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!