Sunday, September 14, 2014

Discount Hound

There is just not enough time in my life to clip coupons, but that doesn't mean I don't take advantage of them.  If I'm sent one or it's at the end of my register receipt, I'll determine if it's worthwhile to use.  I try to combine coupons with discounts and not buy stuff we don't need.  If a discount is under 20%, I don't bother with it.  Well, if it's a high ticket item I'd be buying anyway and there are other compelling reasons, I might bite.  But I'm pretty picky about discounts too.

We shop at CVS a lot because of the extra value thing.  It is comical how long their register receipts are and how many inapplicable coupons I get from the in-store printer.  In spite of that, I spend probably two hundred dollars a year there.  While I don't stock-pile, I do use their store coupons and periodic discounts to buy our HBA staples.  Every so often there's serendipitous find worth splurging on.

This month a 20% discount coupon came in the mail.  I use those to buy staples and other things I will eventually need but rarely go on sale.  Today I spent 47 bucks (pre-tax) on things I needed.  My savings were at 31%, which is fine for me.

I don't know what others consider their "HBA" staples, but for us, it's mouthwash & toothpaste (we are set, so no need this time), moisturizer (we needed facial moisturizer so I got some), wet wipes, antacids, deodorant (stocked up on with last big coupon), paper products (we are in a good spot now), lip balm and mascara (neither of which are important to TBG).

When I am determining how to maximize my 20% off coupon, I look at ways to save on things that are not on sale but still a good deal.  At CVS, many of their store brands offer an extra small savings if you by two instead of one.  I took advantage of that with the lip balm and mouthwash.  In general, the store brand is cheaper so I will buy it even if there isn't a discount (like the antacid) -- but if I can find a package with extra volume (say, 25% more free), that's going to tip it in my favor.  If not, I just buy the largest size.  This week, I also had a $2 off coupon for the mascara.  The moisturizer and cleanser was buy one get the other half off.  That excluded my 20% deal -- but the sale saved more money anyway.  Both were items I needed -- they weren't surplus.

The leggings were a serendipitous find.  I had to throw a couple of pairs out this month because they were worn out.  CVS had these as a B1/2nd 50% off and each had a two dollar peelie.  These were not something I went in there to buy but the price was right.  They will be getting more on Tuesday in "denim" and I'm going  back to see if they have the peelies.  If they do, I'm going to grab a few more.  Leggings are wardrobe staples for me and if I can get them for seven bucks a piece, then that is a good deal.

There was one coupon worth using on my mile-long register receipt and that was $2 off moisturizer.  I'll use that on a CVS brand combined with some other special.  If a good discount or special doesn't crop up by the time that coupon is set to expire, I won't sweat it.  I just refuse to agonize over coupons and feel like I'm losing money if I don't use them.

I know there are a lot of serious coupon users out there and I applaud you. If I had the time, I might do more myself.  But the method I use is quick and easy and it saves enough money to be worth it.  That's good enough for me!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thrifty with Dough

I took some time this morning to mix flour.  We are having dinner guests and I'm making pizza.  I use a mixture of white, white whole wheat and whole wheat flour for my dough and also add a little bit of wheat gluten.  It's easier if I mix it up in advance but haven't done that lately as this summer there was not a whole lot of pizza going on.  I've also been too  busy to do much baking.  
It was cool enough to run the furnace.  Of course I take advantage of that warmth for my dough.  We're paying for it anyway.  This pot has my dough in it and it's on a shelf over a heat register.
I still have no clue if I'll have a job after October but don't want to give up hope and also don't want to slack on keeping my wardrobe in good shape.  I spent four bucks on these thrifted shoes because they match the tights I've been buying all summer.  I wear a lot of black and have a grey skirt too.  I did also get a pair of black pumps.  I'll need to clean this pair up a bit but they had nearly no wear showing on the soles and if I wear them out at work I'll get my money's work. If I'm out of work, at least I didn't pay retail for them.

I am glad my week of covering for an on vacation colleague is over.  There were a lot of things that I learned and now know even more about what's going on.  One group I worked with had a hard time and was pretty angry with us at the start of the week but I wrangled them around and they invited me out for drinks on Friday so I went.  It's a lot less stressful to learn in the course of your job than it is under pressure but I think I did fine.  At least I did everything that was expected of me and probably a little more.  Don't know if that will help in the long run but if I start interviewing again the stuff I did will be legitimate work experience.

My goal is always to turn something good out of even the smallest thing.  Shoes, tights, flour, hot air, I don't care. I'll wring every last bit of value out of it that I can!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Out of Control Inbox

My inbox is turning into a monster.  And Monster dot com has something to do with it.  That is one of the more annoying aspects of a job search.

This week has been super busy learning the intricacies of a job of a colleague who is on vacation.  I also have a few new writing assignments.  The project I was hired on for still needs my services too.  There is no requisition for a full time position for me but I sure am doing a lot of work!  The good thing is that I am learning a lot.  All of my organizational knowledge will be walking out the door at the end of next month and there are at least a few people who think that is a bad idea.  If that translates into someone finding an opportunity for me, I have no way of knowing!

If nothing else, I've now become indoctrinated, experience on and produced quality procedural documentation on a technical product I hadn't used before.  This means I've picked up yet another transferable skill which should help me if I move on.  I can't believe how much my skills set has advanced with this position.  I hope that is translatable into currency as I seek out my next opportunity.

We did say goodbye to my colleague today and I really hope he lands something good soon.  I've been contacted by a few recruiters and have to take some time to follow up.  As it is, just dealing with my inbox each night is a killer.

So pardon the bland blog post tonight, but I had a monster to deal with!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Junk Food Dinner & a Tacky Shirt

We haven't had a frozen burrito dinner in a while. I didn't even try too hard to make it healthy.  No side of fresh veggies/salad.  But there are some fresh sliced tomatoes.  The rice has fresh corn from the cob.  As usual, I cut the boxed mix of yellow rice with a half cup of white and chicken stock to cut down on the sodium.  I was tempted to just suggest we dine out but had a reason to be frugal as I'm spending "expendable" cash elsewhere.
The co-worker I am so fond of has reached the end of his contract and tomorrow is his last day.  He always wears preppy shirts so we teased him that he needed to wear a Hawaiian shirt on casual days.  Actually, every day is casual day and it's special on Friday because we can wear jeans.  He wears Polo everything.  I got him a tacky shirt as a parting gift.  We'll probably go out to lunch tomorrow.  When I spend extra on stuff like this or extra meals out for lunch, it means I have to make sure we eat at home.  I am also trying to get back into a more economical mindset since my contract has only a month and a half left.

The good news is that this shirt was half off on clearance at Target. I wanted to buy one new so thrifting was not an option.  An extra bonus is how truly hideous the thing is!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Potato Pie

I had to work with what we had.  Today I worked downtown so the bus sucked up an extra hour and a half of my day.  This isn't pretty and it isn't fancy, but without time to make a crust, a flat base of potato over corn meal did the job.
It doesn't have to look pretty to taste good!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Extra Features

The hooks are up on the fence.  I garbage picked the short run of stairs.  Now it is stained and screwed into the side of the fence.

We can now hang towels, swimsuits, leashes, etc. to dry.  The stairs are going to be used as shelves.  I can set shoes on them, or purses, or flower pots -- or anything I want!

We put in a few other features but this was an extra detail I was anxious to have in place.

I wish it was the beginning of summer rather than the end!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


 More staining went on while we were away at camp this weekend.  The buffet area will get an additional coat of bar-quality clear varnish.   We are very happy with how the stain looks but want extra coverage here because it will be a high use area.  It's also under a corner of the back porch gutter and if you look carefully, you can already see small blotches of where water drips.  The bark edge also looks so cool that we want to be sure it stays intact.
The area in front of the neighbor's garage is done too.  We went with two runs of wire which we hope to grow clematis on and then the panel with slats that I want to hang things from.  I used a pallet as inspiration.  More design ideas will be fleshed out next year but it's not worth it to do too much heading into fall.
We picked a transparent stain and it still made the wood look darker.  This is something we are happy about.  There was a light cedar tint but the boys were afraid it would make the wood look too orange.  Since this wasn't actually cedar, I think the lack of tint helps.  The stain really  brings out the quality of the wood and give it both character and protection.  I suspect we will want one more coat on it in the spring but for now I am happy with the finish.
The blocks along the driveway are in. I will have a plastic landscape border put in on the far side so that the dirt doesn't wash into our driveway.  I am seriously sick of living next door to a foreclosure.  While our driveway is a mess of cracks -- which we plan to replace if I get a full-time job offer, it doesn't help to have dirt and weeds from the neglected property next door causing more trouble.  The house looks so bad these days -- the bricks are beginning to crumble and the lawn is never mowed unless the town posts a violation on the window.  So not only is the house broken down there are violations taped to the windows.  It's not a good look!

But foreclosure angst aside, the yard is looking really good and the fence blocks out the blight that is the foreclosure back yard.  The job isn't completely done but my vision has been realized and validated. And that is a good thing!