Saturday, October 28, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses: October Report

We did better, frugality-wise, in October than we have for months. We had to -- the bank account has been scraping bottom, thanks to bathroom renovations, phone issues and unexpected vehicle repairs last month. Work for the Brick has been scarce this month, because of hunting. I've had several appraising jobs, thankfully, which helped keep us on a fairly even keel. But there was little room to maneuver.
     We also made extra payments to the credit card to clear it off completely -- difficult for now, but it should be a huge help for November, since we're paying most of November's bills early. My teaching/appraising jobs evaporate as the holidays approach, so it will be a blessing in the long run. 
     Note what I'm saying -- we didn't make a lot of money this month, but we did save more than usual, to pay for higher-than-usual bills. Every bit helps.

*The bathrooms are 99.9% DONE. A few touchup jobs, and Son #1 needs to pick up his tools. (He was out hunting, too, so work had to wait. He got a nice fat cow elk.) Then we can clean off the deck, and start tidying up around there!

*DiGiorno pizza: 99 cents!  King Soopers had a screaming sale at $2.99 -- and I had two $2.00 coupons.
      I did almost as well with Red Baron pizza on a later trip. Had to buy 4, to get the $2.99/each deal -- but I had a $1.25 electronic coupon, plus a $4-off-pizza electronic coupon, to apply. Total: $1.68 each. I got another coupon printed during checkout, to use for a future trip. All right with me!

*Tai Pei shrimp fried rice entrees at Safeway: 50% off, and I had coupons for another 75 cents off, which was pushed up to $1.00. Results: 2 for $1.98. Not bad.
     Got some canned veggies at Safeway, as well -- 4 for a buck, thanks to an electronic coupon.
     These sale/coupon combinations are hard to pull off. But when they work: bliss.
*Don't forget about the Friday freebies, either. King Soopers/Kroger is more reliable about this, but Safeway will occasionally have one, too. These free product coupons can only be downloaded on Friday, but are usually good for at least two weeks. I've gotten several items for snacks, plus use in Christmas stockings.

*Good prices on potatoes. The best, so far: 10 cents a pound. Baked potatoes on a fall night are wonderful, and help keep the house heated. (During a winter the furnace was broken, this lady used her stove a great deal to keep her family warm.)

*Watched football and tv series for free: University of Colorado, Michigan and Broncos games, plus The Last Ship, Designated Survivor, Fear of the Walking Dead and that grand old man: The Walking Dead.

*Giftcards for Burger King, thanks to Swagbucks: $10 for me, $5 for the Brick. You can take advantage of getting free giftcards, just for doing your usual searches, by going here and applying. The best part: Swagbucks doesn't sell your info, or take advantage of you. We've been using it for at least three years (four, I think), and have earned an average of $100 yearly in Amazon and other giftcards.

*Attended two free talks on haunted local history. The research from these will come in handy for:

                  My new book!
    'Colorado's Haunted Front Range' will come out from Arcadia Press next fall. Their 'Haunted America' imprint is full of fascinating stories, and I'll be proud to write for them. If you know of any hauntings, Colorado-style, that I should know about, leave a comment and I'll get in touch! (Yes, I plan on adding a little Bigfoot to the book, too.)
     Don't think I've gone over to the Dark Side; this series leans heavily toward history and culture, with an emphasis on quirky stories. I love a good story, and believe that my readers particularly appreciate them, too. (You certainly show me this on the blog!)

     I am going to love writing this book.

*Halloween candy: on sale and half-price. It will come in handy for Christmas stockings and presents.

*Dried some sage for Thanksgiving turkey. It's good with antelope meat, too. Brought the planter with the sage plant and a flowering kale inside, to see if they'd continue to produce.

*Pumpkins and frostbitten squash left by the fence, for the chickens. (Thank you, neighbors.)

*A $6.99 haircut, using a coupon.  Thanks, Great Clips!

*Returned a defective 12-pack of Coke. (The altitude messes with soft drinks around here; going over the mountains, they can bulge or leak out their contents.)

*Half-price day at Treasures in the Park, our local thrift shop. Results: a handful of birthday/illness/note cards for 12 cents each; some Christmas presents, most new with tags -- less than a buck each; 5 shirts (3 for the Brick, 2 for me) at $1.25 each; plus a wool suitcoat with leather elbow patches, which the Brick will look distinguished in - $1.50. Tip: It's well worth giving places like this some of your time. Not only are you helping others -- at our shop, it means a 25% discount. So my total costs on this trip were 75% off! (Plus I got a few bags of free bread.)

*A very nice meal out, thanks to an investment-fishing dinner. (No, we didn't buy anything. Didn't pay anything, either.)

*I didn't shop much, while the Brick was gone hunting. (Boy, I wanted to.) He was careful about going out to eat, which was nice of him. Instead, I gave myself time to read Dickens, as a treat.
(Don't laugh -- it helped.)

*Got 20 pounds of birdseed, which kept the chickies alive. It didn't cost that much more than cracked corn, and won't be wasted: our bird population will enjoy what's leftover this winter. They also got food scraps, including half a pan of apple crisp the mice got into. (!!!)

*Bought a few dollar videos and books from the library used book room. 
           Sold one book on Amazon.

*Kept the heat turned off during the Brick's hunting -- even though it got a bit chilly. Made my own coffee. (Not terrible -- but not as good as his, either.)

*Picked up some new appraising; finished a lot more. I also had a weeklong cat-sitting job. Every bit helps.

*Free bags of baked goods from the thrift shop and friends down the street, plus hotdog buns from another friend. (Too bad most of it was only good for the chickens -- but it did help space their food out.)

*Lost a chicken. Only postponing the inevitable.

*Didn't buy food at the Bigfoot conference -- made do with snacks I'd gotten at discount from Amazon and the Friday/Saturday store. Offered a ride to a new friend, and she bought me lunch at our wonderful Vietnamese restaurant, New Saigon. A doggy box from that meal made the Brick very happy. (Yes, their food is that good. Thanks, Terry!)

Their bakery banh mi are delicious, too.

*Safeway did a loss leader: 89-cents/pound turkey breast. Even better: they were out, so I got a raincheck good for 90 days. Whoo hoo -- guess what we're having for the holidays!


     *We let the chickens go on longer than we should have. Part of it was inertia; the other part deadlines and other tasks that needed to get done. Nearly all of those chickens have just been lounging and hogging -- and laying no eggs. The stinkers.
      Thankfully, we had extra bread, pumpkins, etc. which kept us from having to use up all the birdseed. As of this writing, they're still alive -- but not for long.

      *The mice. We've tried everything we can think of, to get these stupid mice out of the house! The Brick has ordered more poison, which is supposed to be powerful. Hopefully that will work.

How about a mouse?

     *The scamming experience. Aargh.

     *Both vehicles' registrations needed renewing. We also paid for the dumpster, after finally getting a bill. As the Brick says, it all has to show up at once...

      *For only the second time in 35-plus years, we had to pay interest on credit cards. We firmly believe in paying our cards off every month. But this time -- we couldn't.  (I'm not saying this to brag -- I'm saying it because it's the truth.)
     The hard part: As some of you know, if you don't pay in full, whatever balance is left starts drawing interest, along with new purchases. And it keeps on until you pay it off in full. Not the amount mentioned on the next bill -- but the full balance.
      I. Hate. This. Fortunately, my appraising efforts let us pay off half the balance mid-month. (Far more, ironically, than the original amount needed to cover the monthly bill.) I think, if we really scrape and stretch, we will pay off the rest by this month's deadline. (With help...see below.) But it hasn't been easy.

     Doing this will get most of next month's bills out of the way early. If you are one of those many Americans who regularly pay interest on your credit cards -- please seriously consider cutting back. Interest paid, compounded over and over, really eats up available funds. Even if it means going without for a little while, you'll be better off in the long run. Then always pay your credit card off in full each month -- and you'll have room to maneuver more easily. Honest.

     What helped so much for us: having savings bonds we'd purchased over the years, while the girlies were growing up. They were meant originally for college costs -- when those happened, the Brick and I paid for them mostly in cash, which meant most of the bonds continued to grow and earn interest. In their case, that's about 4-5% -- a fortune right now, considering.
     We'll redeem only as much as we positively need to pay the credit card balance. Thankfully, we were able to use bonds that were either not earning interest anymore, or only earning 1%. I don't feel so bad about that. (The others will stay uncashed until we absolutely, positively need them...or they mature.)

We can all benefit from bloggers who share their savings hacks -- this Brit saved thousands of pounds in 2016, just by making small changes in her spending habits. A lot of the things I've mentioned here are small change -- but they DO add up. 
     Take a look at previous reports, to see what I mean. September's report is a good place to start.


Faith A. said...

Wow Cindy, thanks a lot from over in England for mentioning my blog and how the small changes made a big difference. Completely agree with you that lots of small savings really do add up. Brilliant your bathroom is done and you've cleared the credit card. All the best, Faith

Cindy Brick said...

Thank you, Faith, for writing! I've enjoyed your blog very much; it's a pleasure to be able to reciprocate.

Another Mom Moment That Fits

Which may have led to this: Did I ever do that to our girlies? Naahhhh....