Friday, September 26, 2014

Everything in These Photos for $64.30 AND I Will Sell 3 Items Online for $54.99. Total Cost $9.31. How I Shop:

I shop like this every week. Seriously. And I have done it for years. There is so much stuff and free stuff and more stuff that I have to restrain myself from overbuying. That's not always an easy task.

This week I had to go rent out a storage unit to someone who needed one at one of our facilities, so I shopped in the town I was at.

First, $10.00 for all these bread products! 2 loaves of Sara Lee 100% whole wheat bread, 2 loaves potato bread, one package Wheat Honey bread rolls, one package of Apple Bagels and 4 bags of donuts that we didn't need but I got too tempted and didn't restrain myself. ;) If you have a Holsum or Hostess Bakery outlet near your place, it is worth a stop. Some of this will go into the freezer and some will be used right away but each item was $1.00.

The next items here were from Goodwill. I go to Goodwill quite a bit. I paid $13.97 in total. I love these completely wood stackable tables. I also got a vase, some like new Eddie Bauer Capris and some seeds which I will put into the freezer for next years garden.

Menards again. You may not have a Menards in your area, but there are always stores giving deals. If you keep your eyes open, you will find them. Little lanterns for Christmas gifts, .99 each, battery packs of 16 that I use all the time for my camera, $2.99 each, spray foam for insulating cracks to save MORE money on heating bills, $2.99 a can, microwave popcorn $4.44 and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal for $1.50 each. Total, $35.33. I will be sending in a rebate for some of this. 

Garage sale stuff. This stuff came to $6.25 so I asked the lady if she would take $5.00 and she accepted it. 2 of the CD's have never been opened. I listed those online at competitive prices, one for $13.00 and the other for $22.00 (2 are for me.) The games are for my son and I will list the golf shoes online for $19.99. So, if I sell the items, my total cost for all of this will be $9.31.
Add to that that I rented out a storage unit while I was there so I made money plus I will take mileage for the trip to the storage and back.

I think the key to this kind of shopping is to shop with a very open mind. I don't go looking for specific items usually, I let the items find me, and let the deals find me. I buy when the items are a good deal in front of me, so when I need or want the items, they are already within reach inside my house or garage. I do have some designated space for this so that is very nice. Happy shopping! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Fantastical Freebie Day

Boy did I have fun today! I decided, since I was going to Eau Claire today anyway, to do it up good for my blog, do some cashing in and total blowing of my diet!

Every year or so, kids or churches or whatnot, offer coupon booklets for sale. These are usually very good deals and they help the kids out too. I bought this one early this year:

I have used this coupon book all year long for more local deals. But today, I was going to Eau Claire and I only go there a few times a year. These coupons expire at the end of December, so it was time to use them up! I went through the booklet yesterday. Today, I first got a free frozen yogurt at Frogiyo.

This was a really good frozen yogurt and I enjoyed it thoroughly! I decided since I was going around getting free stuff, it might be nice to put in a link to the businesses who were so good to me. ;)

Then, I drove to get a free 30 minute massage! Yes! Free!

I was able to book online and got a massage from Cassie. They have very nice rooms that have a private bathroom attached!

Then, I drove to Mega Foods and got some free lunch meat and bread. I also got some ripe bananas for smoothies for .39 a lb and 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk on sale for .99.

Then, I went to Milwaukee Burger Company and got the best cheesecurds EVER! Free!!

I ate three of these and then got a box because these were HUGE! There were two left each for my family. I refried these when I got home and they weren't quite as good as fresh but still very tasty. This is more of a sports bar and restaurant. They also sometimes offer 1/2 off deals from the radio station but those go very fast. We have eaten here before and all the food is good.

I swung by K Mart and picked up some things and they had a clearance sale on Fla-vor-ice for $1.49 with a $2.00 rebate. So, I may get paid to get those! I often get some really great deals at K Mart, so I was really sad to see our local one shut down.

It was about time to go home and so I swung by Grizzly's and got a free chicken appetizer to go to take to the Fam. Here is their entryway, it looks really nice. The appetizer was a chicken breast with the wing attached.

These were especially nice when I got home since my son was supposed to cook but had to leave to go rent out a storage unit. So, I heated up the chicken and HUGE cheese curds, added some grapes and leftover mashed potatoes and we had a MEAL!

Tomorrow, I will take the bones from the chicken (that has a scant amount of meat) and make a one cup private soup for myself.

I did have some more free coupons, but I was tired and called it a day. ;) So, aside from some tips for the masseuse and servers, this was a fantastical freebie day.

So, when the kids come with that coupon book , make sure you buy one. ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Leftover Mashed Potatoes! How We Use Them Up

That big pot of mashed potatoes we had for supper last night, we had for leftovers tonight. I still have what's left in the photo above! We will eat the smaller bowl (I put the quarter in there so you can see the size) for leftovers again tomorrow (good thing we love mashed potatoes but that's why I make so much all at once!). On the right, I took some mashed potatoes and formed them into something my Mom used make called "potato pancakes". These are really good. I froze them and will  make them someday with maybe eggs or waffles. This is a great way to use up some leftover mashed potatoes.

I could also use the leftovers on the left to make a dish we fondly call "Gloop-Glop". Yes, we named this dish ourselves! It is a hamburger casserole. First fry up some hamburger (3/4-1 lb), mix with a can of drained green beans and an 8 oz can of tomato sauce. Add some minced garlic.  Put into 8 X 8 inch casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Put mashed potatoes on top and bake. Yum Yum!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Not Just Frugality, but Sustainability: Almost Free Meal and Enough for Leftovers

Okay, please don't get discouraged. Not all of my food blogs will be on foraged, hunted and gardened food, but this one is. One thing I have noticed is that in being frugal, you very often end up helping the environment, without even really trying. Now, you may not be much of an environmentalist and that's okay by me. I'm more frugal than I am environmental. However, even though I started with frugality, I ended up patting myself on the back for being a good citizen and practicing sustainability.

Now, you may not see any importance in sustainability. Many people don't. I didn't either until I read a few books on the subject. Did you know that some say we spend about 10 calories in fossil fuels for every calorie produced? That's an incredible number. And completely non-sustainable. Sometimes when people use the word sustainability, you may envision some tree-huggers living in the woods and having ragged clothes and living in a commune, but we need to all care about this, we all need to care about sustainability. Spending 10 calories in energy for every calorie we consume is ridiculous; just think if you did that personally. You would die in short order. We use fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow. If you have never read on the subject, here is an article that goes over some of it:

Our food is amazingly connected to oil. We plow our fields with tractors which use oil, we transport food with trucks and boats and cars which use oil. Oil is a finite resource. It seems ridiculous that we are trying to squeeze oil now out of shale. Anyway, I said all that to say this: the food in the above picture did use a little oil. My husband tilled the ground with gasoline and I tilled in between rows with a tiller and that took gas. I used no fertilizers or anything like that. I did cook it on an electric stove. So, I don't know how many energy calories this took to grow and cook per calorie produced, but I'd venture to guess it is much better than the 10:1 ratio of the food in the stores. Let's add to that that most of it was fresh picked and cooked this very day, so it is packed with nutrients.

We have clockwise from top left:
1. Garden green beans.
2. Garden mashed potatoes.
3. Vegetable medley from the garden of okra, squash and tomatoes.
4. Venison hunted and processed by my husband and I and Hen of the Woods mushrooms foraged by me.

So, not only was this meal almost free for us (aside from freezer storage for the venison and mushrooms and electricity to cook it and gasoline to till it and butter and spices to cook it in) but it is very sustainable. It is also very nutritious. There are also enough leftovers for lunch for one for the meat and veggies and leftovers for 4 on the potatoes (which I will cook up with something tomorrow night).

So, almost free for us and much, much less costly for the world at large. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How a 2 Room Hotel Room with Jacuzzi, Fireplace and Kitchenette plus 4 Meals plus a Zipline Tour plus a Lynard Skynard Concert and All Gasoline Cost $165.41 Instead of (low)$381.85 or (high)$554.00!

This is my travel folder. Whenever we get ready to go somewhere, I put all the important papers we have in a folder like this, including all coupons and maps to and from places. It is an organized way to save frustration and have the best, most stress-free trip possible.

I have a coupon drawer and I collect various coupons and deals for such a time as this. Then I get them all out and mix and match for the best trip. This was a mini-trip which lasted a day and a half.

I often use Priceline, name your own price for hotels. However, this time, I found a hotel deal through a radio station. It was a 2 room hotel, with a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub. It also had a kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator. This hotel had a pool and hottub and free breakfast as well. I got a special deal for this hotel for $60.00 for this room!

We went out to eat at a nice restaurant. A couple of years ago, I was offered a deal through to buy as many $25.00 coupons as I wanted for $2.00 a piece. These coupons could be exchanged for different restaurants and never expired so i bought about $40.00 worth. My husband and I have been enjoying these coupons for 2 years now and have eaten at many nice restautants! With these, you have to spend $35.00 at the restaurant and give an 18% gratuity (which the servers love!). My husband got a Walleye Dinner with a root beer and a banana cream pie and I got a Spinach Salad with creme soda and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. We sat outside next to the lake and a fire which was really very nice! This dinner including gratuity cost us $27.69. We could have spent that elsewhere and got a lesser meal but this was a very, very nice dinner (although I must admit, I thought the salad was small.) We dug into the pie before I forgot to take photos!

We had a nice breakfast for free at the hotel and it was very good for a hotel breakfast. In my calculations, I figured this as free for the medium sized number above too but if we had went out, it would have cost maybe $15.00-$20.00 plus tip.

We drove for a while to get to our next destination and you can't put a price on beautiful Fall scenery!

We decided to eat lunch at good old Micky D's Supper Club (McDonald's). We got what you see in the photo below for $5.76. I had a coupon for McDonalds if you spend $4.00 you can get a free smoothie. We split the fries, smoothie and salad. I also asked for extra pickles and lettuce on the burgers.

Then we went on a Zipline Tour. This was a blast! My husband won free tickets for this Zipline tour by calling into the radio station. These tickets would have cost us $90.00!

We had supper at Dairy Queen. I wasn't very hungry so my husband and I split a shrimp dinner for $6.21. Later on, we got some blizzards and that cost $8.00.

My husband had been wanting to see Lynard Skynard for a few years. I heard they were going to be in the area, only an hour from us and advance tickets were only $20.00! So, I bought 2. Shortly after I bought them a friend said she was probably able to get some for free if anyone wanted any, but these were non-refundable or this blog would be super rather than pretty good! LOL! But I saved $10.00 by buying them in advance. There was the most amazing rainbow right before the show!

My husband drives a Honda Insight which gets 70 MPG! So we traveled 246.2 miles but only spent $12.25 on gas. (The mileage varies..this photo shows 75.6 MPG!)

So all in all, it was a really great time and we only spent $165.41. If we had gotten free tickets to Skynard, it would have been only $125.41. But we could have easy spent much more. I used a conservative estimate of  $381.85.

But we could have easily spent:

Hotel: $139.00
Meal number 1: $45.00
Meal number 2 (breakfast) $20.00
Meal number 3: $20.00
Meal number 4: $40.00
Zip Line $90.00
Lynard Skynard (we have seen tickets for $70.00 a piece) $140.00
Gasoline: $40.00
Food/Drink at Concert $20.00

This is a high estimate for a total of $554.00 for a difference of $338.59. This is a $.19 an hour raise for a years worth of work, tax free!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pennies Pennies, Everywhere! This Time: Using Your Old Bread Crusts

There are truly many pennies everywhere, free for the taking. One way to pick up a few of these pennies is to use your bread crusts instead of throwing them out. I use them for toast for eating with spaghetti or cream of wheat. They don't flop over as easily as regular bread when you put some spaghetti on the bread before biting into it. I also sprinkle cheese on them and bake to eat with soups. When the kids were smaller, I made mini-pizzas and put tomato sauce and cheese on the crusts and baked them.

Here is a link with some ideas for stale bread:

And another:

I also took a photo of the spaghetti we had last night which was a very inexpensive meal. Bread crusts with butter, tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, spaghetti noodles bought on sale, tomato sauce bought on sale (I don't like making my own) with venison my husband hunted and we butchered, squash, some wild and some store bought mushrooms, celery, and a garden tomato. The most expensive thing was the coconut oil I put on the noodles to keep them from sticking together. (Coconut oil is very healthy!)

Pennies add up to dollars, which add up to expendable income which used to pay down debts equal more financial freedom and less stress and worry. And there are pennies, pennies everywhere. ;)

Monday, September 15, 2014

How The Joneses Got Out From Under a Financial Snowball One Coffee or Mountain Dew at a Time!

Debt can be like a snowman. It starts small with a few snowflakes bound together which becomes a snowball. As this snowball rolls around in more snow, it slowly grows, almost imperceptibly. Before you know it, this snowball/debt is big enough for the bottom of a snowman, much larger than a snowball.

The snowball works both ways. People can snowball into debt, but amazingly people can snowball back out of it too. Of course snowballing out of it takes more planning, dedication and work, but people still can snowball right out of debt just as they snowballed into it. The key is managing the debt.

Let's say that a person has a home loan, a car loan, some student loans, and some credit card debt and some medical debt. It's very easy to have debt in all these areas and many people do. It started small, maybe as a car loan and a student loan, then a little credit card debt. Then, a person got married and had a couple of kids and took out a mortgage. Then, they had a couple small medical emergencies and gained some medical debt. Because of this they also got behind on some bills and ended up charging some things and only making the minimum payments for a few months. This is the danger zone where things can spiral out of control. It can easily happen and does to people who really try and keep things under control, but, life happens, and if a person has not truly planned ahead for emergencies, a person can find themselves in a bad state in not too long of a time.

So, this hypothetical person takes their budget and looks  at it hard. How to turn this around?
Providing the person has a regular income, it can be done. A few things to look at are:

1. Any expendable income. People will often say there is no expendable income which is why they are in this fix. They will say this sometimes with a Mountain Dew or Coffee in their hands they bought at the convenience store. What they have in their hand is expendable income. It is unnecessary. So, what a person wants and what a person needs are two different things. So a person needs to take a serious look at this. This is probably the hardest part because people like to reward themselves after they work hard because it keeps them feeling like they have something to work hard for. Cutting back the small rewards makes them feel demoralized and like giving up. Here is where you change your thinking (Change your think into a thunk!). Right now, for this time, the reward is seeing the debt paid down. THAT is the reward! And what better reward can you have than being able to someday buy that reward you want without guilt. So, nearly anything from a convenience store besides gas=expendable income. Those new clothes=very likely expendable income. That extra box of cookies=expendable income. They key is to cut expenses back until you have something, anything to go towards your debts. So, let's say my hypothetical family (The Joneses) can cut back $75.00 a month by stopping the "rewards" to themselves. The Joneses struggled with this as it was kind of depressing to acknowledge where they were but they figured they had $75.00 to work with towards more financial freedom.

2. Which loans have the highest interest rates? This is generally going to be credit card debt. (And if my hypothetical family, The Joneses, has ever missed a payment or the debt is spiraling up, the credit card companies are going to see that and since The Joneses are a "higher risk" they are going to take well advantage of that and raise their interest rates.) So, The Joneses have 2 credit cards and they begin to take that $75.00 a month and pay it to the highest interest rate card they have. They do that until it's paid off. They had been making a $35.00 a month minimum payment on that but since they paid it off, they no longer have to. So now they have their original $75.00 extra plus the $35.00 a month they were paying on the card they just paid off. This is now $110.00 a month. Now, they take the $110.00 a month and put it on the next credit card until that is paid off. The snowball against debt is growing bigger.

3. The Joneses also look for not just the first expendable income they found, but more ways to save and stretch what they already have. Mrs. Jones had a car she was making payments on at $500.00 a month and this car got 24 miles to the gallon. Mrs. Jones sold that car and bought a car that costs $425.00 a month and it gets 32 miles to the gallon. Now, she has $75.00 more dollars a month plus whatever she is saving on gas per month...lets just say $25.00 for ease. Now Mrs. Jones has $100.00 more dollars a month to pay down debt.

4. Mr and Mrs. Jones are on the same page with this. Of course if Mrs. Jones saved and Mr Jones spent it would not work very well. But the Joneses are on the same page and they do this for a few years and now they have their credit card debt paid off and their medical debt. The Joneses now get credit cards at 0% (yes it really can be done!) and they charge everything (groceries and gas) and get cash back and airline miles. So, whereas they use to pay to use credit cards, they now get paid to use them.

5. The Joneses have been able to save up a small nest egg and pay off Mrs. Jones car and now they have $425.00 extra a month + the $100.00 a month from switching cars plus the original $35.00 a month credit card minimum payment plus the $75.00 a month expendable income. Now they have $635.00 a month expendable income.

6. They keep saving and paying down debt. They have saved enough to make a down payment on an investment that creates cash flow. This might be real estate or some other business that brings money in for them every month but where they don't have to leave their jobs.

7. This snowballs until ideally all their debts are paid and they have a good living and retirement fund. Pretty good for giving up that Coffee and Mountain Dew and making some changes.

Mr. Jones had to consider that maybe he really couldn't afford that coffee that is "only" $4.95 that he "treated" himself to every day. It began with the small things and snowballed slowly over the years to bigger things. It was empowering to say no to the small things while the eyes were on the bigger things. Because once those things were mastered, Mr Jones bought himself a very occasional coffee that came with great satisfaction and no guilt. The Joneses changed their think to a thunk and snowballed their way out of depressing debt that had a stranglehold, one Coffee and Mountain Dew at a time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

So, Sometimes It's Not Just About Saving Money, but About Making Money: About $13.75 for 1/2 hour= $27.50/hour

Remember the free Zicam I got the other day? I listed it on Ebay and just sold it.

Now, I was not guaranteed to sell the Zicam, but this is an example of why I pick things up when I see them free or inexpensive and try and flip them online. I won't do this though unless I have a decent margin, because I don't want to waste my time. It probably took me less than half an hour to do this. Some things sell and some things don't and you learn as you go. I try and have a $10.00 margin of profit for things I list.

After subtracting out my fees and postage, I made $13.75 and my buyer got a great deal on some Zicam. ;)

Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Keep from Funding your Dentist's Children's College Educations and Trips to the Bahamas~

I have had bad teeth my whole life. I remember as a child, my brother (who never brushed his teeth) and I would be taken to the dentist, he with a clean bill of health and I (who brushed regularly) was always handed a slip of paper with a return date on it to get some drilling done. After my daughter was born, I had to get a couple of root canals and crowns. Year after year, the same thing. I always had to come back.

I brushed and flossed regularly. One year, I was having some problems with a tooth, and they said I had to get a filling because I had brushed too much and wore away the enamel. Sigh. I felt resigned to teeth drilling forevermore.

Some of my teeth are too far gone with old root canals etc. and I have been told I will need to have one pulled. However, aside from damage that is too far gone, I finally read about a way to prevent cavities for teeth that aren't practically falling out of my mouth from old fixes. Yes! I have used this regimen for 4 years now and aside from old problems becoming new, I have had NO cavities, 4 years in the running! A world record!!

I was working at the library a few years ago and I checked out this life-changing book called Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by Ellie Phillips DDS. This books gives all the science to the regimen. (I like all the details but you may not.) 

Follow this link to a chart that shows you how to use the above products and do the regimen:

Here is how I do it:

1. Soak toothbrush in Listerine for 30 seconds.
2. Rinse with Closys for 1 minute.
3. Brush with Crest. (Use ONLY Crest regular with NO whiteners or any other kind. There are scientific reasons for this!)
4. Rinse with Listerine for 30-60 seconds.
5. Rinse with Act Fluoride rinse for one minute.
6. Don't eat or drink anything for 30 minutes.
7. Do morning and night.
8. Use xylitol throughout the day by eating mints, chewing gum or rinsing with xylitol water.

That is  IT!!

Dr. Ellie sells xylitol products but you can also buy a large bag for rinsing at:

Or gum, mints etc at:

When I first started this regimen, my hygienist was really excited. The tartar was down and my gum depth improved. It was my first dental visit after using the products for about 6 months. However, I was very disheartened at first, I had three cavities and I told my dentist about the regimen and she said "Sadly, I don't think it will make any difference for you". But, I had read the book, I knew the science, so I decided to keep trying. I kept on and the next time, no cavities, and the next....and the next.....

I switched dentists.

Dr Ellie also has some great writing online to look over.

So, it does cost something to start using this program. However, if you have problem teeth you will spend a lot less than you would if you just brushed and flossed. I will always have some problems with my teeth. I wish I had known about this regimen long ago and did it. I will also be forever thankful to Dr. Ellie for writing her book.

Hopefully you can save your teeth, some money and keep from funding your dentist's children's college educations and trips to the Bahamas.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Walgreens Freebies

Walgreens has freebies on a pretty regular basis. I got these epsom salts for free this week. Here is how: They have a rewards program called Balance Rewards. You can sign up here:

Once you sign up, you are able to get offers in the store, including freebies, coupons, and points you can use for money off purchases later. When you get a freebie, like the Morton Epsom Salts above, you have to pay for the item that day, then you get a coupon for the full purchase price to be used at your next visit. This must be used within two weeks or you forfeit the money.

Usually, as I am preparing my ad-match for Wal-Mart, I also go out to and look at the weekly flyer for Walgreens. (They just built a CVS in my area too, so I will also check them out soon.) I look for deals in the flyer that I am interested in to use the freebie coupon on. This way, I get freebies and also sale items. Also, I look for the next set of freebies and you can use the coupon for those as well. (I rarely pay full price anywhere for any item, but once in a great while, it does happen!) I also look for in-store deals when I am there such as clearance items.

I don't go to Walgreens every week, but I go there fairly often as it is worth the time to make the special trip. Happy shopping!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Got This Stuff Free and Said "Please No More for Now!!"

I got this stuff at Menards a couple days ago. I could have gotten more but there gets to be too much free stuff!! Zicam has no limit. I bought those to sell online but they expire next month so I didn't want to go overboard. I got the red bins for my Mom. There are 4 free floor mats. I have a back stock of those so I have fresh free ones whenever I need one. Shirts and hats always come in handy. I could have gotten 10 bamboo boards but how many do you need, after all!? And then some odds and ends for the hubby. Don't miss out if you have a local Menards!