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.