Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"Almost Thanksgiving!"
I've heard that quite a few times lately.
And it makes me sad.
So many people seem to be looking forward; and when that moment comes, does it not last, well, just for a moment?

I am deliberately trying to relish the present, whatever I am in at the moment. I came up with this idea when I was exercising, as I heard the instructor say once more, "almost there," referring to the end of a particular session. That time of being almost there seemed to hang forever, so I decided to focus on enjoying IT. That second, that minute, takes up as much time as the second or minute that I spend lounging with friends on Market Square with a glass of wine in my hand. Is it not as significant in the whole that is called my life? So I am developing a deliberate mind map. As my legs, say, rotate around during a spinning class I envision the fabric of my muscle actually tearing, rebuilding and strengthening. Science is God's art ("what a work of art is man"), and so are the workings of the human body. The experience should be relished and appreciated.

I am responsible for a conference at work every year, and the event is tomorrow. Yesterday I took this new-found commitment and approached the preparations as if they were the end product, not simply to support the main event in a couple of days. It made the work much easier, and I had a greater sense of accomplishment as I typed out the instructions to the facilitators, chatted with the chef, secured the thank-you gifts. I made an effort to be in the moment, and the moment was savored.

That is not to say that one can appreciate what one is not doing. For example, at least once a week I still recognize a particular luxury: I don't have to rush out the door to daycare (which has not been a part of my life for at least 12 years).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The New Kroger

Today a new Kroger opened in Fountain City. Kroger is a venerable operation in our fair community, so the opening merited a story in the morning newspaper. I read this and I planned to visit the store after work. As I signed out from my office, I told our front desk staff person where I was headed. She said that her daughter had been there and it had been F-U-N! "You can make a meal out of it?" I asked,referring to the anticipated handouts of food samples. She replied "ooohh yeah."

Unfortunately a lot of the merriment had worn off and the food had disappeared by the time I got there at 5:30 p.m. The first omen was that the Mayfield's rep was wheeling her stuff out as I was coming in. She looked BEAT. Yet I moved forward on my entry into the expansive grocery complex. I do believe that there is a disproportional number of families in Fountain City that have three boys. There were a lot of three-boy sets wedged in between the groceries in a lot of carts. And many of the sweet things were tired and hungry. Consequently, there was a lot of squalling. I'd squall, too, if I were three years old, squished in with my two stair-step bros and the grocery shopping experience was constantly marred by a start-and-stop, backing up in response to the number of carts clogging each and every aisle.

Beyond the food that really wasn't there (I did score some Gouda chunks and some pretty good olive-based spread that had been spurned by the 10-year old boy in front of me. In fact, when I saw his nose pierce after checking out the food sample station, I knew I'd have a winner. I just couldn't see him and me having a whole lot in common.), there were two major reasons to go:

1. $500 giveaway
2. $30 Kroger for a new or transferred prescription, only good at this store.

Now I know I won't win the $500, because my husband won an all-expenses paid trip to San Franscisco in 1989, and I figured that win used up all our good luck for the rest of our time on earth. However, we always have prescriptions to transfer.

I read that another Knoxville-based blogger saved 52 percent on her trip to this new Kroger,considering deals and coupon use. I didn't do as well, but we are pickier eaters. You could figure that based on my receipt, I save 37 percent. But to me it's all about the bottom line, which is why, when I dragged my sorry Thursday-night self in at 7 p.m., my husband takes a look at me and says, "oh, let's go out." (remember, we live downtown, so that means three doors down to the brewpub for a burger). And my response was no! we are eating one of these wonderful pizzas that was part of the Kroger mega sale AND I'm getting a rebate on.

Let savings reign!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So far, no new clothes in '09

I made a pledge at the beginning of the year to not buy any clothes this year. I have only sort of broken that pledge. I had to put in a third of the cost of a new pair of shoes, the two-thirds being paid with a gift card. I outright bought a new pair of shoes at a store that was closing down. The allure was that I bought them for $20 and they were originally $135. I have worn those shoes once and am seriously thinking of taking them to the resale store. I bought some socks that were on close-out at CVS.

Besides just wanting new clothes, there is another reason why you buy: your clothes become unwearable. When you know you cannot replace the clothes, realizing you need to toss an item becomes a very emotional experience.

I pulled out one of my favorite silk scarves, one that has pulled outfits together for me for years. I have probably worn it for twenty years. It was split right down the middle. My late mother had given it to me, and I thought of her. I got a little weepy.

I was walking home (I live downtown) by myself about 7 p.m.last spring. I had on short boots that had very little give at the ankles. I stepped off the sidewalk and lost my balance, falling and tearing a big hole at the knee. I was very lucky that it was a side street and the car that came right up to me as this happened was going very slow. As he stopped and asked if I needed help, I almost starting crying. Not because it hurt (and it did. Pretty significant bleeding going on.), but because I knew I had ruined a wonderful pair of slacks that I gotten five months before with a gift certificate that someone had given me.

I have some Banana Republic silk pants that have a great chameleon characteristic. I bought them for next to nothing at the resale store because, frankly, they are very out of style. Straight lines with a split at the ankles. But honestly, they go with about 2/3 of what is in my closet. I could never justify dry cleaning them, so I handwash them, and I have spent significant time coaxing spots and stains out. However, the delicate nature of the fabric is showing my work and they are now lighter in a couple of places where I scrubbed harder than I should. I am coming very near to tossing them but can't seem to.

My daughter has lost some weight recently. Maybe she'll bring me some of her too-big clothes. Unfortunately, I would have to lose 20 pounds to get in these too-big clothes.

I better go for a power walk this morning.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Scripps was at our place

Knoxville, Tennessee, is the home of Scripps Networks. Of course it is most economical to stay locally for locations. A couple of years ago an e-mail was sent out seeking downtown condo dwellings. We apparently had a look they could use with exposed brick and high ceilings as they decided to make an image portfolio of our home. Months went by after they did that initial set of photographs, and then last fall they did a Garnier skin treatment commercial here. I wish I had the right equipment to load it on this blog.

The most recent shoot was for a pilot, so I doubt it will be on tv.

Last year my husband was on for about 30 seconds as "the architect friend being consulted" on a DIY episode (for which he was not paid). The stories are run numerous times, and once in a while a long-distance relative or friend will let us know that they saw him.

There is significant short-term sacrifice to having a 20+ crew take over your home-sweet-home, particularly for my husband who now works from our home. Some years ago I was in a piece (I was the aging-issues expert for an info-mercial) that was filmed in a very traditional home. With just a few decorative changes the house could be transformed, so the owners had a lot of work. The owners even got compensated one time with a new gas cooktop. The production companies were filming many kitchen scenes and they wanted a newer look. Yet her teenagers looked restrained in their moving around the house while I was there. Their home was not their own while the crews were on site, and they knew it. It was summer break and they tip-toed into the kitchen and slipped out with their breakfast, to take it back to their bedrooms. No sitting at the kitchen table perusing the morning paper and watching tv!

Inconveniences for which we do get paid.

Some years ago there was a company here called Whittle Communications that printed a lot of ad-type literature. Like Scripps needs homes, they needed people. Our two-year old appeared in a Crest Toothpaste brochure to be displayed at dentists' offices. That was work, too. It was three hours of getting made up (my baby had on mascara and foundation to even her skin tone out!), choosing the right clothes and shooting numerous angles. She got tired and was very confused with much of the goings-on. We never even tried to do another one.

But Scripps, my husband and I are always willing. I hope they call again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Back on the Blog Bus

I pledge to do some active blogging in the short run:

My daughter reminded me that I had made a commitment to "find $5,000 outside my regular income." I'm not even going to go back and determine where I left off, because I realized that there were some ways of making money that I didn't want to share. They weren't illegal. It's just that I was raised not to talk about personal income, so I hit the wall when it came to sharing the more unusual ways that we have been making money. For example, a couple of weeks ago Scripps Networks came and filmed a session in our home. They paid us money. But I think it's bad manners to say how much. However, there was a certain exchange for this payment, most particularly a little disruption of our home as shown in the pictures. I must say, though, that everything was in right order when it was all over. Thanks, Scripps!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slugmama, come on down

Didn't get a response from other person that I named as winner. Slugmama, could you send your mailinginfo to Thanks!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Linda is the winner

Linda, please write me at and give me your shipping information. You are the winner. Thanks for participating.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters Giveaway


The folks at Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters have sent me a really neat hiking pack. I was getting inspired watching the national parks series on PBS, so I thought it was interesting that I would get this kit right now.

Of course, it is full of delicious Granola Nut Clusters.

I get to give one of these kits away.

Deadline is Tuesday, October 6, 10 p.m. I'll announce the winner by Thursday, October 8, 10 p.m.

To enter the contest, tell me which is your favorite national park. The Great Smokies Park is exempt, since I live near there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your computer as a coffee warmer

I just realized that the exhaust vent of my computer can help keep my coffee warmer. Seriously! The cup, which I have placed right next to the computer, is hotter on that side.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fair

This is number 90 for the Tennessee Valley Fair currently running. It used to be called the TVA&I Fair, which stood for Tennessee Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair. A lot of people used to get TVA&I and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) mixed up. Additionally, the aspect of looking at agricultural and industrial advances sound passe, so I am sure that at some point it was easy to change the name.

Last week I attended the kick off and happened to sit with a table of long-time friends. We reminisced over our favorite rides and activities. For us kids,the fair was magical. Sure, there was other entertainment, such as Rebel Railroad (on the same location as Dollywood is now) and over in North Carolina there was Ghost Town and Tweetsie Railroad, but all of it was very low-key. There were no Splash Countriy or Six Flags to compete. Disneyworld had not been built, and nobody I knew had gone to California to Disneyland.

The competitions in the current fair are frozen in time, which is part of the charm. I didn't make it over to the Jacob building this year, but last year they had tobacco competition. hmmm. Maybe they should have switchgrass next year. Of course, they may already have.

This week I helped staff "Senior Day" sponsored by Mercy Health Partners. This gives us, social service and healthcare professionals, an up-close opportunity with a lot of East Tennessee elders. For those over 65, admission was free. While many agencies had informational booths such as we did, people came for the free entertainment--the one-armed juggler, "Barney Fife," a homegrown version of "The Price is Right," bingo, and; of course, some locals dishing up some familiar country tunes. Since this is a regional fair, many groups in vans came from counties as far as Monroe.

As I had been before, I remembered to pack my lunch. Unfortunately, 2/3 of the food offerings are fried. This is so different than when I grew up. Churches would have their own sites, with cooking tents and plenty of seating. One piece of family lore is that my aunt almost frostbit her finger trying to scoop ice cream as rapidly as was the demand. Once in a while my mother would feel ecumenical and we would buy a cookie from a Baptist.

Last week my sister wrote on her Facebook that she had attended the Minnesota State Fair, which reminded her of going every year to the fair here in Knoxville. I have a correction: We only went to the fair every other year. The alternate year we went to Holiday on Ice. Remember, mother was thrify!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good advice from our secretary of energy

I heard Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, on NPR's Morning Edition today. He had some very practical approaches to saving energy and resources, something different from what has now become mainstream as the green movement.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I signed up for U-Promise at least eight years ago. The main way that U-Promise makes its money is that it facilitates bonuses from purchases to be deposited into a 529 account for college.

I am not the best member of U-Promise, because I don't buy much stuff on-line. Instead of my account balance leaping ahead with major on-line purchases, it moves forward at the rate of a glacier (before global warming). Most of my credits are $.02/.04 here or there from one percent on my orange juice or window cleaner purchase. Once in a while it lurches ahead as one receives up to eight percent on some restaurant purchases, and there are a few registered that are downtown. I tried to sign up my daughter as a friend/contributor, but somehow that hasn't worked. (I am sure that it is a matter of tweaking it, but whoever remembers when she is in town?)

The main source of credit I deposit is through participating in an affiliate survey program, E-rewards. I make a whopping $2 on average for a survey. Those do add up.

Also, I am out of the college-funding business. If my two 20-somethings want to go back to school, it's on their dime.

So why do I participate? It's a passive participation. I'm already signed up, so when I just happen to make a purchase of a U-promise partner, I get credit.

BUT BUT BUT the best reason is that I don't really have to put the money into a 529 account. I can cash it out. Under the option "Redemption is easy," I follow the "get check for college expenses." These cash-outs are distributed quarterly. I am looking forward to a $75 check in the next cycle. REAL money!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm a Metro Pulse Winner!!

On page six of today's Metro Pulse there is note that I am the winner of last week's "Where is the MetroGnome?" I cannot pull it up, but the announcement goes:
"Marie Alcorn responded at lightning speed with her somewhat terse answer: 'Gnome is at Mabry Hazen House.' Her alacrity will be rewarded with a paperback copy of Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey." Yahoo! A free book!!

"Terse" I can take. At least they didn't call my response "twitter-like."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Voodoo Math

Just an update on make finding the $5K. Since I write the rules, I can make the math rules, too. Let's say I saved $58 of the stuff mentioned in the previous blog. So I'm up to $363.91. Eek. Not going up as fast as I had hoped.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Food!!

Last week was really great when it came to "free" food. First, I applied a $20 credit coupon at Kroger's for filling a new prescription, and then lucky for me it was Mega Week at the store. The deal with Mega items is that if you get ten of the identified items, you get $5 off. I got ten of the identified items, and for each one I had a coupon. It's always fuzzy math, but after everything was applied, I owed Kroger around $14 for $34 worth of food. But with my $20 credit, no money came out of my wallet!!

Then my husband came home from visiting his mother with a bunch of what should be frozen food and tomatoes. The frozen food came from her just-broken-down in the garage refrigerator, and the tomatoes came from a neighbor who had a bumper crop. I am very sorry that her refrigerator broke down. She is as thrifty as I am, so I know this hurts. However, she is a very good planner and is certain to have the cash stashed to buy a new fridge.

THEN it's close enough to my birthday (I will not share which day or how many years.) that a couple of free coupons came in. (I applied months ago.) I got a free HUGE burger and fries from Ruby Tuesday, which I ate the night my husband was at a meeting. I got a HUGE burrito at Moe's, of which I ate half for lunch and the rest for part of my supper.

I got a couple of other birthday gifts,but they weren't free; so they'll go unfulfilled.

I get a real high when I do not have to spend anything, which apparently is a scientifically proved experience. Thanks to a fellow Facebooker I read the following today from author Ellen Ruppel Shell: Brain studies show that the human brain "lights up" at the prospect of a bargain. Stanford neuroscientist Brian Knutson used fMRI to peer into the brains of subjects as they contemplated making a purchase and found distinct brain circuits anticipating gain and loss -- when subjects were presented with prices they considered excessive, the insula, the region associated with guilt, humiliation, and pride, lit up. Confronted with discounts, nucleus acumbus -- a brain region associated with pleasure -- lit up like a Christmas tree.

People don't like to spend money, they consider it a loss, but a discount "reframes" the spending as a gain. This might sound weird -- after all, even when you get a discount you are spending money, but your brain doesn't see it that way. This is why we so often overbuy in response to discounts, especially deep discounts.

When I don't have to get any money out, my nucleus acumbus is not just a Christmas Tree--it's the one in Rockefeller Center.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Facebook--what's it all about anyway?

I told a colleague at work today that I am not mean enough to be really funny in this blog. I am not mean enough to be effective about a lot of things. However, I am going to write something that might hurt a few feelings-- Facebookers of this world, please review and re-review what you are posting.

Do you really like your friends? If so, do you want them to spend some of their hard-earned time reading your streams-of-consciousness? Let me suggest this: type out your comment, edit it a few times,and then erase it. Yeah, it kind of is like the scene in Sex and the City when Cary was in California and an old friend consumed a whole steak right in front of her--bite by bite, one by one of which he deposited in his napkin. Had to watch his weight.

There--I have said it. Facebookers, please be thrifty with your postings. Thank you. Those who feel as I do--perhaps we can change the world one Facebooker at a time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update on Finding $5K

I saved $46 in coupons and savings this week. Additionally I participated in a focus group for $100.

$159.91 beginning
305.91 total savings to date.

I got a prescription for which I was totally ready to pay some money, but it turned out it was generic and I paid nothing. I was fortunate to get some coupons at home from Kroger's, so I got $20 gift certificate for my new prescription. Interestingly, I had gotten a $25 offer from CVS last visit, but I NEVER spend $25 in CVS at one time, so I figured that $20 at Kroger's was worth more to me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Knox County Schools Coupon Book

LESS THAN THREE WEEKS before this year's coupon book expires. I am always sad during the time between the book expires and the new one comes out. I use some of the coupons, certainly much more than to recoup the $10 cost; but thumbing through the coupon book is my favorite past-time when I get held up at railroad crossings.

I got another book just a few weeks ago from a Freecycler, and she didn't use my favorites. I am happy. I'm probably going to use some in the next few weeks simply because they are about to expire (this is probably a big no-no for couponistas.) One I'm thinking about is for getting six Chick-fil-A minis for the price of three. I'll think I'll saunter down to the location in the First Tennessee Plaza building this week. I hope they don't remember me when I came in "dressed like a cow" on Cow Appreciation Day. I really didn't do a good job.

I ran into Mary K., who oversees the production of the book, a few weeks ago at the doctor's. (Don't worry, our appointments were check-ups for both of us.) She was in good spirits because she had just sent the book off to the printer that we'll get to buy this fall. She is certainly passionate about the coupon book, but she is even more passionate about providing these extra funds for the schools. I encourage you to buy a book or two even if your children don't go to public schools. Quality public schools are good for us all!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Living with One Who Is Not Like Me

I consider Ms. Cheap of the Nashville Tennessean to be a money-saving icon, but one comment she made about NOT saving money has helped me keep my sanity. She remarked that early on she sent her husband to the store with a list and a corresponding bundle of coupons. He came back with the right items, but sometime later she found the coupons on the floorboard of his car.

My husband is something of the same sort. While he certainly likes to save money and is always looking for ways to buy what we need at the best price, he does not share my passion for clipping coupons and planning my trips to pick up a few items here or there. Granted, I could not justify the money-"made" aspect of this avocation to replace my regular job, but it is keeping a little more money in my pocket and IT IS FUN! I LIKE IT! It wouldn't be fun for him, so therein lies the difference. Additionally, I have developed some on-line relationships with some really amazing money-savers.

When we first were considering moving downtown I had planned to learn how to play golf. I figured all that time that I used to apply to yard work could be spent on the golf course. I never got around to the golf thing. If I had, I probably wouldn't have any time left for couponing. Wow, saving money on not playing golf PLUS saving money on the coupons--I'm way ahead money-wise!

Update on the $5K:
Turns out eye drops are a medical flex fundable item, so I filed for a reimbursement on the drops that I had made $1.50 on at CVS last week (item earned full value coupon plus I used a $1.50 coupon). That means what I paid for the eye drops was with pre-income tax dollars. whoo-who!

previous saved amount:$134.16
found a penny on sidewalk at work, $.01
difference in my paying for the eyedrops with pre-tax dollars than with post-income tax dollars: $1.44 (I can't count the whole amount because I am funding my flex fund with pre-tax salary dollars every payday.)
According to my Walgreens receipt of August 6, I saved $24.30 on a trip for which I paid out $24.52 (and I got $10 RR, but I won't count the $10 until I actually use it. Yes, I have been known to lose some or let them expire.)
Total found of my $5K as of Day Nine: 159.91

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Label Post

Savings, Enjoying Life, Finding $5291

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Update on $5K found

Beginning $91.86
Bought Gas in Crossville $2.17/gal, $.06 less than in Knoxville $.72
Rebate on purchases 38.08
Coupon/CVS "bucks" $3.50

Total saved $134.16

Friday, July 31, 2009

Finding $5K

There's a lot in my life that I cannot control: the economy, the real estate market, the way other people treat me.

There's a lot in my life that I can control: what kind of effort I put into my job, how I treat others, and HOW I SAVE MONEY!!!

I have decided to see how long it takes me to "earn" $5,000. I'm calling it my self-raise. This number has nothing to do with budgeting, paying off bills or anything like that. It is about purely finding money. I started it last week, and here goes:

What Kroger said I saved one trip $48.03
Picked up check for resold clothes at Repeat Boutique 11.13
I found a dime in the CourtSouth parking lot .10
I was in Newport where they had $2.18 gas. Got
seven gallons while best price in Knoxville was $2.23
-Always try to keep some space in your tank for gas savings .35
Used $2 rewards credit at Walgreens 2.00
Used CVS rewards credit 4.00
Water instead of tea with restaurant meal 2.00
What Kroger said I saved one trip
(Receipt said I save 54%!) 24.25
Total $91.86

Wow! Only $4908.14 to go. That was about what my yearly earning was the first year I was out of college.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Winners of Yoplait Yogurt Coupon & Stationery

The winners of the contest are slugmama and Kelly Sewell.

Please e-mail me back at by this Sunday evening with your mailing address so that your package can be shipped to you.

Thanks to everyone for participating!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Check Out This Giveaway: Yoplait Thick & Creamy Yogurt is my brand. It Could Be Yours!

I was recently sent a coupon for Yoplait Thick & Creamy along with a cute set of stationery. Perfect! How did they know that I needed to write some thank-you notes? AND eating Yoplait Thick & Creamy is more like eating a fruit custard. I love it. My favorite flavor is "Light" Cherry Cobbler--100 calories and fat free! Because it is so thick, the experience takes a little longer--just like writing a letter long-hand takes longer than writing an e-mail.

Yoplait wants to let other folks find out how good their yogurt is, too; so they have asked me to pick out two of "Thrifty" readers to get the kit that I was sent. In order to make this a little contest, I ask that you please answer the following question by 10 p.m., Thursday, July 23:

In today's busy world, when is it still absolutely de rigueur to hand-write a note or letter?

Post your response as a comment. After I pick the winners, I'll announce them on this blog. The winners can then e-mail me their shipping info. Thanks for participating!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Being the Victim

Christmas, 1979: Bob and I returned home from his parents' for Christmas. At the time we lived in a very modest secluded house tucked in the woods of an upscale neighborhood (Johnny Majors, at that time the coach of the UT Football team, lived close by.). We found our house ransacked. They didn't take our new tv, they didn't take anything BUT our silver that I had hidden in a closet. Why the silver? A little history, according to Brian Trumbore with StockandNews:

In 1973, the Hunt family of Texas, possibly the richest family in the country at the time, decided to buy precious metals as a hedge against inflation. Gold could not be held by private citizens at that time, so the Hunts began to buy silver in enormous quantity. In 1979 the sons of patriarch H.L. Hunt, Nelson Bunker and William Herbert, together with some wealthy Arabs, formed a silver pool. In a short period of time they had amassed more than 200 million ounces of silver, equivalent to half the world's deliverable supply. When the Hunts had begun accumulating silver back in 1973 the price was in the $1.95 / ounce range. Early in '79, the price was about $5. Late '79 / early '80 the price was in the $50's, peaking at $54. Once the silver market was cornered, outsiders joined the chase but a combination of changed trading rules on the New York Metals Market (COMEX) and the intervention of the Federal Reserve put an end to the game. The price began to slide, culminating in a 50% one-day decline on March 27, 1980 as the price plummeted from $21.62 to $10.80.

Many of "the outsiders (who) joined the chase" were common thieves stealing the silver and melting it down as soon as they could to sell it. Thousands of antiques and heirlooms, like mine, were gone forever. The recent copper thieving is nothing like with the silver scare. With the break-in, I felt so violated. As naive as it sounds, I simply could not imagine anyone being in MY house who I did not intend to be in there--people looking through my drawers, my file cabinet . . . The deputy responding to the call gave us words of little comfort in that he said that now that our little house with such vulnerability was discovered, that the silver thieves might likely tell their friends, the tv and small appliance thieves, and we might likely be hit again. Unfortunately, that feeling has come back with the reoccurrence of others taking what is rightfully mine.

For the past three days someone has come inside our gate and taken both our newspaper and that of our neighbor's. They have left the plastic protector sleeves to make sure that we got the message that they are in control. This morning they got even bolder: They left the sleeves very close to our elevator, which meant they walked from Gay Street to the back of the building.

Somewhere in downtown Knoxville the newspaper, that WE paid for, has been thrown in a gutter. Did they really read it, or are they taking it just for sport? Of course, in addition to not reading the news on the printed page, I am having trouble knowing that I'm not getting those coupons today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rebate Wrangle

Last night I went to Fellini Kroger's. The deals are particularly good at Kroger's this week. I was buying a lot of duplicates and was obsessed with keeping the item count versus coupons in sync. One mistake I made, though: I was purchasing items that I would ultimately use for two rebates; and the original receipt is required for a rebate. That means I needed two original receipts. I didn't remember that until I got outside, so I turned around to "return" one of the rebate items and be issued a new receipt.

The clerk had "Long Island, New York" on her Kroger nametag. hmm, interesting, I thought . . . and THEN she claimed that she had never heard of rebates, so I took five minutes to try to explain why I needed a separate receipt. I'm thinking this New York versus Tennessee thing is wider than I first imagined. Only when another clerk, who by his accent was clearly from around here, showed her how to process the transaction did she understand. I even took the time to walk back to my car and retrieve the rebate forms and show her. THEN she was getting sort of interested. She asked me where I got them (from notices from coupon bloggers) and nodded her head. I think she might check the rebate thing out a little further.

FYI, one rebate is for a Tyson Fajita kit (rebate $4.99) and the other is for ten Kellogg's items ($10 rebate plus $70 on a Dell computer. I'm really wanting my own laptop.). I had coupons for a dollar off the Tyson kit and at least $.75 off each box of cereal. I spent $56.24 last night, and the receipt shows I saved 48.56 through coupon and Kroger special deals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Fish Taco! Cheap Gas

Life is grand!

I have doctor's appointment this morning (oh, that is NOT why life is grand. Read on). When I finish, I'll go back to work via Oak Ridge Hwy/Western Avenue. Without going off my route, I'll get the less expensive gas at Raceway, ($2.33 a gallon per and a FREE fish taco at Long John Silver's. (Oh, yesterday I got the free Mocha at McDonald's while I was out on Kingston Pike.)

Besides just running a simple budget of how much money spent/saved, I would like to factor in time and gasoline spent. That is why it is significant that I am not going off my route back to work and getting these savings.

Last week I misunderstood one of the offers at CVS, so I bought the wrong kind of cereal. I was tempted to go back immediately and fix it, but that would have meant more gasoline used. I knew that I would be back by CVS before the week was out, so I had to be patient and wait. Delayed gratification is good for the soul.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Little Bit on Litton's

I went to Litton's with some friends yesterday. I go to Litton's for one thing: the burger.

The burger platter is $8.99, which includes a side (the assumed being French Fries).
Just a burger is $6.99.

When you get the French Fries with the platter, you get a huge basket of Fries, probably equal to four regular orders of McDonald's.

So, if you are with another and you both want Fries, I would suggest that only one person order the platter. Otherwise you will be leaving a lot on the table or taking them home, putting them in the refrigerator and throwing them out next week.

FYI, a free-standing order of the same Fries is $5.50.

I am a self-proclaimed non-French Fries eater, but I still had a couple of their hand-cut Fries out of my friend's basket. They are that good.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Good Thrifty Day

Great Thra-ifty Day! At
7 a.m. I unloaded my surplus of Coke cases on a fellow downtowner who does not have a car. (He chooses not to.) It is challenging in what kind of choices you have to make in the grocery store when you don't have a vehicle and you don't have a garage attached to your house to walk the goods right into your kitchen. Because of restrictions such as this, you'll choose to accept the kind-of-kooky offer like when I asked him to take some of my Cokes. I could give him a big discount because I bought on sale AND used coupons and passed savings on to him (oh, I placed them in our bag with the 'walking wheels' that made it easier to move them into his condo). I went crazy during the Coke sales during the past couple of weeks, and our storage is finite. Thank you, fellow downtowner, for lessening the clutter in our pantry.

At 7:15 a.m. After I dropped my fellow downtowner off at the bus stop on Cumberland so that he could go to work way in the 'burbs. His business is on Sherrill Boulevard, as in "Harold Sherrill." I grew up riding horses at Mr. Harold Sherrill's stables on that very spot circa 1960's, and I am sure Mr. Sherrill would chuckle if he saw the transformation of his expanse of land. But I digress.

Think about it: my friend LIVES DOWNTOWN, and he WORKS IN THE SUBURBS. At least his bus is going against the traffic. I parked the car and moo-ved over to the First Tennessee Plaza with an intent for a free sausage biscuit. Today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A; so if you dress like a cow, you will be given a free entree. I had a pair of black shorts and a white top on that I had on from workout earlier. I walked in with the download that I got from Chick-fil-A, which included printed out cow ears and a cow nose. I got in line and caught the eye of the woman next to me. I said, "Did you know it's Cow Appreciation Day? I am going to 'dress' like a cow!" I don't think she knew of this annual celebration. She looked a hole through me.

The last time I got a look like that woman gave me was when I was 19 and went up to visit my dad in his downtown law office, dressed in my best fashion of 1972: hip-hugger jeans and a knit crop top. My friend with me had the most gorgeous hair, cascading over his shoulders, but a few of Daddy's clients clearly gave me and my friend "that look" as we rode down the elevator with them. (And for anyone reading this blog who is old enough and has long Knoxville roots, one was the elder Mr. Tom Broadus who really gave us "the look.") But I digress--again.

It was my time to order. I got a little nervous. I asked the clerk if anyone had come in dressed like a cow. She said no. I pulled out my ears and nose and asked if I had to really put them on to get a free sausage and biscuit. The clerk did not say ANYTHING, so I gestured with a safety pin as if I were going to pin the ears to my shirt. She acquiesced and put in the order for the sausage and biscuit. I returned home and presented the prize to my husband. He was content, but I did not divulge how I got it. But he knows better than to think that I actually paid for it.

From some Facebook entries I saw, throughout the day people took this dressing-like-a-cow thing very seriously.

AFTER WORK, I went to our new Earth Fare at what I fondly remember as the location of the Knoxville Drive-in. We used to sit in the parking lot at Long's and "watch" the movies. Of course, with no sound it was really hard to keep up with the plot. We usually did this for five-ten minutes and gave up. I digress----again!

With a store-generated coupon mailed to us and a plethora of Kashi coupons, I ended up saving nearly fifty percent over what I would have paid without the coupons. Additionally, much of what I bought was on special, so the prices were competitive with mainline stores such as Kroger.

THEN I took a coupon good for a little gift pack from Aveda that I obtained from their location at Western Plaza. I had downloaded the coupon for it from a coupon blogger. (going down Memory Lane again, does anyone remember Ray's Grocery Store on that spot in the 50's? How about Hall-Brown's in the 60's? oops, another digression.)

Yea! I thrifty-scored four times today! And obviously in terrritory with which I am very familiar!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No free ice cream for me!

Starbucks Ice Cream is giving away coupons for free pints, 800 per hour through Facebook. I had tried a couple of times to get one; and I finally got in, only to learn that as a Tennessee resident, I could not receive the coupon. So I filled in my sister's info in Minnesota.

This is kind of funny, actually. Minnesota has a much better health rate than Tennessee. Tennesseans' obesity rate is greater. Maybe the Starbucks Ice Cream people are trying to help us Tennesseans out by not providing us the ice cream.

Fun Evening at Regas

We walked down to Regas to their 90th anniversary celebration. There are new items on the menu, there is new art on the walls, but it is still good old Regas. It felt like Happy Hour in the 1970's all over again.

Question, though: aren't there enough Pinot Grigio drinkers in the world to have it as a bar standard? I am just not a Chardonnay drinker, and I'd like to keep my bar tab to a minimum, especially on a Tuesday night!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Advice: Follow the Homemade Signs

We spent last weekend with relatives in Williamson County, which is the fastest growing county in the state. Affluence is extensive. There is growing industry and scores of new housing developments, yet one can turn down a highway and find time standing still, as we did.

We were driving out in the country, checking out some land that a relative was considering buying, when we saw a hand-painted sign simply indicating "Tomatoes" were up a gravel driveway. "Yes!! local tomatoes that'll really taste like tomatoes!" said my sister-in-law. We turned in and drove along ancient trees as we passed corn, sunflowers, blackberries, and tomatoes. My husband noted that the house was a frame structure built onto a log cabin. We drove around the back and saw vegetables on the back porch. Figuring that we were on the honor system, we stopped the car and walked up to the house and decided to buy tomatoes and squash. That's when Mr. M came out of nowhere.

We soon realized that this would not be a simple business transaction. Fifteen minutes later we knew we had met an interesting fellow, a hardworking person who had a straightforward affinity for sharing with strangers. His face was chiseled by the weather and his hands were worn. He speech was deliberate as he reviewed his work history (rodeo--until he could buy his first house at the age of 23, decades of construction, and currently supporting his son's local race horsing) and some of the history of the farm and the house (the log part was built in 1835). If we'd stayed any longer, lemonade, no doubt, would have made its way into the mix. It was truly an enriching experience, meeting this man who seems to understand the present but liberally applies the nuances of the past, particularly by where he set his vegetable prices. We paid half of what we would have in the supermarket. Go, thrifty!

I'm sure that Mr. M knew exactly where he had set his prices in relation to commercial outlets.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Water Not Wasted

I may be repeating myself in this blog, but I am not a gardener; but my husband is. We live in a condo with an ample deck and balcony. Within the past couple of weeks his hard work is starting to pay off. I am glad that we have had three groups visit recently (we were on the East Tennessee Design Center Tour, part of the downtown Knox Heritage Secret Supper and hosted the All Souls Church Justice Team breakfast) so that others could appreciate his handiwork. Within a month those parking in our back lot and coming to the Mast General Store, the Brewery and Sapphires will be able to see Morning Glories and Cardinal Vines cascading over the railing.

Watering is a challenge. Eventually we will get a system on the roof to capture rainwater (probably working with the folks at Beardsley Farm to design it), but in the meantime we are using our "brown water" from the kitchen to water the plants. We keep a bucket in one sink to capture the "warming up water," etc. Not much, but it's a start.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Free Cupcakes at Magpies

Yum! Every month Magpies has a free tasting. They present three versions. You get to have one each of their mini cupcakes and vote for your favorite and then they incorporate the selected flavor into their line-up or something. "Mudslide," "Strawberry Daiquiri," and "Blueberry Martini" were today's selections. I voted for the blueberry.

Oh, yes, they also have wonderful Cruze milk to go along. Great way to start the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Coked up

There are lots of wonderful websites and blogs that give you great information about saving money through store deals/couponing. These are all maintained by Knoxville gals:

Soooo, I had fashioned that this blog was not about those kinds of saving maneuvers. However, I have got to brag: Yesterday I got five cartons of Cokes at Kroger's for $8. I had stashed four $1 coupons for Coke cartons (they might have been from registering "My Coke" rewards--the little numbers under the lids or on the cartons.). At Kroger this week you buy four cartons for $12 and get a fifth one free. I saw this dude walking around the store with one carton, and I was tempted to sell him one of my cartons for $2.50. He would have saved money, I would have made money; but most likely he would have thought I was C-R-A-Z-Y. However, it sometimes works . . .

Once when I turned books in at McKay's Used Books, I got the store credit. They give you more credit than you get in cash. The next trip I walked up to a fellow with a big order, offered my credit slip for less than the face value but more than they would have given me in cash. I did this in plain sight, and the clerk said something to the effect of "way to go."

I turned this into the Nashville Tennessean's Ms. Cheap contest, along with some other ideas, and was named one of the top 50 thrifty and got a lot of cool stuff from local merchants. I sent my Nashville sister-in-law to the luncheon at the Palm Restaurant to accept my goods. She was happy to oblige.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ya Snooze, Ya Lose

Glidden Paint had proposed to give away one quart of paint per person during a week or until they ran out.

They ran out in two days. No surprise to anyone, I am sure.

Before I knew they ran out I came up with this fantastic plan to put the paint to a good use.

Since we moved in late '07, I'm not in the personal painting mood; so I called around to find some needy painter person. It turns out that my daughter's boyfriend is getting ready to paint his condo. The plan was to have a bunch of people order the same color so that he would paint his place with free paint.

This little scheme took way too much time to develop before the opportunity was gone.

But I'll be ready for the next great paint giveaway (What? You don't think there will another paint giveaway soon? I'll never score on paint!!!).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Most unique sample

I get a lot of samples from manufacturers. It is fairly predictable how shampoo, lotion or even cereal samples are going to come packaged, but we were a bit amused with this toilet paper. While the width is "regulation," the cardboard roll is not.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Impulse? Shopping Rewarded

Since I have decided to not buy anything in 2009 (I already blew that by adding less than $5 cash to a gift certificate to buy a pair of desperately-needed brown heels), any purchase feels like an impulse. I fell to temptation in April when I was in Memphis, but it was a special situation.

We were downtown and came upon this wonderful little boutique, but they had obviously had a going-out-of-business paaatee the night before. There were lots of beer and wine bottles open around, evidence of snack food; but right in the middle were the remnants of what was left of the inventory. They were practically giving it away. I found these shoes. They were so funky but they fit like gloves. Wow. I asked how much. "$20." I looked at the box, and they were originally $135. Sold!

I finally got the courage to wear them for the first time yesterday. Got three compliments. Good purchase.

Friday, June 12, 2009

$5: T-Shirt and a Good Time

My husband, my son and I got to traverse the new part of the interstate at the fast 40 dash last night along with 1600 others. Less expensive than hanging out at Sundown in the City.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Warning: Don't Be Tempted to Decrease Grocery Bill by Increasing Pasta

As I mentioned in the previous blog, we gave ourselves a treat and bought this past Sunday's New York Times. In there was an article about the recession from Walmart's point of view:

With the recession in its 18th month and unemployment now topping 9 percent, even semi-conspicuous consumption is a distant memory. Consumers are hunkered down. But when they do venture out, chances are they’re on their way to places like Wal-Mart and other big discount chains.

“Our sales — it’s like holding up a mirror to our society,” said John E. Fleming, the chief merchandising officer for Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer.

So what are Wal-Mart, with 4,100 stores across the country, and other major retailers seeing?

Less browsing in the aisles, for one thing. Consumers now are “very disciplined in terms of making sure that they don’t go beyond what they have on their lists,” Kathryn A. Tesija, Target’s executive vice president of merchandising, told investors recently.

Food, of course, is high on those lists (discretionary items like clothes and furniture are not). But consumers are cracking their wallets only so far. Many are trading down to private label groceries. At Wal-Mart, sales of refrigerated pizza were up last month compared with a year ago. Lower grades of meat are outselling the higher-grade, pricier cuts. A recession protein hierarchy has emerged, with ground beef trumping steak, and chicken trumping beef. Some consumers are forgoing protein altogether, opting for pasta.

“We’re seeing a movement away from protein into carbohydrates,” Mr. Fleming said. “It stretches the dollar a lot further.”

Retailers generally don’t divulge details of their sales by category of goods. But they were willing to discuss trends. One stood out: consumers are discovering there’s no place like home.

“This whole idea of staying home and entertaining at home, we’re seeing that everywhere,” Mr. Fleming said, “from the ‘take and bake’ pizza to the $5 movies.” Ms. Tesija noted that “sales of popcorn poppers and microwave poppers are very strong.”

Retailers say consumers are trying to make being cooped up as painless as possible. Mr. Fleming said that would explain why even in this economy, sales of flat-panel and high-definition televisions at Wal-Mart are strong. After all, the retailer’s $378, 32-inch RCA LCD television is more affordable than a vacation. (Which may be why retailers like Macy’s say luggage sales are among their weakest categories.)

Home Depot’s Craig Menear, executive vice president for merchandising, told investors recently that vegetable and herb sales were thriving because “more customers are opting to grow their own vegetable gardens.”

Car maintenance and repair is also big. Sales of motor oil, filters and tires are among Wal-Mart’s top sellers. “Anything that helps their car last longer is doing well because they’re not buying new cars,” Mr. Fleming said.

Consumers are spending to keep themselves in good health too, for fear of having to miss work. Wal-Mart said sales of vitamins are robust. So are sales of over-the-counter medications. Sales of sleep aids, pain relievers and antacids have spiked.

Home repair projects are also a priority. Home Depot’s basic repair and maintenance products — plumbing items, roofing materials, caulk — have sold better than other items.

At Wal-Mart, sales of baby formula and clothing are up. Still, Mr. Fleming said Wal-Mart could tell when parents were strapped: in the first weeks of the month they buy packs of 88 diapers; by the end of the month they’re buying the 40-pack. And at Sam’s Club, sales of pull-ups — that intermediate step between diapers and underwear — are down, suggesting parents are moving their children directly to underwear to save money.

The bottom, apparently, has met the bottom.

When I was potty-training, we didn't even have pull-ups. The development of pull-ups is a classic case of perceived need "sold" to the American market. I am glad that some people are skipping what I see as an unneeded expense and potty training like we did in the old days.

However, the scariest part of this article was reinforced by a radio interview today, on Public Radio, by Bob Edwards of Dr. William Meller, an expert in evolutionary medicine. Dr. Meller explained that while our ancestors had relatively plenty of protein and consequently we are wired to stop when we are sated, full-blown carbohydrates are a relative newcomer to man's diet; and there is nothing in our system to tell us when to stop eating bread, pasta or chips. I know personally that is true. I often refer to "munchies" as my "drug of choice" because sometimes I seem addicted to them as I eat too much when I am tired or in a down mood. Companies such as Lay's Potato Chips know this behavior well. Their ads in the last decade ended with "You just can't eat just one."

Dr. Meller also noted that six percent of health care costs in America are related to diabetes, much of which is a result of eating too much bad stuff such as carbohydrates. Unfortunately in these lean times many people are going to get heavier and sicker. Going for the cheap, carbohydrate-filled food such as pizza and pasta will be the path of least resistance for many cash-strapped Americans, but they will be paying for it later with compromised lifestyles AND higher health costs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

And the New York Times Says Blogs Are Dead?

First off, I hope that there is some humming of "Levon," by Elton John. (There is a line in it: "And the New York Times Says God is Dead.")

I'm on vacation in Florida; and as I have pointed out in an earlier blog, there is a tendency to buy more stuff on vacation than one would at home. Like buying the New York Times Sunday edition, for example. A splurge, indeed, but a pleasure.

My absolutely favorite section is the SundayStyles, noting engagements and marriages and social trends. Ach! On the front page there is an article with the headline: "Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest."

Focusing on one blogger, the article states "many people start blogs with lofty aspirations -- build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world." However, in the article it is noted that "(according to) Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks has been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream -- or at least an ambition -- unfulfilled."

That made me revisit the purpose of this blog. It's to celebrate thriftiness without being cheap, and also at the same time affirming that spending money does not equate to raising one's quality of life. So basically it's about compromises. What in life isn't? Right, ArtBoy?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saving on Some Big Stuff

There are a number of ways to get half off at local merchants--,,

I bought a $25 gift certificate for The Crown and Goose for $12.50 a while back, and I know that at some point we'll join friends down there in the Old City. Money saved!

Besides restaurants, there are usually gift stores, book stores, hair salons that are listed. However, a couple on really surprised me.

First is Wedding Wonderland--a $150 certificate for $75. Now five years ago this would have been a "must buy" for me. No, we were not doing weddings. We were doing presentations. Since a presentation dress is white, usually a wedding dress is selected and the train is cut off. Wedding Wonderland is actually the place where we bought the presentation dress. I was curious to see if one could "stack" the certificates and virtually get a dress for half-off, so I called. Nope. There is a limit of one certificate per gown.

Second is M. S. McClellan, THE old school men's clothing store in town. I do believe McClellan's using this marketing tool is another significant economic indicator. In the old days I would give my husband one thing from McClellan's a year. In my thriftiness that was all I was comfortable in buying. It was usually a sweater vest for Christmas. But he has kind of stockpiled the vests now and giving for the sake of giving just doesn't seem as important anymore.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Veggies Galore!

Saturday turned out to be an upbeat day. We spent some time meandering through the downtown Farmers' Market in the morning, but today was different and we didn't buy anything deliberately. We knew that that afternoon we would go visit a friend's extensive garden. He is very generous to us in giving us anything we want to pick. However, it's about 60 miles away; so we don't go that often. The land lays along a tributary of the French Broad. The trip is more than 15 miles off of the interstate, and we meander up into the foothills of the Smokies. It was a beautiful day for the ride.

One word for today: Leafy! We took home three kinds of lettuce, two kinds of chard, as well as carrots that were pulled a little early but needed to be for thinning out, onions, radishes, beets, and cabbage. But it was the spinach that was the most fun for me. "Take all the spinach you want. I'm tilling it under after you all finish because it's bolting." (We learned that bolting means flowering.) Hmm. ALL the spinach I want? Can one be a spinach glutton? We picked a lot, and I was happy to find "how to freeze spinach" instructions on a number of web sites when I got home.

I don't know how much money we saved over what we would have spent at the Farmers Market, but we are going to eat veggies morning, noon and night for quite a while. I'm going to a cover dish Tuesday night, and I'll be bringing SALAD.

I had slipped some fancy pastries from a downtown shop in their fridge. I hope he remembers to tell his wife where they came from!

After a leisurely time of picking, we enjoyed a glass of wine sitting at the picnic table by the creek, during which we watched a muskrat swim down with his dinner. It was so perfect with just enough breeze coming through the trees. Such a contrast of life to the one we live as city dwellers. Ah, a good afternoon, indeed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


OK, America, it's time to get on that frugal-fueling bandwagon again. The cost of gasoline is inching up. I paid $.24 a gallon less just two tank-fulls ago.

A little history on national averages:

January 6, 2007 $2.20 a gallon
May 6, 2007 $3.10 a gallon

January 6, 2008 $3.00 a gallon
May 6, 2008 $4.00 a gallon

January 6, 2009 $1.60 a gallon
May 6, 2009 $2.20 a gallon

I check to see where the least expensive gasoline is in the area.

I paid $2.08 on Tuesday. My only identifiable routine that could use some driving reduction is my morning routine. If I go to workout, shower and dress there, and then go to work, according to Mapquest, I can save $.20 a day instead of going to workout, going back home to shower and dress and then going to work. The other good aspects of getting ready at the gym are that I'm using their hot water and I get to work earlier. However, my husband gets up while I am at workout; so if I don't go home, I don't get to see him until the end of the day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

The memory is fuzzy, but I do believe that back in the old days, you wore a red flower on Mother's Day to church if your mother was alive and a white one if your mother was gone.

I am not sure what my mom did for herself since her mother died when I was two, but my very frugal mom was fortunate in that she didn't have to buy her children the red flowers because we had a red rose bush right next to our driveway.


When my children were little, we had no nursery at our church. A number of us decided to furnish one of the meeting rooms as a nursery, and our first fund-raiser was fittingly on Mother's Day.

On that Mother's Day we moms were out in a strawberry patch at dawn and picked for two hours. We arrived just at the end the first service all dirty and wet, from the dew and later sweat, with the berries; and we set up stations at the exits. Our price was just a little higher than what we had checked at the grocery stores the day before (after all, it was a fundraiser), but that didn't stop one woman coming right up in my face and proclaiming loud enough so that all around her could hear: "You can get these at xxx store for fifty cents less!" She was so proud of herself, and all I could do was nod, because she just didn't get IT. Sometimes you just have to let the penny-pinching go.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A little extra in the pocket

Because I'm getting so much "almost free" stuff, it's starting to stockpile, which is great. I work for a social services agency, and there are plenty of needs. BUT . . . is there any additional monetary benefit to me in all this hunting down bargains/couponing/rebating?

I was chatting with one of my downtown neighbors and told them that I had just bought eight reams of paper at Staples, original cost of $55.92, for which I would net pay $1.00 per ream before taxes ($1.64 after taxes) and after a rebate. Why eight? Because one of my on-line blogger tips said that Staples would honor a competitor's "buy $50, take $10 off" coupon. After applying the coupon and rebate, this would be a fantastic deal.

Staples store manager said no to the competitor's coupon, but I didn't feel like getting out of the check-out line and taking some of reams back, so I bought all eight. I was sharing with my friend that I didn't know what I was going to do with so much paper. She offered me $10 for four reams on the spot. Sold! I made money. She saved money (best on-line offer I could find just now is $3.99 a ream).

My friend realized that there is value to be placed in my going to the store and processing the rebate. She compensated me for it. Could I again benefit other downtowners and benefit myself with other stuff from my stash? Should I?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great Cheap Day

Great day thrifty-wise.

1. Had a free sandwich for lunch at Penn Station East Coast Subs. I had joined their club, so I was able to download a free sandwich coupon. There's a new location on Cumberland, and they have the nicest people working there. I got the artichoke sub and mushrooms. Fortunately they had water cups, so I didn't have to blow the "free" lunch by purchasing a drink.

These subs are great. I had been in there before and got a wrap sandwich. I think they seal the wrap on the grill after it is assembled which gives the wrap more substance.

Their fries look wonderful. I think they cut them in the store. But I typically don't order fries.

2. I got "my new" ironing board through Freecycle, which Wikipedia describes as an "Internet-based international community recycling project of re-use/sharing usable goods."
The frame on our ironing board broke, so I posted my need on Freecycle. Within a day a wonderful couple responded that they would be near my place of work and could drop it by. Turns out they were going to their daughter's law-school graduation, and UT is just a mile or so from my work. So not only did I not have to buy an ironing board, but I didn't even have to go out of my way to get it.

3. I came home to find a free coupon for Kashi waffles in my mail.

A great frugal day indeed! Now it's on to eating some pretty good leftovers. Might mosey over to Sundown in the City after supper . . . Life is good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Time Savings

It seems that I have had the most reaction to my kinda-funky stuff, like how I have devised how to use every single bit of toothpaste, so here's another one:

Time seems to be particularly needy of management in the morning. One little solution for me is combining elevator riding/leaving for workout and shoe putting on: Press elevator button. Loosen shoes. Slip shoes on. Elevator arrives. Scuffle into elevator with untied shoes. Press button. Tighten up shoes and tie double knot. Elevator door opens. Also since I am typically running a little late, I run across the parking lot, which I now categorize as a warm-up for my work-out.

You have to remember that this is 5:45 a.m. And this is a warning to those people who live below me who might get on right after me and have the elevator door open to my backside while I'm bending over: I can't be sociable pre-6 a.m. and put on my shoes at the same time. There's just no time!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Worth every penny

First day of my big "keeping track of what I spend," and some downtown friends call and ask us to walk down to the Brewery for supper. On the spend-o-meter, the expense of dinner for time with these folks is worth it. At least we have great leftovers in the fridge, and I remembered to bring a $5 coupon from the school coupon book!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Budgeting . . . yeah, right

Yesterday I attended a wonderful workshop about couponing (see, conducted by someone with whom I had developed an on-line relationship and met up with some of the other women who were on this e-mail group as well. The workshop was very affirming in that I am in the process of polishing most of the tips and techniques she presented as I have had a lot of this information presented to me through the electronic correspondence of the last few months. However, her very first instruction made me squirm: "Budget!"

I don't. My excuses were numerous--being empty-nesters, we tend to be loose on our committing to the evening meal together--we may go out with our own friends or meet up together at a restaurant if the workday ends late. Additionally, one of our greatest pleasures in living downtown is having people call when they are in the neighborhood and drop by, but we never seem to be ready with the drinks and snacks. There's the rush out to the store to buy these items, and rushed shopping tends to be pricey. I saw all these scenarios as budget-breakers.

THIS SPENDING MUST BE MANAGED!! Therefore, I hereby publicly pledge to give food and household items a budget, and that does include eating out. We've all heard that the best first step is to write every expenditure down for a month. I'm gonna for May. Starting in June I'll have a good budget number to shoot at, and hopefully beat!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upcoming workshop on couponing this Saturday!

Couponing In Critical Times
Save over 75% on your groceries!
Get Free items when you shop!
Come to our workshop and learn new resources for getting the
most out of coupons.
Bring a friend and register for a door prize.
Where: Faith United Methodist Church
1120 Dry Gap Pike, Knoxville Tn.
When: Saturday, May 2, 2009
10:00am to 12:00pm
Suggested Admission: Canned goods donation to
Faith’s Food Pantry
Presented by Gabrielle Blake, featured in the Knoxville
News-Sentinel for her couponing expertise.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lessons To Learn from Those Cheaper than I Am

For cheapsters, there is excellent reading in the current AARP bulletin, entitled "Fabulously Frugal: Living Well on Less Money."

At first I was appalled by their extreme measures. Something scratched at my sketchy knowledge of Scripture, so I Googled around a bit and found what I was looking for: Matthew 6, which starts: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." HA! I contrasted these people with my own state of living. I strive to achieve a look of normalcy. I don't practice cheapness to the point where, if you saw me on the street or came into my home, you could see nothing that overtly pronounces "CHEAP." I do not want to be a walking billboard for frugality.

So after I read the article, I am sitting on this point of view, feeling smug, when I read further into Matthew Chapter 7:

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."


After I realized how much I was judging those featured in the article, I decided to re-read it. Glad I did. My judging had kept me from understanding the lessons to be learned from these people's lifestyles. I will NEVER live like these people, but just because I won't doesn't mean I couldn't learn something from them. I got a lot more our of the article reading it a second time. Lots of tips in there! Hope you check it out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thrifty 'til the End

Because my technical skills are limited, you have the additional benefit of the ads that were linked to the original on-line article. ANYWAY, I have been investigating ways to keep costs down, even through the end, so I was very interested in this article that came across my "desk" this morning:

Woodworker crafts furniture to die for
Waterville man offers tips on home funerals
UNITY, Maine — In Chuck Lakin’s competent hands, the plain pine box can double as a bookcase or even as an entertainment center.

During a session of Saturday’s Rural Living Workshop at Unity College, the Waterville woodworker cleared a little space at the front of the classroom and quickly assembled two of his handmade coffins. He also showed photographs of his more multipurpose models, which evidently can serve a useful life long before reverting to the traditional business of coffins. Attendees scribbled notes and asked him questions, their imaginations clearly tickled by the coffins.“Why isn’t every home furnished like this?” one attendee called out.

Today's Poll

Would you consider having a home funeral?


For Lakin, the customized coffins’ best use is that they spark conversations about something that often can make people feel uncomfortable — home funerals. “When my father died, I wanted to be part of whatever happened next but I didn’t know how,” he said. “What I would do now is that we would have built the box, and he would have been kept at home. I don’t think people know this is possible. I’m providing the possibility that they’ll have a more meaningful experience.”

Lakin and two like-minded colleagues have created a resource guide to do-it-yourself funerals, called “Last Things,” and they are working hard to educate Mainers about home funerals.

They are part of a trend that’s on the rise for reasons as diverse as economizing, environmentalism and an increased desire to honor loved ones at home, he said. The last time having home funerals was a widespread custom was during the 1950s, but that is changing fast.

“Home funerals right now are where home childbirth was 30 years ago,” Lakin said. “I’m not trying to put funeral directors out of business, but I just want people to know there is an alternative.”

Lakin shared some surprising facts about the funeral and cremation industries, including: ä One-sixth of the mercury pollution in the air comes from cremation.

ä What’s left after cremation is actually bone meal. People have opted to blast this into space, turn it into an artificial coral reef or a diamond.

ä Maine is home to two green cemeteries, the Cedar Brook Burial Ground in Limington and the Rainbow’s End in Orrington.

Perhaps the most surprising fact he shares is also the most basic.

“Home funerals are perfectly legal,” Lakin said. “There’s no part of the process you can’t do yourself.” He emphasized that people have the right to choose the funeral goods and services that they want, and that a funeral home can’t refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket bought elsewhere.

For Susan Lachlan of Waldo, Lakin’s presentation wasn’t just handy information to file away for an undetermined future. Lachlan’s mother is dying, she said, and has made it clear that she wants no part of a funeral home funeral.

“With her death being imminent, this gave me more of an idea for the possibilities,” Lachlan said. Lakin reminisced for a moment about the best part of his own father’s funeral — which happened after the burial.

“People sat around our backyard all afternoon, laughing, crying, telling me stories I’d never heard,” he said. “What a gift that was.”

Resource guide: Web site for Last Things:; Federal Trade Commission's "Funerals: A Consumer’s Guide:"


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fried Trying To Be Frugal

Sunday afternoon a few "warnings" popped up on my computer screen, and I followed instructions to eliminate some stuff; but unfortunately things slowed down to a freeze within an hour.

I declared the computer dangerous to my husband and shut it down. He called one of those wonderful people, who have the gift of understanding all this stuff, who came, cleaned our system out and added some more protection software; and we were back and running within 24 hours after the crash. Our "computer guy" is a kind soul, and after seeing what kind of junk he had to clean out ("save here . . save there!"), I think he took pity on me and didn't charge us for the whole time he was here. But the final charge was, nonetheless, a major step back in my effort to penny-pinch. I felt some shame and last evening I declared to myself that I would never look at a money-saving website again.

In my pursuit of finding great coupons, I had gone too far. I should have known. Offers would pop up in my e-mail list, and I would sign up to get a free box of cereal, etc., but there were always page after page of having to enter a few more responses. Red Flag!!

The morning brought on a sense of renewal, but I was almost afraid to get back on the computer, like getting back on the horse after being thrown. Should I trust no one, including all those mommy-blogs about saving money? Of course not. Maybe they have better filters than I do. No, I know what I did wrong. I'll be more careful and am thankful for the extra software protection. It is reinforcement, though, that there truly is no such thing as a free lunch. Some people would call it "stupid tax."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Clothes Washing & Energy Minutia

Now that there are just two of us, we don't do nearly as much laundry as when the children were in the house. Right now we have an energy-efficient dryer and and old-fashioned washer. We used to have an energy efficient washer, but the drum split three years after we bought it (It was a KENMORE :( !!), and it was going to cost almost as much to have it fixed as a new one would cost.

At the time we had to replace the washer, we had X amount of credit at Home Depot, which set our budget for a washing machine. That meant we bought the conventional top-loader type; which I think I would have bought anyway, because 1) I like using it to soak stained clothes: I can stop it after it has filled up, which you certainly can't do with a front loader, and 2) It doesn't sound like a jet airplane landing in the condo when it is in its final spin stage.

Recently I pulled up a table of wattage use, and I noticed that the clothes dryer was at the top of the appliance consumption list. With just the two of us in the house, all of our loads are half washer capacity, with the exception of the cotton knits and towels. I calculated that by eliminating two dryer loads of cotton knits and towels a week, I could save a whopping $14 a year. $14 is $14. And then I got to thinking an additional plus: eliminating all that lint, which made me think that my clothes and towels will probably hold up longer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TANSTAAFL: The Most Important Thing I Learned in College

I was an ok student in high school, so when it came to my education, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville was just fine for me. I applied nowhere else, and it was virtually in my parents' backyard, although I did live on campus. My mother was not really happy with what she saw unfolding in the next two years. The problem was that I grew progressively what she might refer to as "fringe-y." My friends were "different," (my escort's hair was probably four inches longer than mine at my debutante presentation), but most disturbing was my choice of curriculum. I was the Renaissance woman of Liberal Arts, studying everything from cultural anthropology to art history and came out of my sophomore year with a 3.78. I had sort of played around with the idea of delving into the roots of poverty, but that was going to take a lot more years of schooling than I wanted to give at that point. I was already tired of going to class. As we were both unhappy with my prospects, Mom and I had a heart-to-heart talk. Result: I switched to the oh-so-practical business school.

I moved into a four-year bachelor program in the College of Business called Office Administration. The next two years were pure business courses which included the secretarial core, but it also forced me to other business basics including economics.

I wasn't as good in economics as I was in sociology or zoology, but I enjoyed it. I feel fortunate to have been lectured at by the great Dr. Tony Spiva via recorded tv about the basics of economics, along with a few hundred other undergrads jammed into lecture halls across campus. He taught me a lot; but there was one important truth that I process every day: THERE AIN'T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH or TANSTAAFL.

There are costs to saving money. Costs in time planning, reading other frugal people's blogs, clipping coupons, mapping out shopping trips, making those trips, mailing in rebates. It's all about making the commitment and maintaining the discipline. But as we all know, once a discipline becomes a habit, it's something to which one looks forward.

Gotta go--time for my exercise class!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Comment on Green Stamps

A dear friend commented on the remark I had made about Green Stamps not being "up north."

"Green stamps were in the North also. It was interesting to see that you said to ask someone from the south. Yup, us Michiganders licked them stamps and stuck them in the books too. As a matter of fact, that was one of my jobs as a child. The other one was ironing my dad's handkerchiefs on my little ironing board with my little iron that really worked."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Updating Marketing Techniques

For those of us who are really into couponing (like I am getting to be), it is great sadness that we mourn the demise of the Walgreens EasySaver rebate program. You could make FREE MONEY because if you selected to receive your rebate electronically loaded on a card, you got ten percent more. April is reported to be the last month for this program.

I was chatting with a Walgreens manager about this (fun fact: there are 36 Walgreens in Knox County. Yes, I thought the count would have been much higher, too.), and I made some comment about "well I got used to Green Stamps going away and I can get used to this."

Blank stare from the mgr. Not surprised. He looks just over 30. Green Stamps probably went away in the early 60's. But it started me thinking: what are the gimmicks that marketers use to get us loyal? Green Stamps in the 50's? I think I am right in remembering that my aunt bought her entire everyday tableware through Jewel Tea. Jewel Tea had one of those services where a man drove a truck by every week and delivered the goods you ordered the week before. There would be some dry goods as well as foodstuff. And my aunt would periodically order a new plate, bowl or cup at a "special rate." Did that desire to complete that set of dishes make my aunt a more loyal Jewel Tea customer? You betcha!

What's out there today? Banks have long ago given up on giving toasters for newly opened accounts. Do car dealers throw in a year's worth of gas to make the sale? It seems that the edgier sales gimmicks of today involve downloading something.

Have we become more sophisticated where we won't be swayed by dishes? maybe

P.S. If you don't know what Green Stamps were, ask someone over 60 who grew up in the South. I have asked my friends who moved here just 25 years ago, and they hadn't heard of Green Stamps, either. I'm figuring it was a southern thing. But I could be wrong.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Economic Theorum Tested

My husband and I just returned from five days of doing absolutely as little as we could during a respite to Florida. We've been visiting this particular community since 1986, and we definitely saw evidence of the recession everywhere we turned. A lot of businesses have closed.

We stopped by and chatted with a store owner who we know well. As she described the profile of the visitor she is seeing with increasing frequency--they always cook in, never eat out, and don't buy anything in the stores--it made me think of something I had read about what economists had to say about our behavior in this situation, as posed by the Alchian-Allen theorum.

The original theorum stated that adding a per unit charge to the price of two substitute goods increases the relative consumption of the higher priced good. (Example: Australians drink more higher-quality California wine than Californians which are more expensive to them, and vice-versa, even though the only difference is the shipping cost.)

But in further development of the theorum, economists now apply it not only to when the goods are shipped to the consumer, but when the consumer goes to the goods. Think vacation. When you spend a lot to get to a location, you spend more while you are there. Where does the newly profiled vacationer that my store-owner friend described fit in? Is the current economic situation bending this theorum? Time will tell; but I'm hoping that a little "A-A" (Alchian-Allen) even applies to the frugal vacationer, that at least for one dinner they are splurging on local shrimp purchased at the fish market instead of dining on fish sticks they brought from home.

My apologies in not giving credit to the individual economists whose work I liberally used.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A hay-penny will do

When I was growing up, we had a Bing Crosby Christmas record that had a song addressing the charitable spirit of the season. One line went something like "if you've got a penny, a penny will do; if you simply have a hay-penny, then God bless you." I suppose that means that if you are down to a hay-penny, then you don't have enough even to give a little to charity. A hay-penny was a half penny. It was an English coin.

But if there were a hay-penny in the U.S. currency, I suppose I'd be chasing after them because I think every little bit helps. For example:

1. It really bothers me that when there is some stereo-typical profile of a cheapster, there is some reference of squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. I am here to tell you that even after the last squeeze, there is enough for five or six good brushings.

The first time I thought about this I cut the tube in half and started to brush the inside, but then I realized I was contaminating the sides with my brush. So now I horizontally cut the tube in five or six pieces, one for each use.

2. Every time I use dishwashing liquid, I routinely run the top of the bottle under the water and into the suds I am working up. That keeps the top from getting gunky--gunk that could have been usuable soap.

3. Of course, the last shampoo always is gotten after swishing some water around the bottle.

With all this work, I might have extended the use of these products by at least 60 days over the course of my life, and I intend to live to 100.

I do some other cheapy things, but I anticipate that my friends are going to make enough fun of me with these. I am not going to give them any more ammunition.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Couponing is changing my life!

Changes in my life due to money-saving strategies:

1. gotten bold and asked a few people for their Sunday coupons. no problem, 100 percent "yes" response. (note to file: know who to ask)

2. now look forward to filing coupons.

3. going to a file box for filing coupons. (used to be able to carry all coupons in this cute case my daughter gave me. I still carry that in my purse with restaurant and "major" coupons.) I have not crossed the line and carried my file box into the grocery store, but I feel it coming.

4. going to grocery store early Saturday morning so that I can savor the shopping-and-saving experience in the quiet of non-crowded aisles.

5. cashing refund checks and combining them with my reimbursement checks from work and paying cash for almost everything in my day-to-day activities. There is that weird science where cash really does spend more slowly than plastic. And yes, I try to give exact change, so don't get behind me at Aldi's! I'll slow you down!