Author: Cheryl
•10:01 PM

As I sit here watching my husband play Guitar Hero on New Year's Eve, I figured now was a good time to post my financial and in general goals for 2009. It is insanely windy and cold here so we decided not to go see the fireworks and just stay in our warm home.

I started this blog in September, so its nice to to be around to start a whole new set of financial goals for 2009. Its amazing though, I just paid off credit card # 3 this morning and by the evening I was bummed out again thinking I still have so far to go and worry it will get harder and harder soon to come up with the extra money to knock it down. But again this is not a race but a marathon and the end results, no matter when they come will be worth it.

Goals for 2009

1.) Pay off credit cards # 4 and 5. My first two I would calculate as having relatively small balances, the third card a bigger small (if that is a word). The next two are in the medium range. I think setting a goal to pay them both off this year is definitely an achievable goal, as long as our income stays relatively healthy. I hope to be on card #6 by the holidays in 2009. I have been hesitant since I started this blog to list how much each card's balance is. Not sure why, maybe one day I will.

2.)Have emergency fund at $1500 by end of year. In 3 1/2 months I have gotten it to $475.00 just by putting $50.00 in per paycheck. So not too bad. I think $1500 is definitely achievable. If my husband's job goes full time then we will have him do the same too and then we will definitely reach that goal.

3.) Buy chest freezer and stock with deals for dinners at home. Well this one is already half way done. My freezer is in, we pick it up tomorrow. I already have a turkey in my mom's friend's freezer waiting to go in there. ShopRite is having a great sale this weekend, and SuperFresh is having triples it should be full in no time.

4.) Stop buying certain pre-made products and make them from scratch at home. Alot of these I still have plenty on stock. So I plan on using up the rest of what I have and then buy nothing but the ingredients I need to make them from scratch.

Laundry Detergent
Fabric Softener
Household cleaners
Pasta Sauce

5.) Clean out the garage and sell unnecessary things. This is definitely a goal that won't be tackled until the Spring/Summer. I live on a street that gets decent traffic when it gets warmer and that really is the time to clean our the garage and sell some things.

Of course I may add some small goals to this as the year goes and of course my current goals are still going strong and won't stop. Its never bad to come up with more you want to do in life.
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Author: Cheryl
•1:07 PM

JUST PAID OFF CREDIT CARD #3! Can I get a whoop whoop?

I promised myself I would pay it off before the end of the year. Its 12/31, so I made it. Onto the next one.

Tonight we are watching fireworks in a quaint little town near us and drinking hot chocolate. So that will be a nice thing to celebrate.

Tomorrow I will post my 2009 goals.
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Author: Cheryl
•1:07 PM
I am getting my butt handed to me at work, seriously. I always thought the time between Christmas and New Year's was slow at work. Not for me this year. I haven't taken my lunch break in two days. I just shovel it down at my desk. Today I am taking a whopping 5 minutes to type this and then back to work. But I know, I know, I'm glad I have a job.

But for all my hard work I got a reward today, my freezer is in. I go pick it up tonight. And this is what my world has come to, my excitement for the week is getting a freezer. Wow, I'm a really an adult now, yuck.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:53 AM

I had mentioned a day or two ago, that since we had quite a bit of leftovers from Christmas plus a fridge and freezer that was already pretty full. That I probably wouldn't have to go grocery shopping this week or if I did then I would only go for a few things. And that is what I did.

I skipped SuperFresh, Acme, didn't even go to CVS (taking a break from them, just not having to many god deals). I just hit ShopRite for a few things we needed.


2 Turkey Hill ice creams $2.74 - $1.00 off two q's = $2.24 each
1 Skim milk $2.19
2 sausage rolls $1.49 each
1 Dr. Pepper $1.49 = FREE with my coupon from the Guns N Roses album release
2 Penn Maid dips = .99 each - $1.00 off two q's = .49 each
10 Breyers Yogurts = $5.00
1 Domino Sugar
2 Minute Rice brown rice $1.99 - $1.00 q's = .99 each
1 Rotisserie chicken $4.93

Total $26.73
And I got a $1.50 catalina off my next order for buying the Breyers yogurt.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:26 PM

Proof above that I do indeed have 6 cats. One of the few times a year all six are all in the same room. They just got their Christmas treats and cat nip.

Our dinner table. It looked much nicer before everyone got there and started taking stuff off it. I do love my Christmas plates though. My mother in law bought them for me years ago on sale at Rite Aid. They are the perfect style for me.

My small Christmas house collection I assembled two years ago, one of my free Glade candles and a train set that used to go around my tree before my cats kept sliding into it and broke the train tracks.

My family wiping out the antipasto platter. Not to worry, we have so much leftovers I don't think I will need groceries this week.

My big fat crabby old man, Mysterio, checking out the tree. He is not afraid of a thing.

A great time was had by all. I got lots of house things I wanted - a toaster oven, dust buster, rice cooker. Definitely a woman staying home cooking lots of meals. My husband got me some of the sweetest gifts. I will keep them to myself, but I am one very lucky woman.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday too.

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Author: Cheryl
•10:18 AM

Probably won't be posting tomorrow or Thursday with the holidays.

So to keep you all updated.

1.) Sent a huge payment to CC # 3. I believe I am one more payment from having it gone. Let the drum roll begin. I hope to have it gone before 2009 hits.

2.) Budget for these two weeks was bigger due to us hosting Christmas dinner at our house and my husband's love of making a fine meal that coupons can not contain. I let him slide this time, he has been working real hard and he is also sick as a dog. Back to the basics next week.

3.) Made my dog homemade peanut butter dog biscuits as her Christmas present. She doesn't like them at all. My fussy child. She will get some cooked chicken instead. The cats will get cat nip I already had and a bunch of twist ties and milk lids.

4.) Emergency fund is already up to $425.00 since opening up with a measly $20 in September. Not too bad. I couldn't decided whether to do debt payments or emergency fund first, so I am doing both. The money for the EF is direct deposited from my check into the account, so I don't even miss it.

5.)In the process of switching banks. My current bank has some ridiculous fees. New bank is a bank at work program. As long as I have a direct deposit set up with them I get tons of stuff free, including checks, safety deposit box, and no fees on all those things the other bank charged for.

Have a safe and happy holidays everyone!

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Author: Cheryl
•6:17 PM

When we were just friends, my now husband and I worked for a company years ago, where we met an awesome character with a ton of energy. The three of us clicked. We went to each others barbeque's and SuperBowl parties.

Over the course of those years, he met a wonderful woman whom he married and moved to be with her in CT. Though we were sad to see him go, we were beyond thrilled that through all the hard times he had been through, he was going to live a happy life with an amazing woman and her two awesome children.

I have had the privilege to become good friends with his wife over the years. I check out her blog all the time and she does mine. We e-mail too whenever we can. She is a fantastic person. I can see why her children turned out so wonderful.

For over three years they have been in the process of adopting a little baby girl from China. I have felt every bit of pain for her as the waiting grew longer and longer, never seeming to have an end.

But I am so beyond excited that they both leave the US on January 1st for China to pick up their lovely little lady. And though the husband will have to live off of crackers and smuggled in Tastykakes with his picky palate. I guarantee you food won't mean a thing to him when he finally gets to hold her in his arms.

Have a good and safe trip my two lovely friends. Bring the little one home soon. We are bursting at the seems to meet her.

Love ya.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:33 PM

My Saturday started off at Acme. I know, I have said before I try not to go there. But that darn Acme had two good cereal deals in two weeks. And I take dry cereal with me every day to work as my 3pm snack. So stocking up on this cheap makes my lunch packing really easy. This time they had selected Kellogg's cereals 6 for $1.50 each. There are Kellogg's coupons for $1.00 off selected cereals.

3 Crispix cereals
3 Frosted Mini Wheats

Total after Acme deal and coupons $3.00

Off to SuperFresh, which I have to say has the nicest cashiers on the planet. Had to throw that in. This week, cheap ham, and cheap Eggo's.

3 boxes of Eggos = $5.00 - .75 q's (SuperFresh really doubles) = .50 for 3 boxes
1 ham = $4.49
2 Ronzoni pastas = .79 each

Total $5.78

Oh I wish my freezer was in already, I would have stocked up big time on the ham's and Eggo's. Oh well, no room for now.

I thought my shopping for Saturday was done. But then I went out with my father to help him get some of his holiday gifts and he had to stop by Aldi to get my mom milk. So I couldn't resist grabbing a few things we needed.

2 dozen eggs $2.70
11 canned items (baked beans, corn, peas, carrots, tomatoes with chilies)

Total $8.39

Needed the canned veggies to make a good soup tonight.

Woke up Sunday morning early to find everything outside was coated with sheet of ice on it. Fun. My husband went shopping with me this morning as we also had to get our ingredients for our Christmas dinner. We are having 5 people over, so I gave him his own separate budget just to make his fancy dinner he likes to make. He loves to cook and didn't find my normal food I get to be good enough for the holidays (you pick and choose your battles in marriage). So what you see above is our normal food budget for the week minus the Xmas dinner and the nights of eating that for leftovers, so that is why I didn't buy much meat or dinner stuff. Just got a few things we needed.

After we scraped off the car and got to the store, this is what I got.

1 bag of 9 Lives cat food = $4.69 but FREE for me with a Free coupon I got in the mail.
2 Glade oil candles = $2.49 - $2.50 Q's in paper so FREE
2 OJ's = $3.54
1 container of beef bouillon cubes $1.39
1 container of chicken bouillon cubes $1.39
2 Martinson's coffee $1.99 - $1.00 q's = $1.98 for both
2 Edy's = $2.74 - $1.00 off 2 q's = $4.48 for both
1 Rotisserie chicken $5.71 ( I get this for my dog, long story)
5 Ramen noodle packs $1.00 (my husband insisted on these for his lunch)
2 cans green chilli's $1.29 each = $2.58
1 Reynold's aluminum foil $3.19 - $1.00 q' = $2.19

Total $24.26

Final total $41.43. So under my budget. But again keep in mind we had a separate budget for our Christmas dinner food this week. So that is why I took it easy on the regular food.

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Author: Cheryl
•3:57 PM

In an effort to keep costs down and to keep paying off our debt, I had to come up with creative ways to get gifts for the ladies in my life.

I have my mother in law, sister in law, boss, and a close friend that I need presents for. And I know none of them read my blog, so I am safe to post their presents here.

While searching all the savings blogs, someone had posted a great deal to be found on a website called Bargain Catalog Outlet. They had tons of great stuff on clearance and discounts. They had a set of three pink and brown canvas bags (a big bag, a medium one and a small makeup bag) and beige and canvas bag for dirt cheap. Three sets of the pink were $7.99 (that is 9 bags) and the beige and canvas ones were $7.99 for two bags. So my total was $15.98 for 11 bags.

The bags are no longer available but there are tons of other great deal on that site.

So what was I to fill them with, my free stuff from CVS and the other stores I have been too, of course!!! I kept the gifts in mind as I did my deals over the past months. When I saw candles, chocolates and great lotions on sale I stocked up. In the bags are flavored teas, Vasoline lotion, Glade candles, Glade Glass Scents, Whitman's chocolates, Revlon beauty tools, mints, shampoo, Chapsticks, facewash, L'Oreal facial moisturizers, etc.

So I have 5 gifts for 5 women that I am figuring really costs me about $25.00 total. $5.00 a gift. Not bad at all and let me tell you I would love to get this kind of gift from someone. So I hope they all like it.

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Author: Cheryl
•9:37 AM

About a month or two ago I read about a search engine site where you can earn "bucks" for the searches you do. These bucks can be traded in for prizes, gift cards, etc. when you hit certain amounts. Sort of like skeeball :)

I figured it was worth a shot. So I signed up and made it my homepage. I searched everything from CNN to Amazon to The Office and every now and then I would earn 1 swagbuck, 3 swagbucks and even one time 4 swagbucks.

Once I hit 45 I went to their prize redemption area and saw that I was eligible for a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. I redeemed my bucks and with under a week I received the gift card in the mail. We can use this for our "date" my husband and I allow ourselves at Starbucks every two weeks.

So it works for me. And I wanted to pass it on to you. There are other prizes and gift cards you can redeem the bucks for and its easy and fun to do. Every time I earned a buck I would cheer.

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Author: Cheryl
•9:21 AM

Debters - people having bad debt (credit cards, etc)

Non-Debters - people having no bad debt


As I said in my last post, I am a cheap person with myself, so most people that know me have the impression that I am probably very good with our money. I don't tell many people we have a good deal of credit card debt. But then it doesn't come up too often either.

I had a conversation with someone I know the other day concerning the economy and debt, etc. This person is in their 50's, has no CC debt, mortgage is paid and makes a good living. She was talking about people in debt and of course I got the impression that she looked down on us like we were 2nd to people that burglarize homes. When I mentioned to her that I have credit card debt, she played it down as if I probably just have a little bit. Which could be the impression she gets from me being so cheap too. I didn't bother to tell her that we have alot of credit card debt, as I really didn't think I should be sharing anymore anyway. She also feels that people who are in debt will never change, even with this bad economy. I think a good percentage will wake up and change, but there will always be some that won't.

But it got me thinking how do people that have never had debt look at us credit card debters? Do they think we are awful, just made bad choices? What do people think about us who are making changes to get out of debt? Do they think we will just put it back on again when things are better?

All this just makes me want to work harder at it and prove people wrong.

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Author: Cheryl
•8:41 AM

I'm a pretty cheap gal with myself. Always have been. I buy my clothes on clearance and the sale racks. It takes me forever to haul my butt to the hairdresser for a cut, I buy a bare bones model for my car, and I wear my sneakers until my toes peek out the front of them.

So how did we get into debt when I am so cheap? Well, let me put a disclaimer first. My husband reads my blog, and I do not want him to feel like I am laying any blame on him for what we are in.

I cannot find the exact quote from Suzie Orman that I heard the other day, but it set off the perfect lightbulb moment in my head. She said something to the effect that some women have a tendency to use money and buying things as a way to feel loved and to try to prove to others that they love them and are worthy. I grew up in a weird yet loving family. So, I am more guilty of the latter.

For years I put alot of my worth as a wife into how much I could spoil my husband. Buying him anything and everything. Did I know I was accumulating debt? Yes, I did. But no matter how much my head said "You really shouldn't do this", my heart would say "But he really wants it and I don't want to be the awful wife that says No we can't afford it". Again my brain would know that I wasn't an awful wife for that, and my husband never made me feel awful, but my heart always won the battle. My husband wouldn't think otherwise when we would spend this money, as I handled the bills and just made it sound like everything was under control.

Now every little thing I bought wasn't always for him. I did occasionally use the cards for stuff for the house or things we did together.

Even before I heard that quote from Suzie, and when I started a more frugal lifestyle a few months ago, I knew things had to change and started making those changes. But it wasn't until I heard her the other night that I knew it really came down to that one problem. My inability to say no.

So I have gotten much, much better with it. I had to. For the security of our family I had to bite the bullet and get a little tougher. I still have my days where I feel awful telling my husband that he is close to his limit on his bi-weekly budget and feel tempted to just give him more money. But he has been very supportive through this whole experience and I appreciate it greatly.

The No may be hard to say, but the debt free life is going to be oh so worth it.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:46 PM
The sad thing about our menu for the last week and this week, is that my husband and I are now working opposite schedules. So usually 4 of the 5 nights of the week my husband makes our dinner around 3pm, eats his portion, goes to work until late at night. I come home at 6pm and eat my portion. My dinner companion is the dog and the TV. But when we are together we do cherish our time.

Sunday - White spaghetti
homemade garlic breadsticks

Monday - Grilled cheese and soup

Tuesday - Ground chicken chili

Wednesday - Creamed Ground Beef over noodles
Green beans

Thursday - Breaded and baked pork chops
Steamed corn

Friday - Maple Dijon Crockpot chicken
Mashed potatoes with sour cream
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Author: Cheryl
•3:11 PM

Yesterday I sent another credit card payment off and now credit card #3 is under $1000. I also sent more money to our savings/emergency fund and we are keeping a certain extra amount in our checking to offset a change in salary for my husband starting in a few weeks. Kinda like an emergency fund for bills only. I stayed very much in budget for grocery shopping and I have been done Christmas shopping for two weeks now.

I ordered my freezer. Watching Food Network and making homemade ham and cheese stromboli and garlic breadsticks.

Not a bad weekend.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:45 AM

Saturday, my first stop was Acme. Again I do not go to Acme very much unless they have something that wowed me. This week they did have a super cheap deal on cereal which surprised me.

3 boxes Kellogg's Rice Krispies $1.67 - $1.00 q's = .67 each (cheapest I have ever gotten cereal)

Total $2.01

6 Pillsbury Crescent rolls on sale 6 for $10, then you get a bonus $3.00 off if you buy all $10 and I had .35 q's for each doubled. So total was = $2.80 for 6 (.46 each!!)

1 Arnold 100% honey wheat bread $1.99 - .55q's (doesn't double, darn) = $1.44

Manager's Special Pork Chops = $3.14
Manager's Special Pork Chops = $3.20
Manager's Special Eye Round Steaks = $3.16

Had a catalina for $1.50 off my order too

Total = $12.12

My mom bought me bananas and the celery while she was at the produce market. They aren't in the picture. But they are FREE.

On Sunday my weekly trip to ShopRite. This one didn't pan out like I would have liked it to. I I had coupons for free Glade oil candles and a real cheap deal on Betty Crocker potatoes. But they were completely out of the candles when I got there at 9:30am!! And they only had two pouches of the potatoes when I needed 5 of them. So I decided to fill their place with a few things we were low on and looked for the best deal on them. So I don't think I really got as much for my money as I usually get, but it was the best I can do with the change of plans.

1 Rotisserie Chicken

1 Olive Oil

4 cans Spot Shot Carpet Cleaner (remember I have 7 pets)

2 cans Fisher peanuts

2 Turkey Hill ice creams

1 Friendship sour cream

5 boxes Betty Crocker Cake Mix

4 boxes Ronzoni lasagna noodles

1 1/2 dozen eggs

Total $37.27

Total for the week $51.40 Only a pinch over the budget so not too bad. Off to make my menu for the week.

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Author: Cheryl
•10:55 AM
I have been tagged by Maggie my good friend at Daisies, Doggies and Daddy.

8 Favorite TV Shows:

The Office
The Girls Next Door
The Daily Show
Diners, Drive Ins and Dives
How I Met Your Mother
Steven Colbert Show
My Name Is Earl

8 Things I Look Forward To:

Paying off our debt
Getting a different car one day
Seeing my dog (she spent the night at grandmom's)
Seeing my husband (we have been working opposite schedules)
Christmas with our family
5pm today - Its Friday, weekend time
Getting a deep freezer
Going for a run tomorrow

8 Things on my Wish List:

I am assuming this is like your ultimate wish list and not what I think someone could actually get me.

A new kitchen from Ikea
A fenced in yard
A Volkswagen Beetle
A trip to Las Vegas
New glasses without electrical tape on them
No credit card debt
My dryer to be fixed
A deep freezer

8 Things I Did Yesterday:

Went to work
Watched my favorite episode of House during my lunch break
Went to my company Christmas party
Made fun of employees at said Christmas party
Drove home in the pouring rain
Watched The Office
Made my lunch for the next day
Fed the pets

8 Favorite Restaurants: (I know I am forgetting some here, remember I haven't gone out to eat in over 3 months)

La Esperanza
The Melting Pot
Prime Rib
Bobby Flay's
Tortilla Press
Royal Mandarin

I don't have 8 online friends with blogs to tag, so if you are reading and want to participate please do so.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:15 AM

This is Charles Brown. He is our favorite Christmas decoration of all time. I found him years ago at Kohl's and squeezed his hand. It plays "Christmas Time Is Here" from the Peanut Christmas special, one of my favorite Christmas specials.

It is a running tradition in our house since we got him, that we get Charles out on Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving dinner is over we push his hand to play the song and then and only then, is it officially Christmas in our family. You can never push his hand any other time of the year. Bad things will happen, monkey will shoot from the sky.....well probably not, but its fun to pretend.

Yes, I do have stockings for all 7 of my pets. 8 stockings are actually hanging up. Because one of them is me and my husband together.

One of my only purchases in the last 3 months. I really wanted a stair basket because I am constantly carrying shoes, dog toys, socks, clothes and sheets up and down the stairs. I got this for under $15.00 a month ago and I think it was well worth it.

Can't resist a picture of my baby. She just got in from a trip out in the rain to do her business, so her ears are all crimped from the dampness. Yes, her tongue always sticks out when she sleeps.

This spot down my basement is so lonely. Just waiting for the deep freezer I am going to get in the next two weeks.

Wednesday is laundry day here. I tried not to get any of my underwear in the shot. :)

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Author: Cheryl
•8:49 PM

Monday - Scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage, bacon and cheese

Tuesday - Tater Tot Casserole

Wednesday - Fried Chicken
Roasted Potatoes

Thursday - My company Christmas party so no cooking that night

Friday - Baked Spaghetti Casserole
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Author: Cheryl
•8:42 AM

I am going to get my Christmas bonus in two weeks. Yes, I feel very lucky that my company is still giving them this year. My dilemma is what to do with it.

Surprising huh? Since all my money now goes to our CC debt. My dilemma is this.

Do I take the whole thing and send it to CC debt?

Or do I send half to CC debt and with the other half buy a small chest freezer?

Our little freezer, which is the little top half of our fridge is completely full. It is actually dangerous to open it for fear of breaking your toes on a frozen pack of sliced bananas or bacon.

I have passed up on many a chances to stock up on super cheap meats, produce or ice cream because of space limitations. In fact my free turkey from ShopRite, is still taking up residence in my parent's neighbor's extra freezer one whole town over from ours. If I got and find a great sale on produce, then the produce takes up 3/4's of the room in my freezer and then there is no room for meat, and vice versa.

I have researched for days all sorts of freezers, sizes, costs, energy usage, etc. I have narrowed it down to two I like. Getting one from Craiglist or anything like that is out. My husband forbids it. I think we are both afraid I will get one there and it will die on day two or the person will try to kill me when I pick it up.

Do I consider the freezer an investment in us saving money and staying home and not going out to eat? And feel good with that and good that the other half is going to debt.

Or do I pass on it for now, and just deal with the small freezer and send it all to debt? Debt should me my 100% focus.

I'm so torn, help!

I also learned that I do not know how to spell dilemma. Thank you spell check.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:10 PM

3 Promax bars $5.00 total
1 Powerade $1.59
2 Propel waters .80 each (clearance) = $1.60
2 Visine $4.99 each = one at $4.99 and one at $2.49 (50% off)
2 Rolaids softchews = $2.89 each
1 J & J First Aid Kit = .99

Total $22.44

(1) $1.00 off 2 Propel waters (was actually taped to one of the bottles)
(1) $2.00 off Visine (another one taped to the box)
(1) $3.00 off Visine
(2) $1.00 off Rolaids SoftChews
(1) $1.00 off any J&J product

ECB's Used $8.99
Total oop $4.45
ECB's earned $10.45

Much bigger oop than I usually spend, but they were out of more Rolaids soft chews, and the last ECB I had with me was for $7.99 and I didn't want to waste that. Still not bad for all that product and earned some more ECB's.
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Author: Cheryl
•3:19 PM
This is the first of my weekly "Grocery Shopping In Budget" segment. I decided to post each of my weekly shopping trips to show you what I get for my budget.

Since we started our more frugal living we have cut our grocery budget to $50 a week, this is for two adults. We could possibly do it even lower but this is enough for us to build up a nice stock so maybe some weeks in the future I may not even need that much. And considering we don't really go out to eat anymore, we needs lots of snacks and stuff for lunches at work and dinner.

My grocery shopping schedule is mostly done on the weekends. I would love to go on a nice quiet Wednesday at 10am when no one is there. But I can't. I work Monday through Friday, getting up at 4:30am to exercise before going to work and not getting home until 6pm at night. So when I do go on the weekends I try to go as early in the morning as I can to avoid the crowds. Every week on Sunday morning I go to ShopRite for some staples and if they have any good sales. I find that ShopRite is the cheapest grocery store in our area. So I make them the main stop on my schedule.

Saturday morning I pick what other store I feel would fill in the gaps in my stockpile for that week. Sometimes its Dollar Tree for its cheap rice, jars of peppers, and cake mix, sometimes its SuperFresh if they are having triple coupons or if I need to stock up on meat. Superfresh has the greatest manager's meat specials. Sometimes it is the produce market to stock up on cheap veggies and fruits. Every once in a while I may go to Aldi's if I need canned goods or cheap Mexican food components, and also every once in a blue moon its Acme, if they have a good deal, but I don't go there too often, too expensive.

You all hit me on an unusual week. I actually stopped by Acme on Friday night because I read there was a great deal on frosting and Chex mix.

6 tubs Betty Crocker frosting 6 for $6.00 - .50 q's doubled = FREE
5 bags of Chex Mix 5 for $5.00 - .50 q's doubled = FREE

Total cost of trip = $0.00 (can't get better than that)

Saturday morning I went to SuperFresh first, as I actually had a pinch bit of room in my tiny freezer and decided to fill it with a few meats. Some okay deals.

3 lbs ground beef $5.09
1 package of 14 chicken drumsticks $3.38
1 packages of Chorizo sausage (manager's special) $1.99 each = $3.98

Total = $12.45

After SuperFresh I ran over to Aldi's. Its about a 10 minute trip but I think it was worth it today.
I hadn't been there in a while, and surprisingly on a Saturday it wasn't busy at all. My husband and I are huge Mexican food fans. So I was very happy with the Mexican staples they had and the prices they were at.

Cannot find my receipt. Its in my box somewhere but I can list what I got and the total.

1 bag of Tater Tots (found lots of good recipes for this, and I just like them, so nah nah nah)
1 bag of pinto beans
2 frozen Mexican dinners (good for lunches for the man)
1 dozen eggs (the cheapest I have seen them)
1 jar of honey (we were completely out of it)
2 cans of chili beans
3 cans refried beans
2 cans corn
1 can peas (I absolutely HATE peas, but I have a few recipes that ask for them, so I gave in)
2 boxes of corn dogs (more treats for the husband)
6 boxes of cornbread

Total $24.70

And then lastly on Sunday I hit ShopRite as usual. In the last few weeks I have spent under $20.00 at ShopRite, just getting a few things to wrap up our meals. But this week they had a few things I couldn't pass up.

Milk $2.19
2 gallons Turkey Hill Ice Cream $2.74 - $1.00 off 2 q = $2.24 each
4 packages Farmland Bacon $1.69 each (no q's for this boo hoo, but still the cheapest in a long time and we had no bacon on stock)
Lemon juice .99
2 containers of Daisy sour cream $1.29 each - .50 q's doubled = .29 each
1 Dole salad = FREE with coupon I won on a game on the Dole website
2 bags of Utz cheese curls (my husband's addiction) = .89 each
2 bags of Domini brown sugar $1.59 - .50 q's doubled = .59 each
4 GUM toothbrushes .99 each = .75 q's doubled = FREE
1 Rotisserie chicken $4.99

Total = $23.99

Total spent for this week = $61.14

Of course the first time I put my whole shopping budget on the blog, I go over my budget. Last week I was $10.00 under, but did I post that, of course not. Oh well. That means I have to behave myself a little next week. But I did get alot of stuff to stock up on. And this is a world of a difference compared to what I used to spend on groceries for just two people.

Also we do have a alot of fresh veggies and fruits frozen in our freezer that we eat all the time, so I don't want you all to think we eat just junk all the time. But I did notice we needed some snacks to keep hubby happy.

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Author: Cheryl
•11:19 PM

The last razor review I did was for the Bic Soleil disposables. Believe it or not I finally used the last one in that 5 pack yesterday. And if you read that review you would know that I did not like them. But I don't believe in wasting, so I pressed on and used each one of them.

I was so happy to see them go. And very excited to try a new one. I decided to stop just going for the disposables and try one of the ones with changeable blades.

I picked the Gillette Venus Embrace. It looks good. Mine came with a cool shower pod to hold the razor and an extra cartridge that is held in the pod. Good start so far. This razor has 5 blades and a huge conditioning strip all around it. Still sounds good.

Then I used it. It was not as bad as the Soleil in that it didn't cause one nick, and it didn't make my skin irritated or made it burn. And it went up and down my leg smooth and soft. But when I ran my hand on my leg it felt like it there was still hair there. So I did it again, and one more time. They are now half decent smooth. But I have used other Schick disposables that got all the hair off the first time.

I will give it few more days to redeem itself and if not then I am stuck using another very so so razor until it is time for me to get another new one out.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:12 AM

I filled up my tank in my car this morning for $17.60. Yes, filled the whole tank. $1.49 here at the Wawa in SJ. I have reduced my bi-weekly gas allowance from $60.00 to $40.00.

My husband promised me if he saw gas under $1.50 that he would do the Irish jig naked in the street. I will let you know what time he will be performing :)

I also got a wonderful comment from one of my readers that really put into perspective why it is a good thing that it takes a while to pay off debt. I think this is so true and I will remember this when I get impatient.

One thing is that if we suffer the "pain" of debt we will be less likely to jump back into it.
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Author: Cheryl
•10:11 PM

After those tremendous deals at CVS on Black Friday, CVS seems to be in vacation mode and didn't have too many deals when the weekend's ad hit. I did get four of the Febreeze Air Effects above, because I had good coupons for those. I would have preferred the actual Fabric Refresher, but my coupons stunk for those. I got 3 of the apple scents, as I absolutely love food scents, but got one different one just to try it.

I paid .26 oop after q's and ECB's and got $5.00 in ECBs back. And my house smells good.

I have decided to post more about my grocery shopping excursions each weekend. I love to read about what others bought at the grocery store and how they did their deals. So I am going to make my trips on the weekend a weekly feature here.

Also a question for you all. I love to review products, but I felt a little conflicted about reviewing food products, as I feel that taste is really subjective. But then I guess reviews of any kind are subjective, aren't they? How do you feel about food and drink reviews or just stick to non edible products?
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Author: Cheryl
•10:10 PM

I usually only go to ShopRite on Sundays and get any necessities and a few deals. I realized mid-week that we blew through our supply of eggs and I needed one stinkin' egg to make meatballs. So I decided to go on Wednesday, since SR's price break deals are Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. They are special deals for those days only that I usually miss cause I'm in work and don't like to go out shopping at lunch.

I stopped at the ShopRite near my work at lunch to get the eggs and came across these finds above. The TreeRipe OJ was on sale for $1.49. I got two of these on Sunday so I grabbed two more on this trip. The marinara sauce was .88 each, so I got four.

About 3 weeks ago in my SR I found bananas on clearance since they were a little bruised and brown. But the bananas felt solid and I saw nothing else wrong with them. I bought two big packs for $1.19 each and cut them up and froze them. So keep your eye out for a damaged or bruised fruit section.

So when I went to the SR near work I was very excited to find a whole rolling rack of bruised produce. I grabbed four packs of their bananas for .60 each. Froze 3 of those packs and made muffins out of the last pack. Every morning I have a smoothie made from OJ and bananas. So this was a great stock up trip on my breakfasts for weeks. And the muffins will be good for my husband for breakfast and snacks. My total for these items was around $8.90.

Oh yeah, I did get eggs, but they aren't in the picture and weren't on any special sale. I may have to start hitting the price breaks on my lunch.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:26 PM

Tonight is an annual holiday TV viewing ritual for me. And it takes alot of guts for me to admit it here. Its the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. I don't know why I should be embarrassed about it. I am a girl, I like fashion shows and I am a huge fan of The Girls Next Door. Guess its my fascination to watch real life Barbie Dolls in action, and I have always been a fan of their clothes.

It is also a great motivation factor to get my butt on that elliptical machine at 4:30am every morning. Yesterday I slept in a little late so I didn't work out in the morning, but I promised myself that I would work out at night and I did. Then I got up at 4:30am this morning and did my normal exercise routine again. I couldn't live with myself not working out and then watching that show tonight. Plus the clothes (or what they wear of them) are fantastic.

So I will do the wash first, make some meatballs to freeze, and then stay up late to watch the VS show and then keep it on my TIVO for months to keep my motivation going.

The Victoria's Secret Fashion show is on at 10pm tonight on CVS. Check your local listings.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:40 AM

Wow, that is a heavy title. Just couldn't think of anything else to call this.

I am making up a financial notebook to keep everything in it that I need to get our finances in order. I printed out my spreadsheet of my remaining credit card debt.

And then I got a little depressed. I know we have paid two cards off so far and a 1/2 of another one, but when I saw the remaining balance, it completely bummed me out. We have so far to go still. But I must keep reminding myself that this is not a race. Its probably just my impatient streak coming out.

In the next few weeks we will have a decrease in income too by about $300 a check, and so all of these money saving techniques will really come into play. I felt like before, we did these money saving things to pay off our debt and build up a savings account quickly. But the decrease will make it harder to pay more to the credit card, but I am determined not to give up on this goal. Tough decisions will need to be made. But every little bit we can send to these places helps.

I read many a blog where I see people reach their debt free goals and I am so unbelievably happy for them. I know one day that will be us and I will have the most soundest sleep of my life that night.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:35 PM

Last month of the year, and that means the last of my updates on my 2008 short term financial goals. I am looking forward to making new ones for 2009.

1.) Credit Cards The first two have been gone for a little while now. The third one was a little bigger and I paid half of it off already. Just sent another payment on Friday.

2.) To not use any more credit cards. They are all still cut up and still haven't touched once since then.

3.) Christmas kept under control. I finished up all my shopping on Friday (online of course). I spent less on my husband and all my friends and family together this year, than I spent on just my husband last year. Very in budget and the earliest I have ever gotten it done and all cash.

4.) Drastically cut eating out. Still doing well with this. We go on our Starbucks date every two weeks. We did have one night of takeout during our vacation but it was under $20 and it was only once. For the rest of the 10 days we were on vacation we made every breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. And we have 2 $25.00 GC's to restaurants we can use for free meals too.

Other changes I have made and updates on those:

1.) Grocery budget - Still sticking to the $50 a week budget. Some weeks I am $5.00 over. This week I was $10.00 under. I am getting real good at what to buy and what I need to stock up on and slow down on.

2.) Recipes using what we have on stock. Still doing this every night. Tonight is quesadillas. I am also making meatballs from scratch this week and freezing them for future meals. I've gotten into making both sweet and savory breakfast casseroles too. Still would do even better with a stand a lone freezer. But don't want to spend the money yet on that.

3.) Coffee Since I was on vacation for 10 days I just made myself a cup at home. Today, my first day back at work and I got my thermos with my home brewed coffee with me. Although I should be drinking more water.

4.) Pet food - Still buying the food in bigger bulk, and looking for good deals to stock up on the canned food.

Some of these goals I think I have down pretty well. So I am looking forward to next month and making new ones. In the next month and a half we are going to have a shift in my husband's income where we will probably lose around $300 a check. So I will have to keep my budget tight and work real hard to come up with those extra credit card payments. But Christmas shopping is all done, so that will help.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:21 PM

Today is the last day of my 10 day vacation from work. My dog did pretty much what she is doing above for the whole vacation, except for a few walks around the block. I really did have a nice time through it all. My husband was home with me most of the time so we had alot of time together. We stayed up late, slept in late (9:30am for me most days, that is late for me). I took my dog to the dog park, hit CVS a few times, cleaned the house, put up holiday decorations, organized and threw out expired coupons, ate lots of food (well too much), watched tv, played on the computer, sent another payment to the credit card, grocery shopped, and finished up my Christmas shopping. And I stayed in our budget for the whole vacation.

The most annoying part of my vacation came on Friday went I went to shampoo the rugs in my house using my faithful Bissel cleaner I have had for at least 7 years, probably more. I was filling up the one tank with hot water. I looked down to see a part has broken on the rug shampoo dispenser and all the shampoo I had left that was in the machine had run out into the sink. I have no clue how I can fix this and I am not going to spend the money to buy another one right now. So all I could do is dry vacuum the carpet as normal. I will have to see if it is worth it to get it fixed or borrow my mom's until I have the money to get another one.

So in about an hour I have to go in the kitchen and make my lunch for work tomorrow, get up at 4:30am to exercise before I hit my normal rush hour traffic and sit at my cubicle for 10 hours. I will try not to be too sad, I am very grateful I have a good job.

Hope your holidays was a good one.
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Author: Cheryl
•5:11 PM
This is the most shopping I have ever done out of the house on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Did I hit Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc.? NO WAY!

I hit CVS of course. CVS is having a special 3 day sale with tons of things free after your extra care bucks. And I lucked out in my last trip to CVS I scanned my card and got a fantastic coupon for $10 off of a purchase of $50 or more. I have never gotten one of these. So I got my deal all ready the night before.

My CVS opened at 7am on Thanksgiving, so I got up dreary eyed at 6:30am and drove on over. I went into the store at 7am with one other soul there to do the 3 day CVS deals with me. Whew what a crowd!! They had everything I wanted to get and I made out like a bandit and no pushing, shoving or sleeping overnight with crazy people to do so.

When I left with my 8 mile long receipt and all my extra care bucks I saw on the receipt that two of the things I got weren't just a limit of one they were a limit of two. So I went home took a nice two hour nap and got up again to do one more deal. Back to CVS and still they had plenty of everything. I got those two things I hadn't hit my limit on and a few extra's I passed up on the first time.

My take

3 Gatorades
2 Aussie Hair products
1 Johnson & Johnson lotion
2 boxes of Playtex
1 Schick Trimmer
1 Sally Hanson nail polish
1 Covergirl foundation
1 Covergirl pressed powder
2 Colgate toothpastes
2 Bic Soleil razors
1 Hershey bar
2 L'Oreal lip colour
1 Garnier towelettes

My total oop for both trips was $3.00, I used a bunch of coupons, about $30 something in ECB's and got back $60.00 in ECB's I doubled my extra care bucks!!!! I hope they do this every year.

So when I got up this morning my plan as I said was not to go over to crazy Walmart for some ridiculous electronics. I woke up around 9:30am and headed back on over to CVS to just buy some stuff with some of those ECB's I earned. I didn't care this time about earning more bucks back, I just wanted to knock off some presents and just get some things I wanted.

All this below was .52 out of pocket, used about $30 in ECB's and I still earned $5.00 in ECB's back on the bag I bought, and I didn't even know it was a deal.

3 Whitman samplers (well I did have coupons on these, so I got them for $1.99 each, the will go in the gift bags for my mother in law, sister in law and friend)
1 vanilla extract (I used it all up baking over the last few days)
1 bag of tea lights (I had used up all of mine since the cold weather came)
4 cans of cat food (I ran out yesterday and wasn't going for more till the weekend, so I had to get some to tide us over, so you will notice one can is already gone, the cats couldn't wait)
1 Essence of Beauty bag - a gift for my mom, don't worry she doesn't know how to use the Internet, a great bag that came with some great stuff, it was $14.99 with 5 ECB's back.

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Author: Cheryl
•8:22 PM
My digital camera sucking the life out of any batteries I put in it, really put a damper on me having this blog. I hate not having original pictures to put up, so I guess it just made me feel like I didn't want to post.

But I am on vacation at home this week and I have a cold and I decided I am not going to let that stupid camera get in my way. So when I need pictures, I just put the batteries in the camera, take the pictures real quick, transfer them to my computer and then take them out again.

I had quite a great take on deals this weekend. SuperFresh is having their triple coupons and this is a great way to stock up lots of stuff for cheap. I highly recommend that if you have a store nearby that does it, do not pass it up. Pull any coupon you have for under 1.00, make a list of what those q's are and take both with you to the store along with a calculator. Remember a 75 cent coupon triples to $2.25 off one item, that is a great savings.

I went twice over the weekend, a first for me, but I am glad I did cause my 2nd trip was even better than my first. The pictures I took were not of everything I got, just some of it.

1st trip

Chicken thighs (managers special) $2.10
3 Daisy sour cream $1.00 each - .55q tripled = .54 overage on each one!!!
2 Coconut Milk $1.49 each - .75q off two tripled = .74 for both
3 Ziploc Sandwich bags $2.49 each - .55q tripled = .84 each
3 Muir Glen Diced tomatoes $2.19 each - .75q tripled = .06 overage on each one!!!
2 Lipton Vegetable Soup Mix $1.79 each - 75q off two tripled = $1.33 for both
2 Keebler Ready Pie Crusts $1.50 each - .25q tripled = .75 each
1 Orville Red. 10 pk Popcorn $3.99 - .75q tripled = $1.74 for a 10 pk
1 Bertolli Pasta Sauce $1.99 - .75q tripled = .26 overage!
4 Minute Rice Microwavables $1.89 each - .40q tripled = .69 each
4 Whiskas Temptations Cat Treats $1.69 each - .50q tripled = .19 each
1 Pedigree Good Bites dog treats $3.99 - FREE Good Bites Q = FREE
3 Suave Deodorants $1.69 each - .75q tripled = .56 overage

I added a few other non q things in there. My original total after the sales but before the q's was $67.57. After everything I paid $21.55. Not bad at all.

2nd trip.

5 boxes of Hot Pockets 5 for $10.00 - 50q tripled = .50 each
4 Bertolli Pasta sauce $1.99 each - .75q tripled = .26 overage!
3 Whiskas Temptations Cat Treats $1.69 each - 50q tripled = .19 each
4 Suave Deodorants $1.69 each - .75q tripled = .56 overage!
3 Fresh Express Tender Leaf Salads $2.99 each - .75q tripled = .74 each
3 Kleenex with lotion $1.33 each - .40q tripled = .13 each
2 Thai Kitchen Soups $1.50 each - 50q tripled = FREE
4 Fiber One Pastry $2.59 each - .70q tripled = .49 each
4 Celestial Seasoning Teas $2.00 each - 55q tripled = .35 each

Original total after the sales but before the q's was $66.74, total after q's was $10.63

CAN I GET SOME LOVE FROM THE AUDIENCE??!! I love when they have triples.

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Author: Cheryl
•11:53 AM

When I lost my weight, I must have gotten asked at work a hundred times "What is your secret?" This would annoy me to no end. I know they were looking for me to give them some pill or shake that would just knock off all of their weight. So when I told them I lost it the "good old fashioned way", by diet and exercise, they would give me a look of disappointment and then half heartily say "Well good for you".

Alot of people just don't want to do the work to lose and keep off the weight. Well here is my secret "THERE IS NO OTHER WAY, GET OVER IT". Sorry, had to get that off my chest. But I do have some tips that may seem simple but really have been the key to me losing and keeping off the weight and I really feel would help others.

Exercise - You must and I repeat, you must find a form of exercise that you like or can very much tolerate. If you despise running on a treadmill with a passion, don't make that your exercise. If you love to play basketball, play it, and play it several days a week. The only way you are going to keep the interest is if you do some form of exercise that at least slightly entertains you. I don't like playing sports for exercise. I actually like jogging and going on machines to work out. However if I go out jogging I must have my Ipod on and if I go on a machine I must have a TV to watch. Having a DVD player with your TV and a nice collection of your favorite shows and movies makes that 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 45 minutes of exercise fly by. Staring at a wall while you are on a treadmill will make it feel like days.

Diet - Finding foods that are good for you and low in crap but fill you up. Most people as soon as they go on a diet, and I hate that word, cut out everything they normally eat and just eat salads and yogurts. Then they are hungry 10 minutes later. This isn't going to work and isn't going to last. I know now from doing this for a long time what fills me and satisfies me and what doesn't. I will not bring a salad to work for lunch, cause my 3pm I will be gnawing on my desk. So you are going to have to try some things until you find a nice repertoire that works for you.

Some of my foods that really fill me up.

Breakfasts - I love to have Carnation Instant Breakfast, frozen bananas and skim milk in the blender to make a frosty and creamy shake.

Snacks - my mid-morning snack is usually a yogurt (that does work for me), or a cereal bar. Curves makes a great strawberries and cream bar that really satisfies me.

Lunch - A Boca Burger (see picture) with fat free cheese, lettuce, tomato on a wheat hamburger bun.
Big bowl of brown rice, with low fat butter and soy sauce
Egg whites with cheese and tomatoes
Italian Wedding soup with toast

Mid Afternoon Snack - a ziplock bag of dry cereal
Banana and granola bar

Dinner - Dinner, I actually have whatever we are just making that day. But I only have one dish of it, no seconds. I work out 6 days a week so I have my metabolism up enough to not have to deprive myself of what I want for dinner.

Dessert - I am the Queen Of Sugar. I'm serious. I don't do drugs and I rarely drink anymore, so sugar is my vice and one of the loves of my life. I have to have a dessert at the end of the day or I will slowly lose my mind before going to bed. My favorite dessert is ice cream. Breyers, Edy's, Turkey Hill (the local ice creams in my are) all make Slow Churned Light ice creams now. And take it from someone who has tried her fair share of light ice creams and hated them, these new ones are fantastic. They have half the fat and calories of regular ice cream and taste great. They key with light ice creams is to not overindulge on them or you are just doing the same damage as eating the regular stuff. So to combat this I always eat my ice cream on a cone instead of a bowl. It keeps your portions down and the cone fills you up too.

And drinks lots of water.
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