Monday, November 2, 2009

eyeglasses and contact lenses

I've searched the web over for deals on eyeglasses and contacts...but this is one of those things that change almost monthly, so please feel free to add new sites.

My daughter and husband wear glasses; my daughter also wears contacts. There was a time when I wore both, but 8 years ago I had lasik eye surgery, and it was some of the best money I've ever spent. I will have to wear glasses for reading someday (probably sooner than I'd like), but going from 20/200 to 20/15 overnight was an amazing thing...let me know if you have questions.

So, with a daughter wearing toric lenses and the office price at right around$47.00 a box, I started the search. has the best prices I've found, approximately $25 a box and free shipping.

Eyeglasses are getting cheaper every day. There are several sites that sell complete packages (frames and lenses,even bifocals) for $8.99, even with shipping they are less than $13.00 a pair. So check out the selections at the followiing:,, and

Monday, October 26, 2009

white chicken deals

Ah, the glorious chicken. Produces eggs and meat for us, and even feathers for our pillows. I LOVE chicken, and could eat it five times a week, but we probably average only once or twice. So what's the beat deal for the money??
Let me just start by saying that I rarely purchase meat unless it's on sale. I've often wondered what gives the most bang for the buck with chicken. Obviously, boneless, skinless breast is the easiest to prepare and usually the tastiest, but it is also considerably more expensive, upwards from $2.50 per pound. So, I did some experiments.
First, I purchased ten pounds of legs and thighs for a sale price of 59 cents a pound. I cooked, boned and skinned them and ended up with 3.5 pounds of edible chicken, which is about $1.70 per pound. Then I compared bone in, skin on breast to boneless, skinless. My conclusion was that, overall, pound-for-edible-pound, bone in, skin on breast is the beast deal. I often find this on sale for as low as 79 cents a pound, and when I do, I fill my freezer. Boneless, skinless is rarely less than $2.00 a pound, even on sale, and it is very easy to remove the skin and bones from the other, either before or after it is cooked. Little effort for a decent cost savings. You only lose about one pound in ten after removing the unedible parts. Of course, you have to consider what you are going to be using the chicken for in the first place.
So there's my very unscientific analysis...anybody have some good recipes to share??

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New system...

Here's my new strategy after not even LOOKING at my blog for weeks....I plan to post on Mondays and Thursday for those of you who really want to keep up with me.

Coming posts: which diapers are best for the money and great chicken ideas (eating it, not growing it:)!!

Movies, movies, deals in town

Ah, the movies...gotta love them! What can be more relaxing than falling asleep watching your favorite flick?? With so many options these days, allow me to tell you about some of my favorites:

The library!!! Yes, my all time favorite place to pick up a good movie. Our library has thousands of titles and lots of good documentaries. And if your favorite isn't there, you can place it on hold and they'll call you when it comes in. Best place for a freebie (if you don't count your taxes, that is.....TANSTAAFL)

Netflix: You sign up for Netflix online. There are different levels, but basically the way it works is that you pay X amount per month and get to chose from thousands of titles. For $8.99 a month, you get unlimited titles. You indicate the movies you want, Netflix sends out one or more at a time (dependent on your level) and boom! they show up in your mailbox usually the next day. When you're done, you mail them back in a prepaid envelope. This is especially great if you are in a rural area, which was the reason we participated in Maine. They have a 1 month free have nothing to lose!!

Redbox: Like a vendng machine for DVDS, these things are showing up on every corner. Swipe your credit or debit card and select a video. You are charged a buck a night until you return it...and you can return the DVD to ANY Redbox, not just the one you got it from. After 20 nights, the billing stops and you own it. You can also reserve copies online if you want a certain show. Biggest negative: not a huge selection.
Family Video: SOOOO much better than Blockbuster or Hollywood video. Huge selection, and not to be outdone by Redbox, new releases are now $1.00 for FIVE nights!!! Free kid videos, too. Can't beat that!!
So go get a movie!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Keep Climbing, cash for (fill in the blank....)

Somedays, you just have to keep climbing...know what I mean??? Here's a shot from along Knife's Edge at Mt Katahdin this summer....we all climbed this bad boy....can't even tell you how blessed I was to have all 4 of my kids stand at the top with me! When I think about that, other stuff seems rather trivial. So just keep climbing whatever mountain God has you on right now...
Here's a question: Is it ever moral to save money at someone else's expense? We've always taught our kids that if only one person pays for the salad bar, no one else can have even a bite. That the guy who keeps a cup from every fast food place in his car so he can get "free refills" any time is as much a thief as a bank robber. That if you are given too much money back at the grocery store, you should make a trip back to turn it get the point. So when the government says they'll give cash for energy "defficient" junk (cars, now appliances apparently), with money that doesn't even exist, we teach our kids that it's wrong to save money at the expense of their grandchildren. It's just not the right thing to do. I'll keep my 80s fridge till I can save enough to buy a new one myself. I'll just trust God that doing the right thing will pay off in the end. Even if that's not in this age....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

end of summer, back to school, Biltmore

Ahh, I am with my sibs and Mum in Maine...but as nice as this was, reality is, right now, I am back in NC and the kids are already back to school!
So lets tackle b2s supplies. First of all...have you seen these lists that schools put out??? (Have to be careful here, my husband is the principal...and I really do love my school.!!!!!)Not just "dry erase markers" but "Expo brand, bold color, chisel tip, low odor dry erase markers." Wow. When I was in school, I bought a spiral bound notebook, and a pack of pens and pencils. Go figure....but I digress...what's an uber-mom to do? I mean, my kids get points off their grades if they don't have all 90 plastic page protectors turned in by a certain I have to get them. First of all, I shop ahead. And when Staples has paper for 5 cents...I buy tons!!! But mostly, I reuse...yep, my kids use the same colored pencils and markers year after year. They've had the same LL Bean back packs for 5 years now (free with LL Bean coupon points from the credit card) and I always scrounge. When my daughter needed 90 page protectors, I tore apart my boys NC notebooks from previous years. No going out and spending $10.00 for me!! My son needed tabbed dividers. I found the ones I had 25 years ago in HS. I'm big on the "reuse" part of the three Rs. And of course, I shop around. As always, however, if I just gotta have...I go to Wal-Mart. Happy Shopping!!
And the Biltmore...OK, here's how you save on spending:)! For Christmas last year, I bought year passes for hubby and I @$99 each. For this, we get unlimited admission for a year, kids get in free and we get 10% off at the restaurants and gift shops. If I recall without looking it up, the cost for one adult admission is $37.00. We plan to go once a season. Yesterday, he and I had a great day-long date. We'll go again with the kids at Christmas.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where have you been????

Well , hello blogger friends...sorry to leave you hanging in cyberspace. There really have been deals out there, I've just been trying to figure out what to do with my computer life...and, as usual, the summer has been crazy, but really grand!

As promised, I will send gift cards to 2 of my faithful followers (one for July and one for August)...I used a very reliable scientific system, I pointed and clicked So the winners are:

July, $10.00 Dunkin Donuts card: Jen Gaskill
August, $10.00 Target card: D Walters (who I'm assuming is Dave, let me know if I am wrong!)

I know where you will get your cards!

Some have suggested that this blog become more devotional/thoughtful....or at least a combination of that and "frugal stuff..."as I mentioned, I'm still trying to figure out what would be best....BUT I'M BACK!!! Suggestions please...

Had a yard sale Saturday so the kids could earn money....made $248.00, which was way more than we thought we would make. People will buy the strangest things!!

Kids start school next Tuesday and our Korean student flies back on Friday. We are frantically trying to finish "her" bathroom...Mike is, as I write, cutting trim and getting ready to plumb the sink and toilet. Best money save I have is my husband!!

Pictures soon....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ebay and vacations

"You ask and have not, because you ask for the wrong reasons."
Yes, I sell and buy on ebay...although lately, as with everything else, the cost to do so is getting greater. Still, I can usually make more money on ebay than I can at a yard sale. I recently sold 4 items, and after ebay and paypal fees, I made around $90.00. Chances are, if you are looking for something, you will be able to find it on ebay. When Abby was needing cans of tube feeding, the home care company charged $120.00 for a 24 can flat. I bought them on ebay, shipping included, for $12.00 a flat. WOW!

The back braces my kids needed cost our insurance company $545.00 each. The exact same brace, new on an ebay store, was $70.00. Of course, with the braces, I couldn't shop around because they cut off the cast and put the brace on. And yes, I will try to sell the used ones on ebay, though I doubt I'll be successful.

We leave tomorrow to go to Maine. I always clean the house before I leave. Sometimes I wonder if that's smart. We are going to Montreal and Quebec City before we hit Maine and I'm really excited about that part of it. This picture was taken in Quebec City last summer. Very quaint. Is there anyone who LIKES packing. Ugh. But I must go now and do the dreaded work. I'll let you know how the free hotels pan out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

GTCC dental cleanings, student haircuts, drywall

"Drudgery is the touchstone of character." Oswald Chambers it's been awhile since I posted and too much has happened to list it all, but I'll hit the highlights...

Thursday was our "student" day. The kids and I have been getting our teeth cleaned at GTCC for years. There is a dental hygienist program there and they really do a wonderful job. Cleaning & fluoride treatment is $5.00. Add a buck for bite wing xrays and 5 bucks for a panoramic (Abby just had one of these at the oral surgeon's office and I paid $200 out of pocket-how's that for mark-up?), which they do every 18 months. They also give you the toothbrush, toothpaste and floss and when the kids were little, a toy. The kids have all had sealants done also. I know, your dental insurance gives you free cleanings, right? Good point. That's what Mike has. But to add the family to his plan is $50.00 a month. I just paid $33.00 for the kids and I- cleanings and the needed xrays. You do the math. I still come out way ahead. The down side is time. Plan to spend @3 hours in the chair. The student does a full mouth exam and then cleans. The instructor checks everything and then the dentist does his exam. On the other hand, all 5 of us start at the same time. If we were going to our regular dentist, that would be 5 appointments on different days, which would be more time spent overall. I wouldn't go anywhere else. I've never had a problem. On one trip last year, the kids had sealants and most needed x-rays. I spent $100.00 that trip. I figured up what that would have paid at the dentist...over $1200.00. GTCC rocks!!

Speaking of GTCC...they also have a culinary arts program. You can get a 4 course meal, including sweet tea, coffee and dessert for around $7.00...depending on the menu, which you typically have no choice in. Sometimes you can choose between two entrees. Again, I've had great experiences. You have to have a reservation...I believe the days are Weds and Thurs for lunch and Thurs for dinner. Well worth the trip.

On to the beauty school experience. High Point has a new school called Fila Academy (On Eastchester beside Hobby Lobby.) I decided to bite the bullet and go all out. I've never had my hair colored in a salon. Ever. I started going gray at age 14 and began with highlights around age 18. I always use whatever is free after rebate. But lately I've been a more "copperish, " so I decided to see what paying more would get me. As I expected, the instructor tells the student what to use, so that was not an issue. I think I look like Wilma Flinstone now, but my daughter and husband are quite pleased and tell me it is not orange at all, so I guess it's OK. I have a very difficult time covering the gray, and it disappeared also. So here's what I got:

haircut with shampoo, deep condition and styling: $10
all over color WITH high lights: $32
eyebrow wax: $5
manicure: $8
pedicure: $16

I have never had a pedicure, and the girl did a great job, massage and all. Manicure and cut were a little off, but I've had the same experiences paying full price.

Again, I compared with a couple of high end salons, and I would have paid well over $275.00, depending on the stylist. I think GTCC has this also, but I have never been there for the beauty school.

Saturday was our 17th anniversary....since that is such a special number and all, Mike spent right around $200.00 on a dinner and hotel...the amount saved on my day at Fila. It was worth every penny. We've had a great many stay-at-home-dates that were just as meaningful though. He's a great guy!

And to close today....we needed to have our 5X8 bathroom ceiling drywalled. Mike does a respectable job, but ceilings are hard when you are doing it alone and I'm not much help in that dept. We priced two different guys. One wanted $325 and the other $150. ALWAYS get a second opinion. I recommend David Seawell. Great job!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

gardens, planning and free donuts for As

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
You are nearer God's heart in a garden,
Than anywhere else on earth!"
(While I don't see that as theologically correct...I do believe there's a little truth in there!

I do love to work in the dirt. Our little patch isn't very big, but it's still fun. Our lettuce is getting bitter and I will pull it soon and put in another few hills of cantaloupe. We should have broccoli next week. My green beans are an inch long...I'm hoping for some before we head up to Maine in 9 days

Today 2 of my kids took their report cards to Krispy Kreme because we heard they give free donuts for As on your report card. They were hoping for one donut...they got one for each A (up to 6) so they each came home with a half dozen. How sweet is that?!

Not much going on today. I did talk to the first hospital we went to about reimbursement because I found out our insurance company waived the copays on the kids ($150 a crack). Sure enough, the system showed they had payments from us AND the insurance company and they said they'd send a check out for $600.00. I won't hold my breath...but that would be SO sweet! Funny, I really doubt they would have done that on their own!!

Mike rented a crimper from Home Depot and bought some fittings for the bathroom. He has the water all shut off now. I'm really thankful to have a husband who can tackle projects!! Saves a bunch on labor costs.

Made out a menu for the next 9 days to use up every possible bit of food in the house. I should be able to make it with no grocery store's like a game...

Breakfast: oatmeal (1.50)
Lunch: mac n cheese/hot dogs (2.00)
Dinner: burgers/salad/coleslaw (6.00)

Money out: $53.00 (HD)
Money In: 0

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thrift Stores, freebies, Family Video, milk alternative

Hold on to your's a good deal day! Off to Carolina Thrift first thing this morning, and let me tell ya, it was PACKED. Could have bought a lot more than I did (like a really nice Coach leather purse for $25 and a pair of Bjorn shoes for $3, but I decided I didn't "need" them, no matter how great the deal was...). I opted for a navy sports jacket for Mike in perfect condition for $2.50. That baby retails for over $100. Also got like new Adidas track shoes for Will for $5 (retail of about $70) and a VHS of Jane Eyre (my favorite novel) for $1. I know, VHS are passe. But I like them better than DVDs. Rarely do we rent a DVD that it doesn't "mess up" part way through. So I'm stock piling VCR players that I get for $5 at yard sales. That way, when mine die, I'll have more. So far I 3 extras. My daughter bought some school clothes and my son bought a hard back book (Eragon) for $3.50 that retails for $21.

I digress... On to Walmart where my oldest son bought a brand new bike that he has been saving for for months. I admit, I was not thrilled with this purchase. I would rather he spend $25 at Carolina Thrift and pocket the other $100. But the look of pride on his face as he wheeled it out was pretty awesome. He really disciplined himself to save for it, so GO WILL!! I spent $11.00 on groceries. It's the time of year when I try very hard to not buy groceries and clean out what we have before we head to Maine. As Abby says, this leads to "interesting" meal combinations.

On to Barnes and Noble, where I bought 3 of the 4 summer reading books for Abby's AP English 2, get one free! One of them had pages that were stuck together on the bottom, so I also got 20% off that one. ALWAYS ask! $11.00 out, but on a gift card, so nothing out of pocket.

Stopped at Starbucks for a free coffee...I still have money left on a gift card I got in Cleveland.

Let me tell you how I save on milk. I use to buy powdered milk at Aldi, but when the price of regular milk skyrocketed a few months back, powdered milk did also. Now that milk prices have bottomed out, powdered milk is actually more, as those prices haven't decreased. It is @ $3.00 a gallon. In NC, I can buy a gallon of milk at Aldi for $1.75. Not to be thwarted, I did some research last year. I purchased a powdered milk product called "morning moos" at the site A 50# bag is $116 shipped. The site says it makes at least 70 gallons, but I have had the same bag for a year now, still have some left, and have made well over 120 gallons. I use 1 cup of product per gallon. For simplicity's sake, we'll say it costs a buck a gallon. I'll be honest, you have to drink this really cold and it has a bit of an aftertaste. My kids, who have grown up on powdered milk, balked at little at this one. We also had a foreign student living with us who wouldn't drink it. So I mix it half/half with regular milk. That makes my total @$1.35 a gallon. We drink a gallon a day. Theoretically, that saves $140.00 a year. Enough gas to drive to Maine!! Woo Hoo!!!

I hope no one went to KMart for double coupons today, at least not in the triad. Even though the national ad said ALL stores would participate, apparently each store could still say no. That stinks, but that's life!

Breakfast: cereal, corn muffins ($2.00)
lunch: clean out fridge day ($0)
dinner: ham, potatoes, green beans ($4.00)

Freebies: Go to to get a bottle of Downy. You fill out a short survey. Go to and sign up for membership. I filled out a quick survey and got a free subscription to Forbes. Rewards change frequently.

Rite Aid has 2 freebies this week: AMO Complete Multipurpose Contact Cleaner and Orajel Kid's Plaque Revealing Rinse. This is with their Single Check program, find a copy of the booklet near the entrance.

Family Video offers free kid video rentals for every A on their report card. This is for the month of June only. My kids will rack up tonight. Family Video has the best chain prices...Redbox has great deals on new releases for $1 a night. The best part is, you can return them to ANY Redbox location. You can sign up online and reserve copies also. Of course, the very best deal is free rentals at the library, followed by 50 cent yard sale VHS tapes. Amass a gargantuan collection...

Money out:$20
Money in:$0

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Words of Wisdom from a 90 year old

I 've been thinking that Iwould take Sundays off...but this was too good not to share: Enjoy!

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, > > Cleveland , Ohio> >> > "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."> >> > My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more: 1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good. >>>>2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.> >> > 3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.> >> > 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.> >> > 5. Pay off your credit cards every month.> >> > 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.> >> > 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone. 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.> >> > 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.> >> > 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.> >> > 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.> >> > 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.> >> > 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.> >> > 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.> >> > 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.> >> > 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.> >> > 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.> >> > 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.> >> > 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.> >> > 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.> >> > 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.> >> > 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.> >> > 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.> >> > 24. The most important sex organ is the brain.> >> > 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.> >> > 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'> >> > 27. Always choose life.> >> > 28. Forgive everyone for everything.> >> > 29. What other people think of you is none of your business.> >> > 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.> >> > 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.> >> > 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.> >> > 33. Believe in miracles.> >> > 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.> >> > 35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.> >> > 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.> >> > 37. Your children get only one childhood.> >> > 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.> >> > 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.> >> > 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.> >> > 41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.> >> > 42. The best is yet to come.> >> > 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.> >> > 44. Yield.> >> > 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

yardsales, ebay and what constitutes a gift?

Ahh, the joys of using the neighbor's clothesline! These are my towels...that's my neighbor's house. The clothesline is basically on the property line...when we moved in 4 years ago, she told me she was thinking of removing it. I told her I would buy it and move it over a stayed in the same place but I use it more than she does. I'm a little weird...I really don't like towels dried in the drier. I feel like they don't absorb at of my many quirks.

So, the loot from yard sales this am? Glad you asked! Kinda slim today, daughter was banging on my bedroom door at 7 wanting to know when we were leaving. Told you they love to go!

Men's Tuxedo $5.00 (this is for the future formals my boys will attend. why rent?)

Men's winter boots $3.00

Gallon name brand cleaner for my Bissell $3.00 (sells for $30ish)

11 gorgeous, like-new baby outfits for a friend and for my nephew $4.00

2 polo shirts for my son $3.00

A really cool silk tie with tree frogs for my son $1.00

Then I came home and listed several items on ebay. I haven't been working much (long story) and I need some cash...I'll let you know how it goes.

My husband has been landscaping all day. I bought him a Black and Decker hedge trimmer for his birthday last week. Speaking of which, whoever came up with the completely lame rule that gifts (at least for women) aren't supposed to have a cord attached? In other words, just give useless, brainless, fluff that will be sold at a yard sale the next year. What's up with that? Remember how excited Ma Ingalls was when Pa brought her a piece of glass for her window? When did it become a bad thing to give somebody something they need? When we became too rich as a culture to actually have needs anymore?

Coming up: 50% off at Carolina Thrift tomorrow, double coupons to a $2 at KMart this week.

Money In $0

Money out: $66.00 (yardsale and Home Depot-home stuff)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Picnic for 20 for under $45.00

"Show hospitality..."

Tonight we are having a picnic for our neighbors (this is a picture from last summer in Maine, but you get the idea)...not all of them, but 20 or so, including us. I'm pretty low key when it comes to entertaining. I don't do it to impress people and if that's why they show up, then they're sure to be sorely disappointed! I vacuum and clean the bathrooms and that's about it cleaning wise. My sister once told me that secret is to always entertain in the evening and use candles...saves time cleaning!!

Anywho...the menu is burgers, dogs, coleslaw, chips, lemonade and tea...and whatever the neighbors show up with. It works out well and no one leaves hungry. Sometimes I throw in a pasta salad or potato salad...a five pound bag of red taters and a dozen eggs makes enough salad to feed an army. I always have ice cream sandwiches for dessert...they're cheap, everyone likes them and there's no preparation.
Got that free donut at Kripsy Kreme today....then ran 2 miles in an attempt to get rid of it. Going yardsaling in the morning, I'll let you know the loot I get...

Think about ways to be hospitable this summer...forget about what people think and just do it!!
Coming up: Carolina Thrift 50% off Monday, Free ice cream at Friendly's Restaurant tomorrow
Money in:$100 (reimbursement for something I bought for someone else)
Money out: $5.86 (movie rentals)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

uhaul hitches, Debeen Espresso shop

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good." CS Lewis

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to write these blogs...any input from you all would be welcome. I just want to help people save money, something I am passionate about doing. Please feel free to leave comments that will help us all save...

This morning I met some friends to give up the key to our Maine cabin...they won it in a fundraiser auction for our school. We decided to meet at DeBeen Espresso on the corner of Lexington and Westchester in High Point. This is really the best AND most reasonably priced coffee shop in town. You can get a small regular coffee for $1.55 and refill it as much as you want while you are there. You can also come back during the day and refill for 25 cents. Take that, Starbucks!!!! It's good coffee too. Then there's this cool little gift shop connected to the "sitting" area. You'll love it!! Eclectic ambiance and all.

So then, I have to get a hitch put on my van and I call the Honda dealer...over $700.00 all told, he tells me. SAME service at UHaul? $268.00 for hitch, wiring, ball, labor and lifetime warrantee. Amazing!! Check UHaul first!
I also listed some tube feeding I had (left over from when Abby was using it) for free on Craig's List. I had a taker within 20 minutes. (this is the same tube feeding I was charged $240.00 for...see yesterday's blog)

breakfast: sausage links, eggs, toast ($2.50)
lunch: tomato soup, grilled ham and cheese ($3.50)
dinner: beef (actually free venison)stroganoff on noodles, broccoli ($2.00)
Coming up: Free scoop of ice cream at Friendly's restaurant on Saturday June 6 from 12-5
Free donut day at Krispy Kreme on 6/5, no purchase required
Free donut with drink purchase at Dunkin Donuts 6/5
Double coupons to $2 at Kmart June 7-13, some sources say limit of 10, others 75
Carolina Thrift 50% off most items Monday 6/8

Money out: $268 (uhaul)
Money in: $0

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

remodeling bathroom, Aldi and refugee families

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." Psalm 25:14

7:00 the "normal" summer am routine: unload dishwasher, make breakfast, decide on lunch and dinner meals, all of that, and vacuum and dust LR, pick bouquet of blue hydrangeas (Beautiful!)

7:30 breakfast with everyone: homebaked blueberry muffins ($2 whole meal)

8:30 run two miles (in my $1 yard sale New Balance!!), shower, devos, clean

10:00 taped interview for News 2 (airing tomorrow at 7ish) at our home promoting book, kids go play in the creek (country kids in the city..actually, they were avoiding the TV camera!)

11:00 kids tear out tile (this took 3 boys 20 minutes and the whole BR was labor!!), I answer emails, set up appts, pay bills: hospital stuff-$120.25, youth trip-$75, also called and asked about a bill for cans of tube feeding that I told them I returned...and wonder of wonders, they told me they would credit my account and to ignore the bill ($240.00), it pays to ask!

12:00 lunch, (Mike rides his bike home from school in the summer for lunch): chicken nuggets, fries, strawberries, lemonade ($5.50)

1:00 trip to Aldi....the BEST grocer...(I won't list all I buy, just highlights)who can beat milk for $1.75 gallon, eggs for 79 cents, hamburg buns 79 cents? total $22.51, then to Carolina Thrift where I found the book The Tapestry by Edith Schaeffer for $1.59. I've been looking for it for 20 years...I kid you not!! On to Cloverleaf, my favorite Mom and Pop shop...Boneless skinless chicken breasts 1.48 # this week, peanut butter $1 a jar, OJ $1 for 64 oz $17.35. OK weird thing happens in the parking lot...I'm taking a picture of the store and this man asks if I'll take a picture of him with is car and send it to him. He's a cute little I take his name and address and I'll send them tomorrow...don't ask me why. It seemed like a nice thing to do.

5:30 took Abby to youth group meeting, dropped 2 bags of clothes off at our Burmese friends, the Thak Bals. Want to be humbled? Spend time with a refuge family who came to America to escape persecution for their Christian faith. They gave us mint, lettuce and green beans from their humble garden.
6:30 Mike and I went to Chili's for a date night...using a gift date! Will spend the evening reading.
Money today:
Out: $236.70
In: $0
Coming up: Carolina Thrift 50% off most stuff Monday 6/8, free donuts at Krispy Kreme Friday 6/5

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

stinky dogs and AC settings

"The whole of our life inside and out is to be absolutely haunted by the presence of God." Oswald Chambers

OK, I've decided to just tell you what my days look like at the Cliff house, and fill you in on the money savers as I go along...we'll see how it goes. Obviously, I can't hit it all, but will give you the highlights.

6:15 am Fox 8 live interview for book (about our car wreck)Kids made own breakfast, eggs, cold cereal or toast

8:00 Abby appointment with prosthodonist (she wears a partial plate as a result of our car wreck) No $ out as this was a follow-up

8:30 sausage and egg biscuits from Mickey Ds 2 for $2...treat for my daughter who has been through so much with those old choppers. Her favorite food in the whole world is biscuits!

9:00 dropped off meal for family of 11 from our church who just had a new baby(9th kid) I made White Chicken Chili (yummm) and added snack cakes, tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream and milk

10:00 one load of clothes on the clothes line, picked lettuce from our little garden for lunch
cleaned everything out of bathroom so my husband can start gutting it tonight for a remodel

11:00 walked to library with all the kids. Spent a glorious hour reading all the magazines I'm too cheap to buy (Forbes, Money, Martha Stewart, Country Living) and let the kids spend their weekly hour on the internet (yes, we have access at home, but they are only allowed on for school related projects and occassional other things)

12:00 lunch: tortilla rollups, strawberries we picked at the farm and pretzels($3.00 whole meal)

Afternoon: cleaning, answering emails, organizing school clothes for next year, bathed the dog (Use lavender baby shampoo, works great. If you have a smelly dog, after the bath and when still damp, spray them with a combination of hand lotion with lanolin-mine came from Dollar Tree-, Listerine and H20. Mix them in equal proportions and spritz on with cheap spray bottle. Also, along that line, I increased our dog's Benadryl for allergies from 25 to 50mg and his dandruff and scratching is so much better!) Kids were painting, reading, practicing instruments, riding bikes. We turned on the AC for the first time this year, when the outside temp got yo 90. We set it at 80. (In winter, the heat is set on 68)

4:30 Mike's home, some down time, then supper of whole wheat linguini and clams, salad, strawberries and cream ($4.50 for whole meal)

Evening: Mike and I walk almost every evening for at least 30 minutes, usually an hour, kids were playing with neighbor kids on their trampoline (he who has the biggest toys gets the kids) Then Mike started gutting the bath...boys will get to rip the tile off the walls out!!
Later evening: movie from my collection of yard sale finds...much cheaper than a night out!
We watched A Good Year, one of my favorites. In bed by 11.
Money out: $2 for biscuits
Money in :$100 check from a patient I had over 10 years ago who saw our story in the paper and just wanted to do something nice for his favorite nurse. Isn't that sweet?!!
$4.29 rebate check for cereal
In $104.29
Out $2.00

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Malls vs Yardsales and b'day wishes!!

Happy 14th Birthday to my oldest boy, Will, seen here jumping into Dobsis Lake. It's also my husband, Mike's, 46th birthday!!! I love you guys!
So here's my question of the day. Why does anyone buy anything at a mall? Yesterday being the first day of vacation, I took my kids to the mall at their request. I bought one book on the bargain table for a buck, knowing I'd probably find it at a yardsale for 25 cents. My 15 year old daughter was with me, happily she doesn't like to shop either.
I've yardsaled nearly every Saturday morning from March to November for 17 years. I estimate 75% of what we own is preused. There are so many options now: yardsales, thrift stores, ebay...if you want it, someone is selling it. Some purchases today:
Like new New Balance running shoes $1
New Camo hoodie $1
2 like new bed pillows for 50 cents each
1 pair mens black dress shoes $2
1 pair converse $2
Aquarium with filter and all accessories $10
Boys suit $3
You do the math. I saved well over $150.00. I always bring one kid with me. They would prefer a day yardsaling over the mall...ask them. It teaches them sticker shock.
Oh, and we did go to the army navy surplus of my boys favorite places. Will bought a sword for $20 and Lee bought a machete for $5. (We like "manly" toys!) Can't beat those prices.
So tell me, why does one go to the mall? I was bored silly...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last day of school & vacation savings

Yes, the day has arrived. I pick the kids up at 11:30 and we're done for the year. If Abby didn't have a conference in mid-June, I think I would head up to Maine tonight! I mean...look at this shot...Maine is just a beautiful state. June 21 and I will be there.
We always go to Maine in the summer and Michigan in December, so our vacations are built around family. We are actually taking the kids to Montreal and Quebec City this summer in a round about way to Maine. Mike took me to Quebec for my 40th last year and it was incredible...very European without the price tag. Speaking of which...I used a credit card to pay for our medical bills(which I paid off) to earn "rewards," which for me translated into four free hotel nights in Canada. How sweet is that?! We basically only have to pay for the gas to get there. Will be scoping on food deals and such over the next couple weeks. I suggest if you are going on a long vacation to one area that you buy an entertainment coupon bbok. You can get them online and they are worth it for savings on attractions and food.
Last year went to Florida. I prepared for months in advance...we saved post...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Frugal author sells book for $20.00!!!

Yes, it's true. I am an author of a self-published book and I am selling it for $20.00. I would never pay that much for a paperback!! There is a reason for my madness, however. I decided to self-publish, which means I pay the costs up front, and I decided to sell through Amazon, simply because I think it would be a neat thing to make it into their top 100 list. Amazon takes 55%. I also really want to give a significant amount to several ministries...hence the price. I'll probably sell some copies on my own for less after I figure out all the paperwork. If you are interested, type Love, Blessings and Seatbelts into the search engine on Amazon and my book will pop up. I have a crazy goal to sell 5000 copies over two days, May 28 and 29.

On December 23, 2008, our family was involved in a horrific car accident near Cleveland, Ohio while we were going to visit family over the holidays. All four kids were in the PICU on Christmas day. The book is a compilation of all the emails I sent and the encouragement we received from all over the world. I'm hoping it will be an ray of hope for others facing similar situations.

And the money saver for the day....Harris Teeter is tripling coupons to .99 this week...woo hoo! Rack up on some free stuff. I just spent $22 and saved $47. That's when I can sing "my Harris Teeter!"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The cheapest way to lose weight...

Everyone knows that diet products are a billion dollar industry...but I'm telling you, you can do it for free! No special foods, no pills, no gym memberships, no fancy clothes...yup, I have THE ANSWER! Here it is...quit eating so much and exercise more. I know, you are shocked at my logic and could never have thought about it on your own, so just remember, you read it here first. Actually, with my approach, you will SAVE money because you won't be spending so much on food. So, with your doctor's permission, try this. Women, eat 1000 calories a day, men, 1500, then throw on your sneakers and start walking or jogging...or using that exercise equipment that's in your basement. I can almost guarantee you'll drop the pounds. You can also eat anything you want, just in smaller quantities. Try it!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today my husband and I walked through a cemetary down here in High Point, North Carolina. We took some time to look at the stones of men who died in various wars and some other ones as well. I didn't know anyone, but that's really not the point.I am always grateful when I think about the sacrifices so many have made on my behalf. It was a huge cemetary, and there was only one other gentlemen there. He was crying, tipping a bottle and talking out loud to one of the stones...his daddy's I would guess. And therein is the reality of this age...death. Yet the reality of what is... is GOD. (Thanks Doc Martin, I was listening, and I remember you today also.) So to all who paid the ultimate sacrifice, thank you. Some of us do remember.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

working to pay to work....what do I value?

Yesterday I worked. As in, my "real" job as an RN. I only work prn (which is medical speak for "as needed;" I fill in for other people. I don't get paid time off or any other benefits, but I have a lot of freedom and can usually find hours if I need them. Currently I'm only working a day or two a week. It pays the bills. I'm sure I could get in full time, but it's not that important to me right now. (Long story...)

I was thinking about how I save money with my job....first of all, we wear uniforms. I have three that are all about 5-8 years old which were purchased at discount scrub shops. That's all I need. I have always worn Reebok walking shoes and wait until they are on sale for $39 or less. I use the same pair for 4-5 years. (I can do this because I wear them exclusively for work). But I found a pair of white Danskins on sale at Wal Mart for $11 a couple weeks ago, and you know what? They are SOOOO comfortable. Decent savings there.

I walk to work, even if it's raining. Granted, I only live 3 blocks away, but I would walk much farther than that if I had to. Besides the savings, it's good exercise. When I was pregnant with my first child and I was going to nursing school full time, I still worked part time as a nursing assistant. I rode my bike 3 miles one way to the hospital in the dead of summer 6 months pregnant. It IS possible....

I take my lunch to work with me. The hospital where I work has a sneaky little program that allows us to use our employee badge to pay for meals, and then the money is deducted from our check. Initially, I signed up for this, but found it was way too easy to spend more money at the cafeteria than I I had them take my name off the list. Now I can't use it anymore and that forces me to bring my lunch. You'd be surprised how much that saves. When I worked full time (3 twelve hour shifts) I would easily spend at least $5 a day x 3 day =$15 a week or $60 a month or $720 a year. See how that works? Now I bring leftovers and that is usually less that $1 a day.

My job has evolved with my family. I know there are lots of opinions on the subject, but for us, a Christian education is a priority, be it homeschool or Christian school, so I have had to work around that. When my husband was teaching at another Christian school, we couldn't afford the tuition, so I homeschooled and worked weekends. Then he went to a school that had no benefits but the kids went tuition free and I worked full time so we would have health insurance. Now he is a HS Principal and has benefits for the family, so I am back to part time work. If you think you could never homeschool or afford private education....there is most likely a way. I know many families that have given up a second income to homeschool their kids. Some even have sold homes and moved into apartments. Yes, they live on less and cut lots of corners financially, but it is worth it to them. I remember reading an article once by a man who was bemoaning having to take his daughter out of a private school he just loved because they simply could not afford it. The next week his article was about a lavish vacation to Florida that I'm sure cost more than the year's tuition. We pay for what we value.

What do you value? What does God value? Where can you cut costs on job related expenses?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is what I wanted?

Funny thing happened today...I set up a blog, and a website, and I even signed up for ad sense and I'm not even sure how it works. Figure I might as well go for the gusto. I woke up this morning, got my kids (4 of my own and one foreign exchange student) and my husband (who happens to be the HS Principal at the school my kids attend) out the door. I checked my email, I checked my VRBO listing, I checked the status on my soon-to-be-self-published-book (it's at the printers...a month out from being complete). I took my dog to the vet and paid $163.00 so the vet could tell me that he has allergies that can't be cured and I forgot and used my debit card instead of my credit card and now I only have about $50.00 in my checking account to last for two days. That really shouldn't be a problem except that sometimes my DH uses it and I need to remind him not to use it. I thought about something I read recently: "You can't drive a parked car." That's what I've been doing. Sitting in a parked car asking God to move it. I hadn't even turned on the ignition. I want to be a writer. I love to write. I'm just not very good at it. But I can get better! So, today I turned the key and I started to drive. I can always turn around and go another direction if I need to. But I will drive.