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Fist Full of Gift Cards (CC Rewards)

February 19th, 2015 at 01:57 pm

Still busy painting here... Now I'm doing a bookcase for DS's room.

I did get my Chase Southwest points redeemed for $600 in gift cards. When I took them all out of the shipping envelope it really was a fist full of cards. Big Grin

I was able to purchase the new bedding for DS's bunk bed almost completely with some of those CC reward gift cards.

I spent just under $10 to cover what the gift cards didn't. Such a sweet feeling!

And, earlier this week I cancelled the card and had the $99 annual fee refunded. So all is good.

Catching Up - Been Busy with Bedroom Makeover!!

February 12th, 2015 at 02:18 pm

The past few weeks have been so busy for me. Any time I had for the computer was spent updating Quicken, paying bills, shopping for said bedroom or checking email. I did stop in here at SA to read blogs, but I was too tired or pressed for time to post anything.

The project has been clearing out DS's bedroom.
It started with needing to get him a new bed.
He has been sleeping in his crib - converted to toddler daybed, and he is getting too big for that. So I spent a chunk of time shopping for bedroom furniture. After some debate we decided to go the bunk bed route to give us an extra bed for guests. (Visitors currently have the choice of couch or cot.)

I had been searching Craigslist every few days since before Christmas. Saw a few serviceable beds and a whole lot of beds I didn't want. Some beds I saw in stores were so flimsy I was afraid to climb up on them. And some beds I liked were nearly $1800!
Anyway, it was a process. I ended up buying a sturdy bed from a local chain store that cost more than a flimsy bed, but half the price of the Pottery Barn bed that it looks exactly like.
I asked for an early President's Day weekend discount. That saved me the sales tax.
And asked for a discount on the matching chest dresser, which they gave me $50 off. That made me happy I was pushy and asked for a discount.

BUT, before I could have this lovely new big-boy bunk bed delivered I wanted to clean up DS's room.
That morphed into painting a wall yellow (his choice), touching up paint on the other walls, FINALLY painting the room doors, FINALLY painting and installing baseboard and door trim.
I've been doing a lot of painting... darn yellow wall took three coats before it looked right!

But the mess and aching back have been worth it - I am so pleased that one room in my house is 100% trimmed out and clean! Big Grin

The baseboards especially are my favorite. DH's too. We are actually chomping at the bit to do the hallway which has un-painted, un-calked baseboard right now.

I have been using gift cards from the Southwest bonus to purchase the new bedding for the room. That has meant more of my time spent shopping online for just the right things. Smile

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.. the bunk bed is being assembled by the deliveryman right now as I type this!!

August

September 1st, 2014 at 04:37 pm

Been busy here. We were out every weekend in August.
DD theater performances.
Camping.
Close friends had their twin's first birthday.
Kids visiting grandparents.
Our nephew's first birthday.
A baby shower for my BFF.

Lots of traveling so we spent way more than usual in gas.


(Beautiful Quicken graph for an ugly total!)

Did a little better in other spending areas - food for one since we didn't have to feed ourselves several weekends.

Gift Giving:
We didn't buy anything for the twins. They have so much family that there was a huge pile of gifts. Our friends have a small house too, so I don't know where all that is going to go!

Our nephew got a box of fruit & veggie pouches from Costco. $12.

For my BFF baby shower I bought two clearance items. A cute outfit for $3.99 and a plush blanket for $5.99. I also bought her firstborn a wooden puzzle (her birthday is next week) for $4.

While shopping I found a very cute long sleeve Roxy shirt for DD. $19. I stashed it for Christmas.

DH is still having short hours at work, which leads to low paychecks. It's tough because we can't pay extra to anything and we still need to get the roof taken care of and I do not want to drain the EF to $0.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time he had a "normal" 40 hour paycheck. It has been about 18 months since he had a full paycheck AND commission (sometimes netted him as much as $500/week extra).

And it seems it is causing him some depression. Even though it isn't his fault, he is taking it personally (like he can't provide for the family).
I have suggested that now might be the right time to try finding something new or maybe a part time job. I have gotten a lukewarm response to that, so we'll see....

Sunday Shopping. Birthday Gifts.

April 27th, 2014 at 06:17 pm

Went to Target this morning.
I rarely shop there, but the new one is so close to the house it is so easy to get in and out.

I went for shampoo, laundry soap, fabric softener, sliced bread and a gift for a birthday party DS went to this afternoon.

For the first time EVER I texted a number to get a coupon.
It was text TARGET the promo text LAUNDRY1 and get $5 off a $20 purchase of laundry related items. The coupon then came online on my smartphone with a barcode that the cashier scanned.
I like the savings, but what about folks without smartphones? I don't like that sort of exclusion.
**ETA: CCF commented that this coupon was online and in their ad. So I feel better about that. **

For the birthday gift - a giant bubble wand in a tube of bubble soap. I bought five at $1.99/each. DS has two parties next weekend, as well as one at the end of the month, AND his own birthday.
I felt like this is something that is high fun value, but easy on the pocketbook. Plus you can refill the tube all summer long. Smile

DH made homemade Alfredo sauce for dinner tonight. He and DD took most of it over to his boss' house for a birthday party there. DS and I opted to stay home. We are using up some old, opened pasta to have our sauce with. DH bought the cheese and cream for about $8 (butter and garlic we already had on hand) - so this was also an inexpensive gift.

Costco Visit

March 6th, 2014 at 08:20 pm

I suppose we are "luckier" than most - a Costco trip is hassle free for us (if easy shopping is "lucky" Wink).
I might have mentioned the store closest to home is right off the highway between the city I work in and the city I live in.
The store is always super clean and has a large parking lot and is rarely crowded during the week.

This afternoon I stopped in for gas and some *stuff*..

Gas was $3.53/gal.

Here are some of the highlights...



$ 9.59 - 3lb bag Frozen Organic Blueberries
$ 8.99 - 6lb bag Frozen California Strawberries
$16.79 - 2.5lb Fancy Unsalted Whole Nuts (I love these! Almonds. Cashews. Pecans. Pistachios. NO cheap-ie peanuts!)
$ 9.99 - 12ct Happy Squeeze Pouches (Tasty fruit & veggie puree - excellent snack for DS.)
$11.99 - 80ct Cascade Dishwasher packs
$19.69 - Jumbo rolls of TP

I also bought rawhide chews for our dog. Canned tuna. Two cases of Izzy juice/sparkling water (special lunch treats for DD). Good clumping cat litter - 35lbs for $8.59. Ice cream sandwiches. Frozen burritos. Crackers.

As you can see I picked up some staples and some favorite treats.
What's your favorite item at Costco?

Vacation, then Christmas, now nearly New Year.. Oh My!

December 28th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

Our trip was great!
Really my only complaint was that it was 75F-80F (terrible, hu?) and made the Disney parks a bit more crowded than we were used to. (We always plan to go at "non-peak" times to save money and avoid the crowds. We usually wait 15 minutes or less on the really popular rides and less than 5 minutes for everything else.)
I shouldn't complain, even waiting twice as long as we're used to is better than a lot of people deal with.

It was so enjoyable to watch DS's enjoyment.
This is him on the Toy Story ride which he kept referring to as the "yellow glasses ride".


I used a hotel we hadn't stayed in before. While the hotel was nice and the beds very comfy it was too much of a walk to get into the parks. We walked back and forth twice each day in order to take an afternoon nap, so it was a lot of walking.

Yes, there is a circulating bus/shuttle, but I didn't want to pay the extra money, plus you have to wait for it to pick up and drop off. I prefer to walk, although this time it meant some seriously sore feet by day end.

We did pretty well with food spending. Snacks in the car and hotel room. Eating out *only* twice daily was easy to manage.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for $12. I had $100 gift card (credit card reward) that almost covered the "splurg-y" meal.
A character breakfast included with our package at n/c was a great treat.
I had my special treat in Disney - a Monte Cristo - that was filling enough for two meals.
We also ate at the Mexican restaurant in Frontier Land which I have found to be nearly the same cost as Mexican food anywhere else. You can also get free soda refills there. That meant my DH bought a soda with six trips for refills. Big Grin

We rented a car. A 2013 Ford Focus.
It was good for us. I had calculated that we would be about even driving our own gas guzzling car vs. renting a fuel saving car. Additionally, no wear and tear on our aging vehicle (we drove 1370 miles).
With the costs tabulated we saved a little money by renting the car! Smile

Here it is in Las Vegas at the Excalibur - where we stayed.



We splurged on the Tournament of Kings dinner show. It's where you eat with your hands while watching knights battle. I had seen a similar show while in high school so knew what to expect (good for a three-year-old!).
My family really enjoyed the show. As predicted DS was glued to the action. Big Grin

DH and I hit the blackjack tables both nights, but alas, didn't win big. We have found that we can play blackjack for hours on very little money all while drinking *free* beer. Smile

Vacation Spending:
$1414 Disney package (4 nights/(4) 4-day hopper tickets/pkg extras)
$310 Food
$200 Cash for gambling/souvenirs/misc.
$181 Rental car
$159 Dinner show
$146 Gas
$ 94 Vegas hotel (2 nights @ $29+taxes/resort fees)

DH's boss gave us DH's $500 Christmas bonus early so we could apply it to the trip if we wanted.
(I used the Sapphire for almost everything and will use the bonus money toward the bill next month.)

Both DH and I used paid vacation time, so no lost income.
We saved a few bucks in daycare costs.
My dad stayed at our house so we didn't pay anything for house/pet care. As a big plus, my dad totally spruced up the front and backyard - mowed, raked, swept.. That was nice!

This trip was our Christmas gift to each other. Tiring, but good family time and some funny memories made. I'll tell you it was nice - no shopping, no wrapping, no extra crap!

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Christmas was comfortable and low-key.
Santa brought a $25 dump truck set for DS.
Santa used Amazon credit (from selling back the EMT textbooks) for DH and DD's gifts. They cost $0.
Stocking stuffers included personal care products and trip souvenirs.

I got coffee and chocolate from almost everyone. Smile
My boss gave me a nice, crisp $100.

Only my parents were here with us (Yay! no drama!).
I made a nice ham dinner, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, rolls, pie.

This year I feel like I figured out the best way to warm a ham without drying it out!
I used a roasting bag and set the oven for 275F.
About 10 minutes/lb.
Nice and warm throughout - no dry slices!

I bought a 10lb ham for the extra leftovers. I froze the ham bone for later use and a dinner's worth of slices for a future meal.

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Kids are visiting the in-laws until tomorrow. DH and I have been basking in the quiet laziness the last 48 hours.

Next week will be pretty easy. Work one and a half days, then another paid day off. Big Grin
Then.. WOW.. 2014!

$0.99 Teacher Gifts & "Needy" Children

December 7th, 2013 at 02:30 pm

The one item that I have had my DH pick up for me on Black Friday the past few years has been the $0.99 poinsettias from Home Depot.

This year I used them as gifts for DD's teachers.
She was embarrassed to carry a bunch of plants to school yesterday morning. I told her to get over it!
She doesn't think anyone gives teacher gifts now in middle school - it's not "cool". I told her it is important to recognize the efforts of teachers and appreciate them. (My mom is a teacher, so maybe I feel more strongly than most.) And all DD's teachers seem really on top of things and good.

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DS's preschool had a "giving tree" for a local community school that serves special needs, at risk and low income children. Last week I chose two disadvantaged children to buy gifts for. My first pass through the names/wishes made me cry - very sad situations - homeless, parents in jail, etc.. Gift wishes were very simple; books, art supplies, dolls, Transformers..

I picked siblings - a nine year old brother (NERF stuff) and six year old sister (American Girl type doll & Mickey ears).

I purchased their wish list items with the Sapphire card and spent $97 total. We will get the gifts wrapped up this weekend so I can deliver them to DS's school on Monday.

Working on getting lots done before our big trip! Big Grin

Shopped *Small* Yesterday

December 1st, 2013 at 03:03 pm




Used my AmEx to buy chocolates for Christmas gifts at a local shop.
I will get a $10 account credit for shopping there yesterday. I was going to shop there anyway so getting $10 back was especially sweet.

I have eaten a lot of chocolate and they make the best truffles I have ever had. Big Grin

The shop is not in the town I live in. However, it was a beautiful 20 minute drive through vineyards and pastures bathed in sunshine.
The drive and the "tasting" certainly made shopping a very pleasant experience.

$10 Credit When U Use Your AmEx

November 25th, 2013 at 08:20 pm

Small Business Saturday.
Shop a participating small business with your registered American Express card this Saturday (11/30) and get a $10 account credit.

Details here:
[url]https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-...

Time Change. Clothes Shopping.

November 14th, 2013 at 07:20 am

Still not adjusted to the time change. It is actually a good thing for me because I am awake and out of bed early these days.
It is very relaxing to have the house to yourself in the morning. Smile

On the flip side, I am frequently falling asleep on the couch at 9pm. We call our couch "The Life Sucking Couch". Even without the time change if you lay down on it you fall asleep. It literally happens to everyone.

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Stopped into Old Navy to see if I could find anything good on clearance. Also wanted a pair of jeans and thought I'd see what they had there. Last time I bought any jeans was about four years ago - maternity jeans. And before that? I can't recall. Six years maybe?

I ended up with five tops and a pair of jeans for $46.
The checkout gal was very nice and she helped me decide between two different tank tops to wear under a blouse. When I left and looked more closely at my receipt and saw she entered a code that gave me 10% off everything. That was a very nice surprise.
That made the tank top less than $3 and these two clearance shirts $4/each.

Happy Halloween! + What We Spent On It

October 31st, 2013 at 02:23 pm

Here are our pumpkins we carved last night.



This year we were pretty lazy in regards to Halloween. We didn't pull out the "fancy" pumpkin carving stencils or anything else. Usually DD and DH decorate the yard with fake webs, some tombstones, strobe light etc.. It just didn't come together this year - other time commitments and lack of motivation.

As far as spending I'm sure we are on the low end of the American average again this year. Smile

$15 - Three pumpkins
$12 - Candy
$34 - Costumes for both DD and DS

DS had a party at his preschool this morning with games and crafts. The school asks that costumes be plants, animals or insects. No monsters, superheroes, princesses, etc.. It does make the celebration feel so much less commercialized and materialistic, which I appreciate.



I saw some wonderful animal costumes - lions, tigers, a hippo, some mice, a sheep...
A darling little redheaded girl as a ladybug. Big Grin
A boy dressed as an oak tree with fall leaves and acorns.

There is a costume "lending library" where you can donate costumes to it or borrow from it. I love that idea. Too bad there wasn't a boy appropriate costume in the box when I checked last week.

I am sure we will donate DS's elephant costume to the school.
Pretty sure it will be too small for next year - darn it.

Tonight we are having dinner with friends early in the evening then T or T their neighborhood. Our contribution to dinner is roasted baby carrots and fresh, organic grapes. Super easy for me - Yay!

May everyone get Treats instead of Tricks tonight!
BOO-HAA-HAA-HAA!! Big Grin