Friday, January 13, 2017

Warehouse Shop

I hadn't planned on going to B.J.'s until I got a notice that my membership was expiring soon. Since B.J.'s is near my bank and we needed cash, I did a B.J's shop on the way home. I have not made up my mind yet as to whether I am going to renew my membership or not.

Here is what I purchased:

25 lbs. of Carolina Rice - $11.49

Glad Quart Size Freezer Bags -$8.99

1 Gallon of Milk - $ 1.79

1 Pepperoncini - $4.99

2 jars of Olives - $8.99

1 Sea Salt Refill - $ 3.99

1 - 4lb. bag of Angus Meatballs - $ 14.49

3 Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon - $ 13.59

2.5lbs. of 93% Lean Ground Turkey - $ 6.99

3 lbs. of Onions - $ 1.59

1- 32 oz. Organic 100% Pure Maple Syrup - $ 10.99

16 Seeded Sandwich Rolls - $ 4.29

Total was $ 92.97 minus 2 B.J.'s coupons that totaled $5.00= $ 87.97 OOP.  I submitted to Ibotta for a $ .25 rebate on the onions and a $ .25 rebate on the milk. 

I always buy 25 lb. bags of rice. I just emptied my last one into my canister about 3 weeks ago so this was needed. I got home to find that the corner of the bag was open just a little bit. I don't think I lost much but I zip tied it as soon as I got home. The freezer bags were 192 for $ 8.99 - $ 2.00 off B.J.'s  coupon so only $ .04 a bag which is a great price for this area. The milk was really cheap. The pepperoncini we use in salads. They, the olives, and the sea salt refill were less than half the price of my market. 

The Angus meatballs are fully cooked and are Hubby's guilty pleasure. He loves them for quick meatball sandwiches on these seeded sandwich rolls that I purchased. Some of those will be put in the freezer. The price for the meatballs is reasonable for 4 lbs. The bacon was $10.59 after B.J.'s coupon which was a pretty good deal for center cut.

When I bought the ground turkey rolls at Top's the other day, Pubbler alerted me to the fact that her warehouse club was cheaper for ground turkey. So I checked and this Perdue ground turkey was only $ 2.80 a lb. for 93% lean. The sale price on the breakfast turkey the other day was $3.00 a lb. and Top's also had the Jennie-O ground turkey on sale for $2.88 a lb. So B.J.'s is cheaper and it is their regular price not sale price. Thanks Pubbler.

The onions were also a great price and not 1/2 rotten as most of my stores seem to sell them.

When I saw the price on the organic maple syrup, I took a double take. I pay about $ 5.00 - $8.00 more for the same amount elsewhere and it is not organic. I had a jug at home but I was not passing this up. 

B.J.'s sells discounted gift cards and 100 ct. packages of Forever stamps. Forever stamps are going up in price from $.47 to $ .49 each on January 22nd. Even though I had about 100 left here in the house, I purchased 100 more for $ 46.75.  One of the gift cards that I never found a deal on at Christmas time was Subway. So I picked up a $ 20.00 one for $ 19.49.

You all know that I have been saving my rebates, bottle cash, etc. for Disney gift cards for my trip in January 2018. I had a little more than $50.00 saved again, so I picked up this $50.00 gift card for $ 47.99. I now have $ 250.00 in gift cards for my spending money and I will continue to save all year.

All in all I think it was a successful trip! The reason I am considering not renewing my membership is that I have so many cheap options for groceries these days like Aldi's, Save- a Lot, Super Walmart and Wegman's which carries some bulk items, Dollar Tree and three market chains. I am going to have to look at all of my receipts for B.J's this past year and then check the prices elsewhere. Then I will decide. Have any of you given up your warehouse club memberships?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Frugal Things We Have Done The Past Few Weeks

                                                                                                   
These are the frugal things we have done the past two weeks:

- Bagged all of our garbage from our wastebaskets for our weekly pickup in the outside wrappers from bulk toilet paper packages. This enabled us to only use one tall kitchen garbage bag a week from our kitchen.

- Received $11.00 in rebates in the mail. This money went into my Disney spending money fund to buy Disney gift cards.

- Took bottles back twice and got a total of $3.30. This also goes into my Disney fund.

- Ordered a Free Gillette razor.

- Received Hubby's jury duty check which we deposited into our high interest savings account. Filed the info away for 2016 taxes.

- Made a semi homemade pizza every week these past few weeks using store purchased dough for $ 2.69, one small can of tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, pepperoni, diced onion, sliced black olives and lots of mozzarella cheese. The whole pizza cost me under $ 4.50 which is much cheaper than buying the frozen one that we like and a lot less than $20.00 for one ordered out. Besides any pizza that we have ordered out in the past two years has been awful. My pizza feeds us two meals plus a lunch. $ 1.50 per meal for good pizza is a bargain for us. Aj makes a great pizza dough which I am dying to try. She is moving so when she has time to dig it out I will be most grateful. I thought I had it but I don't.

- When we make bacon/sausage and eggs for breakfast which is weekly, I always cook the entire package of meat. Then I package the leftover meat into portions and freeze it for the next few times we need it. Just putting it in the microwave for a few seconds reheats it. This saves me from using so much natural gas.

- We buy big containers of oatmeal for breakfasts most of the time. Just 1/2 cup of oats, some raisins and brown sugar and boiling water makes a delicious breakfast. 

- Took my books back to the library and got 2 more.

- Washed 6 loads of laundry in the HE's using cold water. Hung them in the basement to dry.

- Received my free Coke Rewards coupon for a 12 pack. I am waiting for a B1G1 free sale to use it. I got 10 free 12 packs last year doing that.

- I was going to order a minion cake from my friend's bakery for my grandson's birthday which we are celebrating here soon. When I was told the price, I just about choked. So I thought about it and decided that he will love his birthday gifts so much that he won't care what kind of cake he has. So I will make him a cake and save many dollars. My cake will cost about $3.00 including the sprinkles and age 7 candle.

- Got $6.25 in rebates from Ibotta

- Got $3.50 in rebates from Checkout 51

- Got $ 7.50 in rebates from Saving Star

- Received some free samples at Rite Aid on Senior Citizen discount day.

- Made sure to grocery shop at Top's on senior citizen discount day to get my 6% off.

- I have been using my laptop as often as possible instead of the big PC saving me on electricity.

- Friends of ours stopped in one afternoon for tea. I made a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting to serve with it. This is what was left after they went home.

- Our outside grill got blown over in the windstorm the night before last. Hubby and I went out in the freezing weather to put it upright and to see the damage. A door had come off and the the grills all came out when it crashed but Hubby was able to put it back together. The only permanent damage was a ding in it. Fortunately we had taken the propane gas tank out and stored that in the shed. I am still amazed that it went over. It had huge, very heavy patio blocks in it to keep it from going over. 

- We continue to save on electric and natural gas as much as we know how. Hubby has turned the heat up to 71 - 72 to keep him from freezing so I expect the January bill will be huge. I am grateful that we have heat. 

- We have been making smoothies a lot for breakfast using fruits that we froze the last two summers. I am trying to use some of them up. 

- Received $ 7.51 in rewards from one credit card

- Received my $100. cashback applied to current credit card bill which helped defray Christmas expenses.

- Filled the car up with gasoline using my $ .60 off per gallon Top's points.

- We have been meal planning and pretty much eating from the freezer to keep the grocery bill down.

Did any of you doing anything frugal these past two weeks? Please share with us in comments.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Keeping Me Organized

For the past 23 years I have used a Franklin Planner to keep me organized. But the price for the annual pages has gone up over the years. When I went to purchase it this year, the price had gone up to $30.95 plus I would have to pay for shipping. So I started researching for a new planner that would be cheaper and work well for me. I know I can do all of this online and I do keep an online calendar. However I like the feel of having a planner in my hands, writing in it, and quickly looking at it during the day to make sure all of my tasks are done.

So I ordered the pictured planner from Amazon for $14.99 even though it was on back order. I was so excited when it arrived on Monday. I think I am going to like it very much.

What attracted me to it at first was the weekly layout and the fact that it also had a place for my menu plan everyday. In the left hand corner, it has plenty of room to write down my tasks for the week. I can add to it as I want during the week. If I need more room there is another whole section for writing longer lists of tasks.

When it arrived, I had already made my grocery list but I have started one for next week. There is another section of just grocery lists. As I think of something, I just write it down there. Then on grocery day, I can just tear out the perforated list to take with me. 

This planner also has a yearly section with a 2017 and 2018 calendar and a place to write down events to remember like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. There is a monthly calendar to jot down appointment reminders. There is another section to write down projects and make notes on how you will accomplish them.

There is also an address book. Besides that the first page in the planner gives you a place to write down important telephone numbers that you might use all of the time.

I will let you know how I like this planner after I have used it a few months. If it works out as well as I think it will, I will buy one next year.

I have to apologize for the pictures. It is 3:30am here as I write this and I only have one light on. It's dark in here. We are having horrible winds that are gusting to over 60 miles an hour. The noise is so bad that I can't sleep so I have been up since 1:40am. I heard a loud crash not too long ago so I will have to investigate when it gets light out later today. I think it may be our grill. But I am probably up for the duration the winds are supposed to last till at least 7am.  

I have laundry to do today and prescriptions to pick up at the drug store. Besides those things I will be working again in my kitchen.

I am curious to know if you have a favorite planner that you use. Please feel free to share it in comments.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Grocery Haul and Menu Plan

Yesterday was my grocery shopping day. For those who haven't noticed, I am only shopping one day a week or less. 

My first stop was Aldi's where I purchased:

2 bags of tortilla chips - $ 1.19 ea.
Celery - $ 1.49
Romaine Hearts - $ 2.29
1 Large Eggs - $ 1.29
1 Salsa -$ 1.89

The total was $ 9.34. The bread is part of my Top's haul. All items were a need and were cheaper than Top's.

My next stop was Top's where I purchased:

2 loaves of Italian Bread -B1G1F = $3.49
3 Bananas at $ .39 lb. - $ .52 -Ibotta rebate of $ .25
= $.27
.56 lb. of Deli Chicken Breast = $3.91
1 Smithfield Ham Steak - $ 1.84 - Ibotta rebate $ .75
= $1.09
1 SF Cool Whip - $1.99
2 Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cream Cheese - 2/$5.
2 Snickers - $ 1.19 ea. - $.50/1 Dbled Q's - $.19 ea.
2 Ground Turkey - $3. ea. - $ 1./1Q's - $2. ea.
3 Thomas English Muffins -B1G2F- $4.39
1 Cantaloupe -$1.88
1 House of Tsang Stir Fry Sauce - $3.49- $1./1Q and Checkout 51 Rebate of $ 1.00 = $1.49
1 Butterball Turkey Bacon - $1.50 - $1./1= $.50- $.75 Checkout 51 rebate = Moneymaker of $ .25
2 Well Yes Soup - $ 2.50 ea. - $ 1.50/1Q and a $ .50Q Dbled = $ 2.50 for both - $1. Ibotta = $ .75ea.

Total OOP was $32.92. I received a $1.00 off my next shopping order Q and submitted for $ 3.75 in Ibotta and Checkout 51 Rebates.

Last stop was Consumers Beverage where I purchased 3 - 2 liter Diet Cokes for Hubby at $ 1.25 each. The total was $4.20 after tax and bottle deposits.

My total OOP shopping bill was $46.46.

We were out of romaine and celery and we eat a lot of salads. Tortilla chips and salsa were for the stockpile. I always need eggs and these were the best price this week. Until I bake my own bread, this was the cheapest that Hubby will eat. Yes, he is picky. I am hoping to bake my first loaf of bread next week.

I needed the bananas to make banana bread on Sunday for breakfast. My son and grandson will be here and we haven't seen them since Christmas Day. When we left to go home that afternoon, they left for Disney World. They just returned this past Sunday. Two glorious weeks in Disney that we can't wait to hear all about.   

Hubby wanted the chicken for sandwiches for lunch, the SF Cool Whip to put on his SF jello and puddings and the cream cheese for bagels.  We love these ham steaks so at that price I bought one to put in the freezer. The snickers are treats for my grandson.

I am always looking for a good price on ground turkey which I use in place of ground beef. The English muffins were a stockpile item at this low price. We love cantaloupe so this will make a few breakfasts.

Hubby loves this stir fry sauce. This gives me two bottles in the cupboard. Moneymaker on the bacon so I wouldn't pass that up. I rarely buy canned soup but did to try these because the price was great after rebates. They will be good for lunch or with sandwiches for dinner. 

Lastly, Hubby had to have Diet Coke. He has been out for a few days. The cheapest price I could find was $ 1.25 a bottle. The beverage guy told me that prices went up from $ .99 because of gasoline transport charges. I hate paying for colored water. I am still trying to get Hubby to give it up. He doesn't go through it as fast as he used to. He has been drinking a lot more iced tea. I am still looking for a B1G1F deal to use my free 12 pack coupon. Hopefully there will be one with Superbowl deals.

My Menu Plan this week is:

Monday: Ham and Collard Greens
Tuesday: Ham and Veggie Pot Pie, pears
Wednesday: Homemade Pizza, Salad
Thursday: Baked Chicken and Broccoli
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Potatoes, Applesauce and Green Beans
Sunday: Pork Stir Fry with Veggies and Pineapple

Any questions, feel free to ask.     

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Expense Totals And It's Time to Really Cut Costs

The final total of all of our expenses in 2016 was $ 39,457.76. Yikes! We had a very spendy year. This is out of our net income.

I am almost embarrassed to say that we spent about $5467.00 for groceries during the year considering there are only two of us. That is about $ 455.58 a month. It really doesn't sound so bad but then you realize that there were no non-food items in that total such as toilet paper, shampoo, bug spray, bandaids, etc.

We spent another $ 3836. on those items. So the total of just these two categories was $ 9303. That is a bit over 23% of our net income. Just ridiculous, in my estimation.

Our expense total does not include any Federal or State Income taxes. However it does include school and property taxes for the home we live in and for our property in Texas which totaled $ 7809.51. That is another large chunk of our net income. So after these taxes we spent about $ 31,648. on everything else.

We spent a few hundred dollars during the year from our net income on charity. But then we spent another $XXXX.XX from our dividend income(which we don't usually include in our every day income because the majority of it gets reinvested) in a lump sum at the end of the year which we did not show because we want to keep those donations private.  

If you want to see what we spent in the other categories, just look at our monthly expense reports. They are all out there for the year. 

Did you guys track your income, expenses, and savings last year? I hope so. If not you should be tracking every dime since January 1st this year. If you do nothing else, track those expenses because they are an eye opener as to where you need to cut. You can't get a handle on a budget without doing this.

We need to cut our grocery and non food bills this year. So I am making as much from scratch as I can. We are eating from our stockpile as much as possible. We are monitoring our portions. I am learning how to make bread and all kinds of other bakery products from scratch. I have had a bread maker for years. Even though we still will use it in a pinch, I want to learn to do it from scratch. So that is a major project for me this year that I will enjoy. Another major project is to always make sure that I am getting the best price on the non food items that I can by researching the prices again. I always kept a price book but prices are going up again so I need to update that.

We would also like to cut our medical expenses. Our supplemental medical insurance( for the 20% that Medicare doesn't pay) went up another $ 354. this year. Our Medicare also went up and wiped out our miniscule Social Security increase.  We know that there isn't much we can do about some of them but others we can. So we will be working on those.

We spent little over a years time on personal care so there isn't much to cut there.

We also can't cut household maintenance. It could be lower if Hubby could still do most things himself. But we pay for lawn care, and garden and tree maintenance. We also pay for car maintenance. All of these things Hubby did for years but he no longer can or wants to do them. Of course, we could always move to a condo where everything would be taken care of. However, we love our home and the privacy it affords us so this is an expense we are willing to pay for. 

Netflix,our alarm system, cable TV and internet we enjoy so we will not cut them but we could in a pinch.

There isn't much we can do to cut our water and sewer bills. We do not waste water and the sewer bills are set. 

We have pretty much done every thing we can to keep our electric and natural gas bills as low as possible. We will continue to do that. 

Gift expenses are being reduced this year not only to save money but to make sure that our grandchildren aren't spoiled too much. I wrote in a prior post about that.

We have done everything that we can to reduce our auto and homeowners insurance premiums. It is expensive to insure these items in NYS.

We do what we can to reduce our gasoline costs especially by not driving. We will continue to do those things.

Clothing will again be minimal. There isn't much we need. We continue to watch sales when we do.

We cut cut our wine and liquor bill and will work on that.

The gift card deals we got at the end of last year will defray the cost of restaurant and take out this year. We will be going to other restaurants though too. 

So come along this year as we continue to cut costs and show you how we do that. We will be spending as little as possible this year because every dollar counts.