mushroom: 50 cents. (Green bean casserole influence, no doubt.) Chunky Soup clocked in at about 75 cents each. Do manufacturers think, with the weather getting cold, that we're not going to eat soup??

*Bought things we needed, anyways, combining coupons with sales. Chicken feed at 10% off. Dogfood was even better: 15% off. We also stocked up on essentials at Sam's Club. (See below)

*Ordered castile soap on sale from Grove Collective -- and got a Mrs. Meyers cleaning set with it, plus free shipping. These were full-sized bottles of hand soap, multi-surface cleaner and dish soap. If you haven't used Mrs. Meyer products yet, you're missing out: they're gentle on the hands, clean effectively and smell wonderful. The negative: they're very expensive. But not when they come free!
     Why did I order castile soap? Because it's the foundation for any number of budget-friendly cleaning products. I'm looking forward to mixing some of these up, using some of my oils.

*Watched a BUNCH of tv and cable series we enjoy following: The Last Ship, Designated Survivor (this one is new -- and surprisingly good, especially if you liked 24), The Walking Dead, Alone (a 'real' survivalist contest) and Turn: Washington's Spies. The Brick found a number of sites (including that streamed these for free. Not only did we catch up with our favorites -- we watched them with no commercials. Win-win.

*We also saw several football games for free.  More about those here. (I still don't want to talk about Michigan and the Broncos losing.)

*'Scavenged' food several times for free...mostly because I was paying attention. Working on Election Day for the county meant free supper, which was nice. After everyone had gone home, a few of the box lunches remained. I snagged one...even nicer.
      I was appraising at our local thrift shop today, and the same thing happened: a table filled with different kinds of food, and nearly all the other volunteers gone. "Take what you want," said my boss cheerfully. So I did: three boxed salads, two pies (pumpkin and pecan), some rolls and a bunch of cake 'lollipops.'  (The latter looked and tasted suspiciously like Starbucks items.) Lesson learned:  when you volunteer for groups like these, you not only get a discount (which is nice), but you may luck into more things, as well. Our thrift shop often sets out boxes of bread and rolls for customers to enjoy.

*Free pumpkins and squash, thanks to a thoughtful neighbor. (The chickens enjoyed these, though we got some, too.) She got a dozen eggs, in return. A free box of tomatoes from other neighbors added to soup, stew, sandwiches and used to top a pizza.

*'Found' -- or got on sale -- a number of Christmas presents. The nice thing about cleaning out your shelves and drawers: you find items that you hid earlier, sometimes months ago. Normally that makes me feel like a doofus; having these available for Christmas now does not.
      I also set aside several books from the sale/giveaway pile for giving, and found the Brick (and the girlies) several things at the thrift shop. Now to get these wrapped.

*Got Swagbucks for purchases we'd planned to make, anyways. I've brought Swagbucks up before -- it's one of the easiest ways to earn bonus points while just doing searches and shopping you normally do, anyways. Click here for more info.
     Buy The Mama a gift card for her favorite restaurant? Check.
     Stock up on basics like dishwasher soap and dog bones at Sam's Club? Got it. (Yes, they were on sale, too, with free pickup.)

Earn the Brick a $25 Amazon gift card, by doing all this? No problem.
    It really is that easy.

*I volunteered for a tasting panel. Ninety minutes work, stuffed to the gills with food = $50 gift card!

*Took advantage of Veterans' Day specials. We ate meals at Applebee's, Golden Corral and Red Robin that all included free meals or discounts. ("That's what you get for serving six years in the Navy," I told the Brick. He grinned.)

*A free bagel or coffee discount every time I visited in November.  (Thanks, Panera.)

*Donated bags, bags and more bags of stuff. Mostly books and clothes. It felt wonderful.

*Snagged several items for prizes, rewards and Christmas presents for my piano students. Rocher chocolates: 33 cents for a three-pack. (The Friday/Saturday store.) Stuffed animals for a buck or two each. (Thrift shop.)  90% off makeup kits. (Halloween clearance.)

*Kept the heat turned down -- actually turned off for part of the month. We don't mind wearing socks and sweaters. We're not the only ones, either. And if  it gets too chilly, it's easy to build a fire in the woodstove, or turn on the electric fireplace. (Cheaper, too.)

*Found a B&B package through Groupon for our anniversary...a beautiful log cabin-style lodge up in the mountains. $75 a night -- an incredible price around here, especially during the start of ski season. Interestingly, it's not far from Colorado's areas for:

*Cutting Christmas trees -- we'll get our own this year! $10 each. (We'll get one each for Daughter #1 and her friend, while we're at it.)

*Worked for the election. An incredibly boring job, but the extra paycheck was very welcome.  The Brick also continued to drive bus now and then for a local school district.

*Picked up more little jobs here and there. $50 for restoration work on a duvet, and $20 for restitching some holes and loose seams on an old quilt. Walked a dog now and then. (Brody again. What a cutie.)

*Shoveled out the chicken coop -- not that they appreciated it, the little dinosaurs. But our neighbor got a load of 'dressing,' and my garden greens bed did the same. (The greens are still alive. I don't know how.)

*The chickens are still paying for themselves...sort of. They've been laying fewer eggs, in spite of more protein, more light (inside the coop) and a heatlamp. We barely had enough for our regular customers. But at least we had enough.

*Gave away Daughter #1's canopy bed to one of our little friends. More space for us. Daughter gets our old bed, instead, which she wanted...and Trynity has a bed for her newly-furnished room.

*Packed two boxes for Operation Christmas Child. There's still time to help out with this wonderful cause -- go here for specifics.

*Turned in several boxes of change -- for our Christmas Angel doings.  Every year, we use the change gathered to buy secret presents for people who need it. (I would then use what was leftover to buy the family a pizza.) This year will be gift cards we'll give away anonymously.

Most of these savings are small. But if you keep track of items like this, they do add up to the savings of a frugal lifetime


These were unavoidable... except one. 

*I lost money on one of the Amazon sales -- big-time. The shipping amount allowed for one of the books, a trade paperback, was handsome: $16.95. But shipping alone for this book (to Israel) was $22.50!  I'd never shipped an order to the Promised Land, and had no idea. But basically I paid the customer for the privilege of buying my book. (Brickworks has international customers, but we've always adjusted our shipping costs to compensate.)
     I complained to Amazon, and was told to change my price next time. In other words, 'Stuff you.' Lesson learned:  no shipping to Israel -- and I'll take more care to only send lightweight items overseas, so shipping IS covered.

*The Brick's session with kidney stones meant a doctor's visit and pain meds. Fortunately, we didn't have to go to the emergency room this time. What it did mean, though, was a very subdued week. We missed church and the annual Thanksgiving supper at the fairgrounds, but it couldn't be helped.

*The Brick also had to have two crowns replaced. $1900 at the dentist's office...paid back at $265/month.  Just in time, I guess -- the bill for my crown was paid off this month.

Curious about the other months of hits and misses?

October's report is here.

September's report is here.

August's report is here.

    December promises to be a quiet month. Other than our anniversary trip, we have no plans to go anywhere special, except a free concert or two. The Mama will be visiting for the last two weeks of the month. And of course, there are the Seven Fish Dishes.

I'm not complaining.

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