Friday, December 29, 2017

Frugal Hits & Misses: December Report

     This month went far more quickly than I thought it would, thanks in large part to trudging off to work at Tuesday Morning a few days a week. For some reason, we have been bone-exhausted much of the month. We spent time resting and watching a variety of programs and games, including college and pro football. Not that it helped our teams much -- CU, Michigan and the Broncos are all doing badly. (Sigh.)
     We saw some Christmas movies (mostly when the Brick was too pooped to protest), but especially episodes from JAG and some vintage cowboy shows remembered from kidhood: Laramie, Laredo, the Virginian and Wagon Train. In spite of five or even six decades time, many of these episodes have held up very well.



    
 That rest helped my bum knee keep going at work, as well as through long periods standing during Worship Team and choir at church. Holiday music is too great a pleasure to be missed, even if an appendage isn't cooperating.
     On the docket for January: eating as much out of the freezer and pantry as possible. Work on the new book about Colorado haunted history, including a few trips for photos and research. 
     And of course:






FRUGAL HITS

*Purchased from Amazon: a 12-book set of Boxcar Children books, plus a portable bookcase -- for pennies less than $12! Free shipping and a $5 credit sweetened the deal.
     I bought several other books and movies on sale and at discount, including a treasure-hunting memoir I hope will inspire us for future trips -- and a few Bigfoot experience books. (I can't help it.) 

*Returned a $10 rosemary 'tree' which turned brown at lightspeed. Sprouts let me exchange it for another, which is doing much better.

*Free items from King Soopers (Krogers, if you're on the East Coast), and occasionally Safeway.  You must log in on Fridays to get the King Soopers goodies; both chains have Friday, Saturday and Friday-Sunday specials that also need logging in for coupons. Do it on Friday, and you'll see what's available all weekend. One of the specials: 99-cent/lb pork loin! That was Christmas dinner, and will be on the menu for New Years Eve dinner, as well.

*Only minimal groceries. Mostly milk. I also bought meat and a few extras (if on sale), and picked up the latest freebie. Didn't neglect the markdown racks, either. The best purchase: six DiGiorno pizzas for the price of two -- I had 2 buy-two-get-one-free specials, plus coupons for two free pizzas.
     Other food buys included ham for 89 cents/lb and green beans for 77 cents/lb, plus hothouse cucumbers, 2/$1. We also ate several packages of the Palisade peaches I'd frozen back in September.
   
*Irish Christmas concert tickets, with the Gettys -- $20 each, thanks to our friend Ivan. ($60/each value) I particularly enjoyed the after-concert session in the entryway...complete with two young girls who suddenly decided to add a little Irish dancing to the mix!
     The concert was interesting... the after-concert jam was magical.





*Bought a few more $1/$2 videos (and books) from the library used book room, and the thrift shop. Sold seven videos on Amazon, including one for $33! That gives me extra cash for future speculating, as well as ideas on what sells well. (Hint: think documentaries.)

*Working at Tuesday Morning brought in extra cash. I have a few days left at work, but the total is almost exactly what I estimated I'd earn. It's a welcome boost for our stripped-out savings fund.
      I was also able to buy foodstuffs (tea, spices, cookies, candy, even caviar), Christmas gifts and other goodies at 20-40% discount. Once the after-Christmas sale really kicks in, I plan to save even more.

*We didn't pay off the credit card. Horrible, right? Well, it still bothers me some...but as the Brick pointed out:
     -it's interest-free until July 2018
     -we're still making enough payments on it to easily clear the balance by then
     -we're setting aside money in savings to cover the remainder
     -we're earning cashback on purchases we do make (this is essential)

and best of all: we met the minimum charges required to earn a $500 bonus next month!
     If the credit card company thinks we're going to get caught owing big bucks in July -- they've got another think coming.

*Purchased $250 in Red Robin giftcards -- paid $200, and earned some free gift bucks, as well, for use in Jan-Feb. The giftcards went to Brickworks employees and clients, as a little thank you for their help and services in 2017.

*Got a lot of baked goods from friends and the thrift shop. These fed us, but more importantly, helped augment the chickens' feed. Not that they're grateful they're still alive, the stinkers...we get an egg or two almost every day. And one of the little dinosaurs eats a second egg almost every day. Hopefully, the troublemaker will be one of the first chickens we butcher.


Darn tootin', Missy!

*Cleaned out the refrigerator, in preparation for the Seven Fish Dishes. Gave stale items to the chickies, and served leftovers for several quick meals.

*Refilled the soap and dish soap dispensers, using a big bottle of bubbles liquid. You know -- the kind you use to blow bubbles with. (It worked great.)

*Took on some restoration jobs. These not only will provide some income in January, often a slow month, but will keep my stitching methods fresh.

*Earned a few more $5 Burger King giftcards via Swagbucks. If you're not familiar with this program, it's great for earning giftcards and other prizes, just by doing your regular work. Go here to sign up -- it doesn't cost a thing, and really pays off.

*Knit Christmas stockings from the thrift shop: a buck each. A few more stockings from the dollar store completed the list this year. I have plans to retrieve a needlepoint stocking I found in the archives, and get it ready for next season.

*A free bagel every Friday in December, courtesy of Panera. Actually, it was every day this month, but I only used it during weekly coffee with friends.

*Little things count. I tried to pay attention to those, whenever possible. Examples: 20 or so extra sq. ft on a roll of giftwrap (same price was charged for all the rolls); imported items (like Mozartkugeln and lebkuchen) only purchased if I could get them at discount; the heaviest/biggest bunch of celery, cilantro or spinach; adding scraps of bacon or corned beef (scavenged from the leftover restaurant half-sandwich) for tastier eggs or fried potatoes.

*A new Nativity set.

*The Brick fixed the stove. The oven hasn't been heating properly for months, and a new circuit board was needed. He figured out a way to jury-rig the board...and now it's doing fine.

*Had a bad dining experience at Freddie's, a normally excellent burger joint. Wrote a letter -- and got a free meal to compensate. (Look for a post soon on how to complain effectively.)

*Progress on the $5-into-$50 scam? Absolutely nothing. I'm still effectively at $0, which is okay. At least I got my money back.

*A couple of small bonuses from my piano students -- always appreciated. One group will start back up in January.

*Bought a few after-Christmas items at 50% off -- or more. Mostly cookies.

*Used the Siena giftcard to celebrate our anniversary luncheon with friends.  Just enough is left on the card for dessert and coffee sometime in the near future.




FRUGAL MISSES

Fortunately, these were rare in December. We did spend more than planned on gifts, goodies and supplies, but got them either on sale or with a discount. Some will be used to help stock and furnish the trailer. Others were items we were low on, like detergent, printer ink and cornstarch. 

*Didn't get much benefit from the Thanksgiving turkey. Nor the Christmas pork loin. However, Daughter #2 and Son #1 took the leftovers home and enjoyed them. That was more than ok.

A bit of food was wasted -- including ham ends and some fruit. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we still have the chickens. They made short work of anything 'iffy.'  Nothing, except some leftover lobster broth, was left over from the Seven Fish Dishes, though. Woo-hoo!

The American Society of Appraisers membership came due: $600. Ouch. Some other memberships, like the Colorado Quilt Council, need to be renewed. Fortunately, an appraisal job some months ago covered my Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum membership, including one for RMQM's Nan's Hundred Club.

Spent more than I'd planned on Christmas gifts... like a last-minute special on some great travel mugs.  I bought 5 -- the Brick, both daughters and Son #1 are irretrievably attached to their coffee mugs. The old ones are beat-up and scratched; they can act as backup. (The mugs are still on sale. You should get one!)




For more Frugal Hits & Misses reports, starting with November, go here. 
   Or compare this month's report with last year.

Who knows what will happen in 2018! We're looking forward to it.



The star still shines on Castle Rock...



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Yikes!