Monday, February 23, 2009

Finally used up some ECBs!

I know it sounds crazy, but I'm so happy I finally made a dent in my ECB stash! I actually used up $19 worth of them, can you believe it?? And really, $19 for all THIS is a great deal in my book.
The Gamer razor, CVS antacids, and energy drink were all free. The Stayfree were money-makers ($3.99 each, used BOGO free MQ, $1 MQ, and $2 CVS Q, then got back $4 ECBs). The Post Trail Mix cereals were on sale BOGO free, and I used a $2 MQ for each, making them about $0.40 each. The 12-packs were $2.25 each after ECBs. (Since I got the last two 7ups they had, the manager kindly offered to substitute another brand to get the deal!) The Ziplocs were $1.75 each after sale and MQ. And I got the pistachios and ClearCare just because we like them and they were on sale.

Oops, I just realized the best part got left out of the picture...Another huge box of Valentine's chocolates! I was just $2 shy of being able to use a high-dollar ECB, so Lance ran to the candy clearance and got the perfect "filler." : )

I was still about $0.22 short, but I decided to have the cashier just adjust the ECB down. Turns out, he didn't have to! Apparently the register will take up to a 22 cent deficit without beeping! That 22 cents went towards tax. Sweeeeeeet.

I know it's crazy, seeing as how I try so hard to MAKE money on my CVS trips, but I am truly glad to have whittled down the stash for now. It's so hard to keep rolling all those ECBs every month. I'm happy with spending them on things we use for a really good price. And really, when all is said and done, only $1.18 in cash was spent on all this stuff. Pretty good.

America's binge/purge

I will admit that I rarely watch the news. Lately it's been too depressing. But one thing I noticed as I listened to the news for about ten minutes tonight is that this "economic crisis" is bringing about some much-needed introspection.

Our country saw much prosperity over the last decade or two. We were living high on the hog and spending more than we had. Our deficit was growing exponentially, but no one seemed to care...We had it all!

And then that first domino fell.

What started out as a rumor of recession has finally hit America. Hard. So many people are affected, and it's heart-breaking to hear their stories. A few bad choices by some are causing strife for many.

But there's a silver lining, albeit tiny: People are starting to take a good hard look at the way money is spent in our country. State governments are looking for creative ways to cut overhead costs in order to save jobs. (Turning off the light bulbs in vending machines in state buildings could save $1 million over the year!) Companies are getting creative as well. The Tennessean newspaper is asking each employee to take one week of unpaid leave this year, which will save the jobs of several people.

It's rough. For all of us. But I feel some hope that because of all this our country will reevaluate its spending and come out on the other side much stronger, healthier, and wiser. We've been gorging ourselves for long enough. It's finally time to start that diet we've been talking about.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I can't stay away. Not when there's discount candy to be had.

"My" CVS only had their Valentine's Day candy for half off. Hmph. Well, I guess I can't complain...I still got it free.

Here's how today's transaction went:
  • Two $2.99 Colgate Total, get $2.99 ECB each
  • Two $3.50 clearanced Mylanta, get $3 ECB each
  • Two $4.99 J&J First aid 5-ct boxes, get $3 ECB each
  • $2.49 (!!!!) box of small envelopes
  • $4.99 box of chocolates
  • $0.88 Pixie Stix filler

Sub-total = $31.32. Used these coupons:

  • $5 off $30 purchase (thank you, machine!)
  • Two $1 Colgate MQ
  • Two $2 Mylanta MQ (printed from Mylanta website)
  • Two $2 J&J MQ (peelies)

Sub-total = $16.32. Paid with a $6 ECB, a $9.98 ECB, and put $1.30 on my gift card. Got back $17.98 in ECBs, making a profit of $0.70. ($17.98 ECBs earned - $15.98 ECBs spent - $1.30 cash spent) Not bad!

Lance had requested the envelopes. Can you believe they were $2.49?? Crazy! But, hey...It's something we needed. And I have to spend my ECBs on something eventually. It's still rough to pay so much for simple envelopes.

Hope everyone had a good Monday!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finally some decent profit at CVS!

(I say that with such entitlement, ha.)

But in all seriousness, I had been a bit discouraged as of late. The deals were few and the stock sparse these past few weeks. And the Gamer Fusion razor? Fugetaboutit. Nary a one to be found.

But I managed to still make a good run today, ending up with a profit of $8.34 when all was said and done. Per usual, I relied on my trusty $10/$50 purchase coupon and my diabetes monitor filler.

Here's the rundown:
  • $0.73 worth of Valentine candy, 90% off (most to give away)
  • Two $2.99 Colgate Total Advanced, get $2.99 ECB each
  • Two $2.99 Herbal Essences, get $2 ECB
  • $4.99 Gillette shampoo (for Daddy, since Lance obviously can't use it!)
  • $7.99 Earinse, get $7.99 ECB
  • Two $3.99 Stayfree pads, get $2 ECB each
  • $19.99 One Touch Mini (for donation to missions)

Sub-total came to $53.64. Used these coupons:

  • $10 off $50 purchase
  • $19.99 off One Touch Mini
  • Two $1 off Colgate Total Advance from recent insert
  • $3 off 2 Herbal Essences from recent PG insert
  • $2 off Gillette Shampoo from recent PG insert
  • BOGO free Stayfree coupon from recent insert
  • $1 off Stayfree printable Mfr. coupon

That brought the sub-total down to $11.66, and I paid with a $7.58 ECB and a $3.99 ECB. Sub-total = $0.09! Of course, tax was outrageous ($2.97, ouch). I paid the remaining $3.06 using a CVS gift card. I walked out with $22.97 more in ECBs, thus I made a profit of $8.34 ($22.97 ECBs earned minus $11.57 ECBs spent minus $3.06 cash spent).

CVS, I heart you. : )

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nothing says love... sitting patiently in the car while your wife makes a "quick stop" at Walgreens. : )

My husband is very sweet. And patient. Because, as we all know, a "quick stop" is rarely quick.

Here's what I snagged though:

After I get back the EasySaver rebates on the Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, contact solution, and vent freshener, I will have only spent a few cents out of pocket, all of which is tax.

I read on a forum that the vent freshener is a raincheck EasySaver item from last month. I will get a full Wags EasySaver rebate on it ($4.99) and then send it off for a full manufacturer's rebate. When that comes in, I will have made almost $5 on this transaction!

So far I've been happy with the EasySaver program. I mostly just get the free items each month and keep rolling the amount on my gift card. It has been growing, too, due to the coupons used on free items. Eventually I'll spend it on something, but until then I'm happy to collect the freebies and save the overage for a rainy day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The last squirt

There is something extremely satisfying about squeezing that last bit of toothpaste from a completely spent tube.

Perhaps it's the sweet memory of having gotten the tube for free at CVS. I have to admit that that makes me smile.

But I think it's more the thought that I have gone the extra mile and squeezed every last molecule of toothpaste out of that tube, whereas anyone else would have thrown it away days ago. This may seem extreme to others, almost militant.

Why make that extra effort? Because I am the product of a family with strong memories of the Great Depression and the Irish potato famine. Frugality runs deep. Our motto has always been: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Today's society is obsessed with excess and disposability. But I stand grounded in my thrifty upbringing. I will continue to squeeze on flat toothpaste tubes to the day I die. And I will be happy. : )

Monday, February 9, 2009

The best granite cleaner

Before beginning our kitchen renovations last summer, I had made up my mind to get new countertops made of composite quartz. I had done my research, picked out my color, and was ready to go.

That is, until I was told that the color I had fallen in love with was not going to be available for a long time. Ack! Not a fun surprise when you're knee-deep in construction dust.

Our countertop guy asked if I had ever considered granite. I admitted to him that I was turned off by the upkeep I'd heard about, but he shared with me his own experiences with granite and assured me that the once-a-year sealing process was a piece of cake.

Well, all it took was one trip to the slab warehouse, and I was SOLD! All that beautiful, glittering granite just mesmorized me. I picked out two slabs of my very own that day. Gorgeous chocolate brown, flecked with charcoal, pink, and iridescent pearl. So lovely!

When it was installed, I was in heaven. I caressed the smooth, shiny surfaces and whispered sweet promises of loving care. Then I realized I didn't KNOW anything about daily granite care! Yikes!

Google to the rescue. I researched the dos and don'ts of cleaning granite. I learned that the pH of the cleaner is very important for maintaining the seal, thus ammonia- and vinegar-based was not an option. (Alas, poor Windex had to be banished from the kitchen!)

The solution? Rubbing alcohol! Something I had never considered before. I grabbed an old empty Windex bottle, rinsed it out well, and added to it 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol, then filled it almost to the top with tap water. I added about five drops of dishwashing liquid, then capped it and swirled it together. Behold, a cheap and nontoxic granite cleaner!

I have used this cleaner on a daily basis for about nine months. I liberally squirt the counters and the glass top of the stove, and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. The alcohol sterilized the counter, the dishwashing liquid helps break down any stubborn food particles, and the microfiber cloth buffs the counter to a beautiful sheen. It's wonderful! I save a lot of money this way, and my countertops are happy as can be.

Happy Monday to everyone!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

If only a picture could capture an aroma...

I guess you'll have to use your imagination.

I had a huge bag of mini carrots to use up, so I decided to try my hand at apple carrot muffins. (You can see the original recipe by clicking here.)

As most cooks do, I tweaked the recipe to my tastes. I used only 1/3 cup of white sugar and used 1/3 cup of honey. I separated the eggs and whipped the whites to make the batter fluffier. (Because I've seen many of these muffin recipes come out too dense.) And lastly I added raisins.

The recipe says it makes 12 muffins, but even after filling the cups all the way I still had enough for probably two more! So I put the remaining batter into a cute pink heart-shaped ramekin to bake separately. I thought it would make a nice breakfast for My Valentine. : )

Well, as you can see, the muffins rose beautifully. And boy did they make the house smell amazing! I could hardly wait to bite into one. The taste was just sweet enough, but not too sweet. Just perfect for a breakfast treat.

What a great way to start the morning!