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