Author: Cheryl
•3:22 PM
Well, Oprah without all the money and all.  As you read in my last post I lack in the shopping gene (well outside of groceries), and I can be pretty cheap with myself.  However, I do have a a few items that I come to just fall in love with madly, and some I have spent a little money on (or got as a gift, that counts, right).

So without further ado, here is My Favorite Things, in case you haven't completed your shopping yet, and you are so pathetic that you would look to me for holiday present advice.




1.)  Butler Bag by Jen Groover 

I originally talked about my fascination about this bag a year or two ago on this blog before I even owned one.  I saw it, knew it was perfect for me.  Since I never want anything my husband was thrilled to have something easy to buy me for my birthday.  It was as simple black bag with the organizer of all organizers inside.  It was love at first site.  That was over a year ago and we are still in love.  I do have to admit I did switch to another bag for a little.  One of those typical bags where everything just gets throw in the bottom of it.  But that lasted about two weeks before it drove me crazy and I went back to my Butler Bag.

The inside of my hybrid Butler Bag contain 6 small compartments and one large compartments.  You can fit several things in each of the small comparts.  I have one that has my Iphone, Ipod and headphones in it.  Another that holds 4 tubes of lipstick/gloss, a compact and a container of hand sanitizer.  The large compartment is great for all sorts of things.  I have a compact umbrella and hairbrush in it, but I have room for more, like a water bottle, scarf, lint roller etc.  There is even room on both sides of the organizer for flat items, like paperwork, full sized notebook, that great novel you are reading or the latest grocery store circular.  There is a zippered change purse and the bag is sturdy and fashionable.




The greatest compliments I have gotten on this bag, for real, have been from security people.  When I have had to open my purse at the airport, concert, tv show, etc., I get the toughest men and women ready to scrutize the contents until I open it up and they all go soft and say "Oh wow, that is the coolest thing I have ever seen".  I'm not kidding.  It has happened just twice last week.

I love my Butler Bag and hope Santa (hint hint) gets me another one in a different color this year.  Please check out Jen's site.  They are worth the price and are cheaper than those fancy foo foo bags all the girls carry in the mall.

Butler Bag by Jen Groover




2.)  Iphone

My husband is an Apple junkie.  If its made by Apple he wants it.  He stood outside the Apple store in line when the Iphone first came out.  He was on it 24/7, he raved, raved, raved about it.  I held my ground and kept my cheap old phone saying I didn't need all that fancy stuff, I just need to make a phone call now and then.  I even called him Paris Hilton when he would text and basically sit glued to the phone where we went.

About a year later my phone really started to die on me and I knew I had to get a new one.  My husband insisted I get an Iphone and promised me I would love it.  I gave in and he drove me right down to the Apple store.  I walked a little bit later with a brand new Iphone 3G (didn't need the 3GS).  I must say the Apple employees are quick and wonderful with your purchases.

At first I just played with what came on the phone and it took me a while to get the hang of it, but I still was convinced I would get overly into it like my husband.  Once I found the App store that all came to an end.  I was addicted.  I loved sorting through the applications I could get for free and purchase that would make my life easier.  Some I didn't like and erased shortly after getting them, but some have become things I can't live without.

Its an amazing phone and I'm sure you heard people whoop and holler all about it, but it really is worth it.  Its my daily organizer, financial planner, internet, e-mail, Ipod, camera, tape recorder, radio, file cabinet, game center, cookbook, map finder, and card store all into one, plus more.  The only thing I am hoping is that Santa brings me a car charger for it, as I tend to burn the little monster into the ground over the course of the day.

So yes, I love my Iphone.  I'm not ashamed to say so.  I highly recommend.





3.)  Hamilton Beach BrewStation

I got my love of drinking coffee from my grandmom.  When I was a teenager I would sleep over her house in the summers and she would make me breakfast.  She would always have instant coffee with her meal.  I loved the smell of it from the beginning.  At first she let me have a sip now and then and as I got older she would let me have a cup now and then.  It wasn't again until I was in my mid twenties that my love of coffee came back.  But the only place I liked to drink it was at a diner.  They have great coffee, don't know why.

My mother in law was the first person I knew who had the Hamilton Beach BrewStation.  I loved the look of it, the lack of glass carafe, and the coffee pouring out of dispenser, all hot when you need it.  I told her how awesome I thought this was.  A few months later guess what I got for Christmas from her?  You got it.  I still have that same BrewStation a few years later.  And I love it.  I am the only one in my house who drinks coffee but it still gets a good use just from me and when I have company over.  It works as good as the day I got it.  Its easy to use, easy to clean and looks good on the counter.

The picture above is the the version I have but Hamilton Beach makes all sorts of versions of BrewStations now.  I highly recommend for the coffee lover in your life.



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Author: Cheryl
•10:04 AM


Over the course of my 37 years of life, I've noticed that I lack in a few areas where women are either supposed to excel in or just go batty for.

And lately I have had the pleasure in meeting some great new friends who really bring these inperfections to my persona up to the light.

1.)  I don't like shoes.  I mean I see ones that look cute.  I see them on other people and think they are cute. But I really only think of one thing when I see shoes, BLISTERS.  New shoes hurt and in my opinion they hurt enough to make me not like them, and not want to buy them.  I am probably one of the only women I know who rarely gives a glance when passing by the window of a shoe store.   I love Sex And The City, but I ain't wearin' the shoes.  I buy a pair of shoes, and wear them until my toes are peaking out the holes.  What you see above is the type of shoe I wear all the time.  I do have a collection of shoes in my closet that look great but I have banned them from my feet cause they just freakin' hurt.  But I hate to be barefoot so I really can't win here.

2.)  I can't accessorize. 

I own 3 belts.  A black belt that is basically falling apart, came free with a pair of pants and has holes I made in it to fit my various sizes my waist has been.  A green belt that again came with an outfit and another black one with rhinestones on it that my husband actually picked out for me at a fancy store in AC.  That is my fancy belt and only comes out on special occasions.   That is it.

Scarves.  My husband had to get me into wearing scarves.  Most women just gravitate towards what the hot trend is and then seek out what they need to make it work.  Not me, I have my husband.  He says  "You should buy some scarves and wear them like all the girls are wearing them now."  He then proceeded to pick some out of me and made me buy them.  He also looked at me with such disgust and disappointment as a woman when I went to wear one one night and had no clue how to wear it. I actually looked on the internet to see how you were supposed to wear one of these.  I still only know one way to wear a scarf.  The others were just too complicated.

3.)  Hair.  I hate going to get my hair cut.  I do love a good cut the next morning when you get to try it yourself for the first time.  But I completely despise sitting in the chair and engaging in that fake conversation with the stylist who really could give a crap about what you doing this weekend but feels the need to ask.  I had an amazing stylist about 10 years ago who not only did great hair but would be pretty engrossed in conversations with the stylist next to her while she did my hair.  So we barely had to talk, she did great hair and then she went and quit the salon to stay home with her kids.  If I could I would seek her out and hire her privately, but I'm poor.    Because of this I wait long periods before I give in to get my hair cut.  The last time I went was in July, yes, JULY.

What spawned this was the conversations I was privy to with these great, fabulous new friends on a day trip to NYC this week. They were discussing great moisturizers and face creams.  Brands that I never heard of.  I realized that I use whatever is cheap or whatever I get for free at CVS.    They make me aspire to be more of a woman or at least try to get my hair cut once a season.

I'm working on it.  To be continued...
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Author: Cheryl
•1:01 PM



I remember last year I made a killing of deals at CVS on Black Friday.  This year it wasn't too bad, but could have been better.  And I did need body wash, so that is always a good find.

1 Schick Quatro  $9.99
1 Vaseline Sheer Infusion  $7.99
1 St. Ives body wash  $3.99
2 Bic Soleil razors  $6.99 each

Total $35.95

Coupons
(1) $1.00 off Schick Quattro
(1) $1.00 off Vaseline lotion
(1) $1.00 off St. Ives body wash
(2) $2.00 off Bic Soleil Razors

ECB's Used $23.95
OOP  $4.95 + tax
ECB's Earned $28.99

Made some extra ECB's.  One of my ECB's didn't work, and that is why I had a $4.95 oop cost.  But still not bad.  Hopefully they keep good sales running for the next few weeks.
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Author: Cheryl
•3:32 PM



We have been pretty well stocked up on some things for a while.  So I just hit ShopRite to take advantage of some sales and the basics.

ShopRite

2 Friendly's ice cream $1.88 each
Cool Whip .99
Salad dressing $1.99
Real Goodness milk $3.69 - $1.00 q = $2.69
4 Texas Toast croutons $1.00 each - $1.00 off 2 q's = .50 each
3 College Inn broths  3 for $2.00 - $1.00 off three = .33 each
1 Mrs. Smith pie  $1.99 - $1.00 q = .99
1 Hefty trash bags $2.24
3 Philadelphia cream cheeses  .99 each - $1.00 off three = .66 each
2 Quaker life cereals  $1.99 each
1 pk of tomatoes $3.99
1 head of lettuce $1.99
1 Gillette shaving cream $1.99 - $1.00 q = .99
2 LA Looks gel  $1.24 - $1.00 q = .24 each
1 Reynolds wrap  $2.49 - $1.00 q = $1.24

Total spent $31.20


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Author: Cheryl
•3:23 PM
Hey I said I was getting back in the game on my blog, but then I put it off again for a bit.  What the heck.

Well here we go.  Back to CVS.  Not bad deals this week, considering the last few weeks they have been absolutely dreadful.





1 Scope Outlast  $3.49
2 Glade Sense & Sprays  $6.00 each = $12.00
1 4 pk Duracell batteries $2.99

Total  $18.48

Coupons
(1) $1.00 off Scope
(2) $4.00 off Glade Sense & Sprays
(1) $1.00 off Duracell

ECB's used $8.00
Total oop $1.77
ECB's earned $7.00

Not a money maker, but I have found lately that not alot of the deals are.  But still good to stock up on some things.  I am hoping the deals get better as the holidays get closer.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:06 PM



I'm back, I'm alive and ready to post. 

I took an unexpected leave of absence from the blog when alot of stuff was going on in our lives.  Been through alot, learned alot.  But everything is good, and ready to get Nice Pumpkins back rolling again.

I did learn through my hiatus that my stockpile was a godsend.  There were many times I could get to or didn't feel like shopping and I had my storage to use.  Unfortunately it took a little hit from that, and now I definitely need to replenish some things.

As for the finances well.......and I have to be honest.......they took a hit too.  I wasn't so good with the credit cards and the emergency fund when my stress increased.   But all you can do is get back on the horse and continue the journey (how cheesy).

So I now continue with the shopping, the couponing, CVS, the deals and back to the debit paying and savings plan.  Stay tuned...  
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Author: Cheryl
•3:09 PM


I went to SuperFresh on Saturday because they were having triple coupons. Been a while since I've been to one of those. And this one didn't work out too bad. I also got some meats, as we needed to stock up.

SuperFresh

2 boxes New York bread products $3.70 - .50 q tripled = $2.20 each
1 pack steaks $4.15
1 Weight Watchers cream cheese $2.59 - .75 q's = .34
2 pks chicken thighs $2.50 and $1.59
1 Blue Bunny ice cream $2.99 - .75 q's = .74
4 Newman's Own dressing $2.50 - .75 q's = .25 each
4 Tabasco sauce $1.89 - .75 q's = Free plus overage
1 Febreeze $2.50 - .75 q's = .25
1 Marzetti cole slaw dressing $2.99 - .75 q's = .74
1 Milk Way Bar = Free with coupon
1 Mr. Clean magic eraser $2.50 - $1.50 = $1.00
1 Oscar Mayer franks = Free with coupon
1 Velveeta cup $1.39 - .55 q's = FREE
4 McCormick spices $2.29 - .75 q's = .04 each

Total spent $20.45





Off to Vercchio's, the produce market, and then to ShopRite to finish up the deals.

Vercchio's
2 bags of tomatoes
3 bags of bananas
1 bag of apples
1 bag of Romaine lettuce
1/2 lb of swiss cheese
1/2 lb of corned beef
1 loaf of rye bread

Total $20.00



ShopRite
3 Land O Lakes lite butter $1.99 - $1.00 q's = .99
1 Land O Lakes Fresh Butter Spread .99 - .55 q's = FREE
4 boxes of Carolina rice .99 - .50 q's = FREE
3 Ocean Spray juices $2.77 - .55 = $1.77

Total $9.44


Total spent $49.89.

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge.

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Author: Cheryl
•1:57 PM

I actually wasn't going to go to CVS this weekend because there were no good ECB deals. But then I went to a favorite site of mine The Thrifty Mama, where she posted that Clairol Natural Instincts haircolor was on sale for only $3.99 and there are $4.00 q's out there from an April RedPlum. I have been wanting to cover up the greys (yikes) for quite a while. I bought three boxes. Two of a nice honey brown color and one of a more striking red. I tried the honey brown today and I really really like it. So thank you so much Thrifty Mama.

3 boxes of Clairol haircolor $3.99
2 cans Campbell's tomato soup $1.00

Coupons
(3) $4.00 off any Clairol haircolor

Total oop $1.84
ECB's used NONE
ECB's earned ZERO

But I got free haircolor. So it was worth it.
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Author: Cheryl
•1:47 PM

Got to ShopRite nice and early today to get the super cheap trashbags and plates. Good thing I did. Got there around 8:30am and they only had four boxes of the trash bags left.

ShopRite

1 Rotisserie chicken $3.99
2 boxes Blue Bunny ice cream sandwiches $1.99 - $1.00 q's = .99 each
2 Tree Ripe OJ's $1.77 each
3 Eggland's best eggs $1.77 - .35 q's = $1.07 each
4 sets of Chinet casual plates $1.24 - $1.00 q's = .24 each set
3 Hefty trash bags $1.24 - $1.00 q's = .24 each
2 Hefty one zip bags $1.67 - $1.00 off 2 q's = $1.07 each
1 ShopRite aluminum foil $1.49
3 2000 Flushes $1.49 - $1.00 q's = .49 each
2 bags Goodlife dry cat food $4.99 - $3.00 q's = $1.99 each
3 ShopRite American cheese singles $1.49 each
2 Dannon Light N' Fit 6 pks $1.49 -.75 q's = .49 each
2 Light Silk soy milks $1.99 - $1.00 q's = .99 each
1 Kotex tampons $2.49 - $1.00 q's = $1.49
1/2 lb roast beef $4.15
1/2 lb Swiss cheese $2.64 (for the man's lunch on school days)

Total $41.86

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge.
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Author: Cheryl
•10:36 AM

I ran into my mom in ShopRite last week. She had just come from The Dollar Tree next door and gave me the bad news. The sign on the store said that The Dollar Tree would no longer be selling the Philadelphia Inquirer, our major newspaper. I was shocked and was hoping it was just that one Dollar Tree. I stopped in another one near my house the next day, and saw that there newspaper bin was nowhere to be found. I also checked on the internet and found others in this whole area were told the same thing. The Inquirer recently filed for bankruptcy. So I guess they couldn't afford to give them away for a buck.

So that is the end to that money saving tip. Having to only pay $4.00 for four Sunday or early Saturday papers with all the good coupons is gone. I have been told that some Walmart's sell the Saturday edition at a discount, so I will check it out. If not, its back to my old way of paying $7.00 for four of them at Wawa. Still not terrible considering all the money you save with the coupons, but still stings.
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Author: Cheryl
•10:39 AM

Because we took a few weeks off from shopping and lived off our stockpile, the last of my ECB's were going to expire. So my husband needed a few things and I let him use the last of them up to keep his out of pocket low.

So now here we are back to the beginning, no ECB's and having to build them back up from scratch. The great thing is holiday weekend's are the best time to build them back up. CVS tends to have lots of great Free after ECB deals on holiday weekends. So I picked several items I had coupons for, had to pay way more than I usually do out of pocket. But now I will be back in the swing of paying very little in the future.

1 Revlon nail polish $3.99
1 Playtex Sport tampons $3.99
2 boxes Band Aids $2.99 each
1 Clearasil face wash $3.99

Coupons
(1) $1.00 off any Revlon product
(1) $1.00 off any Playtex Sport
(2) $1.00 off any Band Aid product
(1) $1.00 off any Clearasil product

Total oop $13.65
Total ECB's earned $13.99
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Author: Cheryl
•8:02 AM

Hey back again. Trying to get back in the swing of things. Had some things to take care of so I was really happy to have our stockpile to live on for about two weeks. But now it is time to get back in the grocery game.

My husband I went to ShopRite last night to avoid the holiday crowds this weekend and we didn't do pretty bad for our first time back out. I let him pick some stuff out for BBQ'ing this weekend. Sorry the picture is darker, it was later in the evening so the lighting was off.

ShopRite

1 Friendly's ice cream $1.99
5 boxes of Purina Kitten Chow $2.19 each - Free Kitten Chow coupons = FREE
3 Kraft BBQ sauces .89 each - $1.00 q's = FREE with overage
1 Hunt's ketchup $1.00 with Free Hunt's ketchup coupon = FREE
1 Friendship Priobiotic cottage cheese $1.64 - $1.00 q = .64
2 Penn Maid sour creams $1.00 each - $1.00 off 2 q = .50 each
2 Johnsonville Brats $1.99 each - $1.00 off 2 q = $1.49 each
6 Yoplait Whips yogurts .41 each
4 Bar S packs of hot dogs $1.00 each - $1.00 off 2 q's = .50 each
5 McCormick grilling seasoning packs 5 for $4.00 - .50 q's = FREE
1 soy sauce $2.29
1 rotisserie chicken $5.99
2 Hormel Chili masters $2.64 - $1.00 q's = $1.64 each
1 French's mustard $1.89 - .50 q's = .89
2 packs of ribs (let the husband pick these out for BBQ'ing) $21.19 total
4 jars pasta sauce $1.00 each
2 bags of rice from Walmart $1.19 each

Total spent $53.31
Just a pinch over budget. But not bad for my first week back in the game and for taking the man along. He doesn't like to buy cheap meats.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:49 AM

Sorry I haven't been posting lately. More on that later.

But I just found out last night that one of my favorite shows My Name Is Earl has been cancelled by NBC. Its ridiculous, as its a fantastic show with one of the best characters ever on television, Joy Turner. There is talks that maybe ABC or Fox could pick it up like they did with Scrubs, but who knows if that will happen.

What can you do? Write NBC and if you belong to Twitter please follow @EarlTwitition save the show!
SAVE EARL!
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Author: Cheryl
•4:11 PM

As you can see from my previous grocery list that I got 5 bags of Quaker Quakes free at Acme. So I couldn't resist giving the ranch flavor a try this weekend.

Quaker Quakes are just small flavored rice cakes. But the taste of the ranch is outstanding. I liken it to a healthier version of the Cool Ranch Dorito, which I haven't let myself have in years. I have no self control. So needless to say I burned through the bag of Quakes just as quickly. But I felt a little better since they have less fat and calories. It made what usually is a boring and ordinary rice cake a heck of alot better. I have yet to try the other flavors I bought, caramel, chocolate and cheese. Oh and the man liked them too. That is quite a compliment coming from a man who doesn't like the healthier version of anything.

These would make a great bowl filler for your next party or game if you have someone who is looking for a slightly healthier snack than potato chips or cheese curls.
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Author: Cheryl
•12:56 PM


Decided to go out on Saturday, even though it was miserable and raining and get a few things. I needed litter so I had to stop at Acme, something I rarely do.

Acme

5 bags of Quaker rice cakes $1.00 each - $1.00 q's = Free

Total = Zero

SuperFresh was having a sale I had never seen before, they will double up to 5 $1.00 coupons per visit. So that means $2.00 off an item. I used that to get some cheap frozen veggies we needed.

SuperFresh
10 Hanover frozen vegetable bags 2 for $3.00 = $1.00 off 2 q's doubled = .50 each
3 pks of ground chicken $1.49 each (manager's special)
1 pk of 4 beef eye round steaks $3.15 (manager's special)
1 pk of beef chuck roast $2.91
1 pk of chicken legs $1.37

Total$16.90

Then I had to hit the product market. I had deprived my husband long enough of oranges. He loves them. I also got some lunchmeat, as my man started school last week and he needs something to eat for the two days he is there way past dinner.

Vercchio's
3 bags of oranges
1 bag of potatoes
1/2 lb of ham
1/2 lb of American cheese
1 bag of celery hearts

Total $12.14


Stopped at ShopRite on Sunday to use up the last of our budget.

ShopRite
4 bags of rice $1.00 each
4 cans of Spot Shot $1.99 - .55 q's = .99 each
1 Frigo string cheese $3.49
2 Taylor pork rolls $1.49 each
1 Turkey Hill ice cream $2.74 - $1.00 q = $1.74
2 boxes of pancake mix $1.49 each
1 Cascade rinse FREE with coupon in mail

Total $19.30

Total budget $48.34. Under budget is good.

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge.
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Author: Cheryl
•10:57 AM

My dryer is getting fixed as we speak. Belt was shot and needed new ball bearings, which was exactly what went wrong with my mom's dryer, and we have the same model. We have both had our dryers for years, so they are well beyond warranty. Total cost for repairs and labor $160.00 which is still cheaper than a new dryer. And I had set that money aside in our budget with our last paycheck, so we didn't have to touch the emergency fund.

I have to admit. I cannot live without the dryer. Yes, we have dramatically cut down our use of it in the past 6 months, but to go at least two to three weeks without it at all was not fun. For towels, it is a must. My towels came out like rocks hanging on the line down the basement, even with fabric softener added to the rinse water. I cannot hang a clothesline outside for many reasons. My mom actually washed and dried our towels twice for us. Thanks mom.

This past weekend our toilet overflowed sending water all over the bathroom floor and then seeping some into the basement. We had to use every sweet smelling towel my poor mom just cleaned for us to sop up the water. I didn't want to make her wash all these wet towels again, so I did washed them myself and hung them all on the line. It took days for them to dry and when done we had fabric bricks.

As for the regular clothes, we only throw them in the dryer for 5 minutes when they first come out of the washer to get the wrinkles out, and then I throw them in another 5 minutes when they are all line dry the next day just to soften them up. And believe me I noticed a difference these last few weeks in not getting to do it. They felt much harder, had more wrinkles.

We are still living without a dishwasher. And that hasn't been too bad at all. The dishes still come out clean by hand. But my dryer, I need it. Case closed. Welcome back friend.

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Author: Cheryl
•11:00 AM

Being the owner of 7 pets and a former animal rescuer and shelter volunteer, it is well known amongst most of my friends and colleagues that I like my furry creatures.However that doesn't stop some of them from doing things about animals or saying things about animals that makes me lose my mind, pull out my hair, or bite my tongue until it bleeds.Let me give you some examples. This might give you a clue on what not to say to an animal lover.

What you shouldn't do

1.) A picture of a dead deer that someone hunted hanging over their desk is not awesome to me. A picture of a dead deer that your sister sent you with a funny sign over it is still not funny.

2.) Telling me how you are getting your cat declawed even though I gave you 800 other options to do instead is not a wise move. If you are going to do it anyway, just don’t tell me you did it. And don’t tell me not to judge you if you do it anyway. You tell me, I will judge.

3.) #2 also applies to buying from a pet store or add in the paper instead of a shelter, getting your dogs ears or tail cropped, giving it up to a shelter cause it peed on your rug, or putting it to sleep because you don’t want to spend the money to get it medical attention. If you don’t want to hear a peep out of me, never tell me it happened.

4.) Start off a sentence with “I know you love animals, but…” is never a good again. Again “Silence is Golden”.

5.) Don’t come to me or send me info on an animal you found that you need to find a home for and threaten me with “if I don’t find a home for it in 5 days, I am taking it to the shelter”. Emotional blackmail does not make you my friend.

6.) Don’t tell me animal horror stories, or a bad report you saw on the news. I see plenty of them myself. In that case, misery doesn’t want any more company.

What you should do

1.) Treat my love of pets with respect. You don’t have to feel the same way or understand why I do. But respect my opinion.

2.) Feel free to come to me for suggestions on helping you with finding a pet in a shelter or rescue.

3.) Ask me advice on dealing with pets behavior. I’m not an expert, but with 7 cats I got a pretty good handle on what they do. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it out from someone for you.

4.) Know that getting a pet is a responsibility you should honor for the rest of its life. It is not a “starter child”

5.) Adopting one from a shelter or rescue does require some paperwork, some money and some checking into your background. Don’t expect the shelter or rescue to bend over backwards for you and just give you a pet if you say Boo and hand them money. They want to find the best home for the animal they have been taking care of for weeks or months. You have to prove you are a good owner and have a good home. If you are not approve, don't bad mouth shelters and rescues in general. You may have just not been the right fit for that dog, that shelter or that rescue. There are others.

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Author: Cheryl
•12:19 PM

Since we last talked there has been some progress with my headaches. Once I got my new glasses they have started going down, but are not gone. They don't come with as much intensity anymore, and the sides of my head and eyes don't burn anymore. But I still get tightness in my scalp and the back of my head and my ears hurt alot when I get them. I also have had almost 3/4's of a day or two without any pain. So having the decrease has really helped in me dealing with them every day and has really helped with being at work. So maybe its getting better on its on, but its still awfully slow. Its been over a month.

I go today for an MRI. Its just a precautionary thing my neurologist wants to start off with. Oh yes I went to a neurologist. So we will see what he thinks.

The medications my general practice doctor gave me two weeks ago for the headaches so messed up my system. I will never take that stuff again.

My husband swears I am going to fall asleep in the MRI machine. I can sleep pretty easily. But I don't think that will be happening with all of the banging noises and technician talking to me.

Keep you updated.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:39 PM

I do have a bone to pick with CVS. This week Band Aid bandages were on sale. The ad says Band Aids on sale starting at $1.00.

So lots of people I know went to CVS today with their $1.00 q's in hand looking for free Band Aids. No one, not even one person I have seen on the internet has found a package of Band Aids at CVS cheaper than $3.49, not even the trial sizes.

Now I know it says starting at $1.00, but that should at least mean at least something does actually start at that price. Its misleading, annoying and in my opinion a little bit of a trick to get you in the store to get them anyway. It has happened with other products before and I'm sure it will again.

So I was skeptical of this Band Aid and Neosporin prices advertised. The Neosporin was no where near the prices it said it would start at either. So I came up with two deals this week. One with those products included and one without. And of course I didn't do the one with them. I was very glad I had a backup, even though it didn't earn me alot of ECB's.

1 Garnier hair spray $2.99
(I am so overloaded with shampoos right now, gonna stick with the stylers for a while)

1 Schick Intuition razor $8.99 (big fan of these, if you read my earlier review)

Total $11.98

Coupons
(1) $1.00 off any Garnier
(1) $4.00 off any Schick

ECB's used $5.00
Total oop $2.47
ECB's earned $6.00

So I earned a dollar, whoopee, and I spent a little more oop than my old under a dollar average. But it was good to have a backup, cause the deals don't always pan out the way you see them in the ad.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:36 AM

Back in the saddle again kids and you can't get a better week than this. I paid zero for groceries, yes zero for everything you see on this page. Wednesday was Administrative Professional's day. And yes, I am an administrative professional, or whatever they are calling me this year. My company always does nice things for us for this day and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were still doing it this year, even with the economy.

They gave us flowers, actually African Violets in a basket, a $50.00 Amex gift card and they took us out to lunch.

So I decided to use my gift card for my groceries this week, for a zero out of pocked total. Awesome.

I decided to go to ShopRite Friday night to pick up some of the sales I missed last weekend when we were out celebrating out anniversary. I knew that some of my deals may not pan out, since I was going 5 days after they started and they might be out of some stuff by then. I also made a boo boo in two items that cost me a few dollars.

ShopRite Trip #1

1 bag of Combo's FREE (won this coupon on their website contest)
1 bag of Marcal napkins $1.49 - $1.00 q = .49
1 8th Continent Soymilk $2.99 - $1.00 q = $1.99
1 box of Eggo Waffles $1.33 - .75q (I only had one left) = .33
1 Edy's ice cream $2.74
4 Great Lakes cheese .88 each
8 Breyers YoCrunch yogurts .50 each -.50 off four q's = .25 each
2 Reynolds aluminum foil $2.99 - .50 q's = $1.99
1 bag of Tyson chicken strips $3.99 (not pictured, they were out of rotisserie chickens by the time I got there and the dog needed chicken in her food, so I was forced to get them)
2 Ortega box of tacos $3.00 - .75 off two q's = $1.00 each
3 Suave shampoos .66 each - $1.75 off three q's = .07 each !!!
1 bottle of olive oil $2.99

2 bags of Dole blueberries $4.99 each - .75 q's = $3.99 - this is the part I messed up. I grabbed the wrong bags. The 16 oz bags were supposed to be $2.99 each - .75 q's= would have been only $1.99 each and you got a $2.00 catalina back on your next order. I still got the catalina cause I still bought Dole fruit, but I spent more on the fruit than I should have. You live and learn.

Total put on Amex GC $30.87

$19.13 left to spend and a $2.00 catalina to use.

Back to ShopRite on Sunday for their new weekly deals and to use up what is left of my gift card.



ShopRite Trip #2

2 gallons of OJ $1.99 each
1 Breyers $1.99 (customer appreciation coupon)
2 Poppy's pierogies .99 each
2 Melitta coffees $1.99 - $1.00 q's = .99 each
2 Friendship sour creams $1.29 - $1.00 off 2 q's = .79 each
2 Bagelfuls $2.39 - $1.00 q's = $1.39
1 pack of Mission burrito shells

Total put on Amex gift card $15.62

So technically my budget was $46.49. But I spent NOTHING!

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge.

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Author: Cheryl
•8:20 AM


I explain the picture in # 4. Well its supposed to be in the 80's today and absolutely gorgeous. My husband has to work at 11am and then he has to cover the Flyer's playoff game at 3pm. So its just me and my day. I really don't have to clean the house, as we did that Thursday night because of the TV crew coming over.

1.) I dropped the dog off at the groomer's at 7:30am. She should be done and smelling good by 9:30am.

2.) There is a craft show/car show in the town over starting at 9am. I could buzz my dad and see if he wants to go. He loves to walk around those things.

3.) I do have to exercise at some point and should probably do that before it gets hot. Yes, in the 80's is hot for me.

4.) I need to change some light bulbs outside. Seems they all decided to blow at exactly the same time and going in my yard at night has become a "Who can see in the dark" sport. The light near my back door, as you can see in the picture above, has become a home for a bird to have her babies. I have noticed this happening over the past week and she has built quite a nest. I haven't actually seen the bird or any babies yet. She seems to do her best work while I am at work. I really need this light to see down my back stairs but I don't have the heart to tear down her work just for that. So I will just change the other bulbs for now.

5.) I should probably clean off my patio and give the patio furniture and grill a good scrubbing. I do have a love for hosing things off. I could play outside all day with a power washer if I had one. I love them. I once borrowed my dad's old washer and I must have been out there for hours. Its a great way to clean things without using any elbow grease.

6.) I put aside some money to get my dryer fixed. I really need to have it back. My towels come out like rocks without it and I feel bad dragging them over my mom's house to dry for me. I will call the repair man today and see when he can come out.

I wish I had audio on here, so you could hear the snoring contest between my husband and my one persian cat. She is giving him a good run for his money.

So we shall see where the day takes us. I love days like this.
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Author: Cheryl
•7:59 AM

A local TV news crew is coming to my house today to interview my parents and brother for a health story. My brother asked to borrow my house as I have a nice big room for the interview and my house is, shall I say, less crowded and little neater than my parents house.

I have spent the evening cleaning, and made sure everything is in its place. Please don't let my husband or pets muck it up before they come. I told my mom to give it a once over when she gets there. The picture above is how it looked about 5 years ago, we have painted over my beloved checkered wall since (long story) but its not too far off in the same design.

I told my dad before I left. "Don't embarrass the family." Oh boy.


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Author: Cheryl
•3:34 PM

With using a portion of our emergency fund, putting some money aside for our little anniversary excursion (which was fun) and all the doctors stuff with my head in this past few weeks, I feel off track with our whole financial budget world and I don't like it.

I am looking forward to getting back on track. However I do have a couple of extra things I have to add to our budget in the next few weeks. I have a pet that needs to go to the vet, a dog that needs to be groomed, a dryer that desperately needs to be repaired and my husband is going back to school so a portion of that needs to be paid.

I want to get our emergency fund back up to where it was and above. I want to keep up on the credit card snowballs as much as I can with putting more into the emergency fund. I want to get back to my normal grocery shopping and our normal budget amounts without all the extras. I want to get back to making weekly menus and building back up my ECB's with CVS.

Hopefully when I get paid this Friday it seems a little more like old times.

Patience my child. Patience.
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Author: Cheryl
•5:16 PM

Now I didn't do any grocery shopping today, but I did hit CVS. I had no coupons to take with me for this deal, as there wasn't one for the shaving cream and the only one out there for the Pantene was a printable and I don't have a printer at home. But I did hear later that even people that did print it out had trouble with it.

So I did use up a bit of ECB's but I really wanted the Tresemme shampoo. They are huge bottles. Soon I will have to build back up my ECB's. There was also a great deal on Bayer crystals, but they were no where to be found at my local store.

3 bottles of Tresemme $10.00
1 edge shaving cream $2.89

No coupons used.

ECB's used $12.48
Total oop .41
ECB's earned $7.89
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Author: Cheryl
•8:19 PM
We spent a lovely day and a half in Philly for our anniversary. So I decided to skip our grocery shopping this week and use that money for our little trip. We had plenty in our stockpile that we will be just fine until next week.

A few quick pictures of our great time in a city we both love and are lucky to live 5 minutes from.






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Author: Cheryl
•8:51 AM


Years ago, I fell in love with one of my closest friends. He was cute, loyal, intelligent, and the most insanely funny person I had ever met. We hung out all the time and got along famously. We tried to go on one date and it was just so unbelievably awkward, mostly due to my shyness. So I had resigned that we were better off being friends. I watched him date other women and kept supporting him through anything he wanted to do or pursue. All the more falling more in love with him every day.

I knew one day being his friend would result in the hardest day of my life. Having to watch him marry the woman of his dreams. I had no clue how I would ever be able to handle it but I knew I would have to because I was his friend.

10 years ago today on April 17th, he did go to a church and marry who I hope is the woman of his dreams. But it wasn’t a hard day at all for me. Little would I have known when we were first friends, that the woman he would marry one day would be me.

You see I got over my shyness, and eventually went after that cute, and insanely funny guy. And I don’t regret that decision for one moment.

Today we have been married for 10 years and together for 14. He is still my absolute best friend, partner, husband and the greatest guy in my life since my father. I still get excited when he walks in the door after a game. I still brush my hair and check my makeup before I come in the house after work to see him.

Through him I have a beautiful and amazing mother in law, and memories of the sweetest father in law, that I adored more than life. He has given me confidence, a much wittier sense of humor, and knocked an extremely huge amount of shyness out of me. He makes me feel beautiful, loved, listened to, and understood.

So enough sappiness, we have a day to celebrate here, and that is what we plan to do.


Happy 10th Anniversary to the love of my life and best friend.
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Author: Cheryl
•9:20 AM

As you may have read on here previously, I have been having headaches. I have been getting kinda bummed about them lately and writing about them is therapeutic. Maybe some of you might even have some suggestions for me.

They started on March 29th, a Sunday evening. Just thought I had a regular headache. Went to bed. About an hour after waking up on Monday it came back. Took some generic medicine but it was still on an off all day. The next day woke up feeling awful, stuffy, sore throat, and eventually the headache. Stayed home from work. Also stayed home on Wednesday but the stuffy and throat part were getting better. Went to my primary doctor on Thursday where he said I had a slight fever and figured I had allergies. Gave me Clarinex and told me to take Excedrin for the headache. I took both for 3 days and the headache stayed. The cold part eventually went away on its own.

I am now on day 18 of this.

Here is what it is like:

I feel great when I sleep and when I first get up. They start about an hour and a half to two hours after I get up.

It is a tightening on my scalp and around my head. And sometimes it moves around to my forehead, or down the back of my neck. Sometimes my eyes burn and it wears me out and my head feels hot.

Its not an agonizing pain, like a migraine, more like an annoying grating thing on and off all day.

It feels better when I chew gum, eat food, take a nap or use cold compresses.

I have tried every kind of Excedrin (extra strength, Migraine, Tension). I have taken two Fiorcet a day for 3 days, nothing.

I went to my eye doctors last week as I had problems with headaches while wearing contact lenses about a year ago. Those headaches also didn't go away with medicine, only when I took the contacts out. Since then I have worn glasses and for months had no problems with them. My eye doctor isn't sure its my eyes but he is giving me a lesser strength prescription and added glare protection to the glasses. I am currently waiting for the new glasses to come in and am stuck until then wearing the old ones. I can barely see a thing without glasses so I can't go a whole day without wearing them to see if that is the cause.

I am waiting to hear back from my thyroid doctor to see how my levels are. I do have hypothyroidism (I sound like an old lady, don't I). But have not taken any meds for it, as I have never had symptoms. But both my primary and eye doctor suggested I get checked with him again.

I also have an appt with a neurologist on the 22nd, just in case we don't find out what it is before then. Which is good cause I called 7 other neurologists and the soonest they could get me in was May.

So on we go. I'm trying to be a tough girl about it, but it just gets annoying. My husband is a doll in dealing with me with these headaches. But I would just like to be normal again for both me and him.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:26 PM


I'm so glad you got to see it. We will miss you Harry.


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Author: Cheryl
•9:52 AM

As I mentioned in my grocery shopping post, I have been having headaches. I've had a tension headache now for 14 days. We are pretty much convinced it is eye strain, as me and my eyes have never been too friendly. And the headache gets better when I sleep and when my glasses are off my head. So after seeing my regular doctor and medicine not working, I made an appointment with my eye doctor.

He is an awesome doctor and checks every inch of my eyes and runs every test. And he recommended lowering my prescription and putting some glare protection on my lens. And that meant new glasses. I already used my eye insurance allowance for the year, so all I had left was our vision discount plan under our medical. And under that plan it was cheaper for me to get a whole new set of frames and lenses than replace the lens I have. Plus I would be without glasses if I had to get the ones I had replaced.

So we ordered new ones and of course it cost a little bit of money. So we had to use a little of our emergency fund. Right before I paid I must have stared at my wallet for 10 minutes trying to figure out some way not to use the emergency fund. That is when my husband said "Hey, this is what we have the fund for. Your eyes and head are killing you. It is okay for you to use the fund for this.".

So the fund dipped down a little bit. It is just a hair under $1000 and we still are putting money in it every check. So we will get it back up there soon.

The next day my dryer started making a horrible noise. They say when it rains it pours. My mom has the same dryer model and when her's made the same noise a year ago, she needed new ball bearings in it. We have an awesome little repair guy that will come and do it. But with the dryer I can last a little while without it. I do have to get it fixed sooner than the dishwasher, cause our towels are coming out like rocks when we line dry them. So we are going to wait until our next paycheck and budget in the money for that repair and not touch the EF for this. Once is enough for me for now.

So I can't say enough about having an emergency fund. If you don't have one, please start it now. You won't regret it.


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Author: Cheryl
•4:01 PM

Been a long rough two weeks. I've had a tension headache for days. Been to the doctor, taking medicine. Husband has forbid me from watching tv or going on the computer today since we think it is eye strain. So I snuck on here after he left for the Flyers game to post my deals. I wasn't even going to go shopping this morning, but I asked my husband to take me since I am not wearing my glasses to give my eyes a break. We hit two different stores.



SuperFresh
4 Eggo's .99 each - .75 q's = Free plus overage
1 box Barilla piccollini pasta .89 - .50 q's = Free with overage
2 pks of seasoned chicken breasts $2.93 and $3.98
1 pk of hot Italian sausage $3.62
1 pork tenderloin $5.83
1 big package of chicken breasts $7.32

Total $21.53

Over to ShopRite. I usually get there around 8am. But today didn't get there until 11:30. And I couldn't believe how empty it was. Guess everyone was out celebrating Easter. Since the man was with me I let him pick out the fruit and the bagels. I didn't want to drag him over to the produce market. He was nice enough to drag my blind butt around.

ShopRite
2 Turkey Hill ice creams $1.79 - $1.00 q's = .79 each!!
12 Breyers yogurts 3 for .99 - .50 off 4 q = .96 for 12!!!
2 Tropicana OJ's $2.47 - $1.00 q's = $1.47 each
4 Ziploc bags 2 for $3.00 - .55 q's = .50 each
2 Kotex tampons 2 for $5.00 - .75 q's = $1.50 each
1 Perdue flavor bites $2.99 - $1.00 q = $1.99
1 bag of oranges $2.99
1 bag of grapes $4.38
1 loaf of white bread .99
1 loaf of wheat bread $1.49
1 bag of bagels $2.50

Total $26.20

Total spent $47.53. Under budget and still got lots of great stuff. Now time to get off the computer, grab my cold compress, take my meds and take a nap. Pray for better head feelings this week. Its an important week.

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge

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Author: Cheryl
•11:44 AM



I know, another stinkin razor review. Its one of the few things in my stockpile of things I get cheaply that seem to stand out in my mind when I use a new kind. So I feel the urge to review it. Maybe I'm obsessed with getting a good shave on my legs. Who knows.

In all my stockpile of razors, I always avoided using the Intuition, as they looked so awesome, I wanted to save them for last. I finally decided a few weeks ago to break one open and give it a try.

The Intuition has 3 blades and has a skin conditioning solid that surrounds the blade. When you get the solid wet it lathers up a little so you don't need shaving cream or a moisturizer. What an awesome concept.

So what did I think about it? I absolutely loved it for its innovation, and handiness. It did leave my legs silky smooth, didn't knick or cut them. Yet I had two problems with it. With the conditioning solid around the razor I found it a little bulky to get it into the small corners of your body for a close shave. But the funniest problem I had with it is because of my eyes.

I have horrendous eyesight and wear glasses every day. Of course I can't wear them in the shower, although I have left them on a few times and realized shortly after the water hits my face. Brilliant huh? So when I put shaving cream on my legs and shaved, I could see what part of my legs I completed shaving by where the cream had been removed. Well with the Intuition, you don't use shaving cream so it doesn't really leave a marker for me to tell me where I have completed. So I had to improvise and just run my hand on my leg to see where I still need to complete and where I may haven't done it well enough. I know weird problem, its fun being almost blind. That isn't Schick's fault.

But overall I really love the Intuition and will definitely use it and buy it again. Its just a fantastic idea for traveling too, because you don't need to pack a bulky can of shaving cream.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:29 PM

I didn't even know what to call this post, as I have so much going on in my head right now.

I had been so torn since hearing Suzie Orman's recent advice that if you don't have a sufficient emergency fund that you should work on that first before paying down credit card debt. I knew she was right considering the current conditions. But it just saddened me to put my debt marathon on hold for a while after doing so well on it in these last few months. It has taken me a few days to swallow my pride and go along with the advice.

So I came home from work with a new yet slightly sad attitude of lets work more on the emergency fund first and then back to the debit snowball. My husband agreed.

Then I opened the mail...............

I'm gonna try to keep this post PG rated. But if this South Jersey girl could curse freely right now, your ears would be ablaze. What I feared would happen did. Bank of America, card #7 and the biggest balance and last of my debt snowball is raising my APR by 8%.

JHGH!!!FJ*%$GY%#TGVU!!!!

I had worried this would happen. That is my biggest balance and is going to make my monthly payment bigger. I had heard the horror stories, kept my fingers crossed. But our luck finally ran out. I so would love to cancel the card, but I only have two cards and don't want to completely kill my credit score. I've even thought about getting a side job to pay this down. But then most people can't find one job let alone, me thinking I can have two.

So, how do I feel.....

I am angry at myself for ever have accumulated credit card debt. What an idiot.

I am starting to regret that I didn't pay BOA of first and instead went for the smaller balanced cards.

I am angry at BOA for knocking people down further when they are just trying to get up.

I am annoyed that I have stop my debt snowball to build my emergency fund faster, although I know its the right move.

I am tired, feeling very defeated and my head still hurts.

I need a few days to regroup, pick my self up, dust myself off and get back on the horse again.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:47 AM

Its been a while since I did well at CVS. And some weeks I have skipped in entirely. But this week I decided to come back with a vengeance. The shaving cream actually inspired me to go as I never find too many great deals on it. And I love any spray that makes my house smell good.


2 Glade Infusions $1.50 each
2 Excedrin Migraines $1.99 each
2 Skintimate shaving cream $3.49
1 Colgate Max White $2.99

Coupons
(2) $1.00 off any Glade odor eliminator
(2) $2.00 off any Excedrin Migraine
(1) .50 off any Colgate

Total ECB's used $6.98
Total oop .17
Total ECB's earned $5.49 +.50 from my winter total spending = $5.99 ECB's
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Author: Cheryl
•8:49 PM

I hit SuperFresh on Saturday as I read up there was cheap to free pasta, almost free salad dressing and a sale on ground meat, which we were completely out of.

SuperFresh
4 boxes Barilla Piccolini .89 - .50 q's = .11 overage on each one!!
4 boxes Barilla whole grain pasta .89 - $1.00 off 2 = .39 each
3 Kraft salad dressings 3 for $5.00 - (3) $1.50 q's = .16 each
A little over 6 lbs of ground meat = $11.60

Total = $13.22



ShopRite
1 Kashi entree = FREE with coupon I got in mail
4 Ban deodorants .99 each - .75 q's = FREE
5 Vitamin waters $1.00 each - $1.00 q's = FREE
2 Breyers ice creams $1.99 each
2 Land O'Lakes butters $1.88 each - .55 q's = .88 each
2 pks of strawberries $1.49 each
2 Pretzelfils $1.84 - .75 q's = .84 each
2 Pepperidge Farm granola cookies $1.79 - $1.00 q's = .79 each
1 Spot Shot carpet cleaner $2.49 - $2.00 q = .49
1 18 inch pizza $5.99 and you get a free Canada dry 2 liter with it
4 Hefty one zips $1.88 each - $1.00 off 2 q's = $1.38 each
1 soy sauce $2.69

Total $27.09

Vercchio's Produce Market
1 bag of oranges
1 bag of spinach
1 bag of green peppers
2 heads of lettuce
1 bag of tomatoes

Total $8.75

Total spent for week $49.06. Finally, back under budget. Now I'm off to wash my car.

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge
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Author: Cheryl
•11:46 AM
I finally tried Walgreens last Sunday. Unfortunately I was sick for a few days this week so I haven't gotten a chance to post about it until now. I really don't know if I am ready to get into the rebates and register rewards. And then I heard a rumor that they might not continue soon anyway. So I just went to get a few things that were a good deal with coupons.

2 Reynold's wrap Free after Walgreen and manufacturer coupons
1 Glade candle FREE after Wag and MC coupons
3 cans of chicken brother (we were out of them)

The total I paid was $3.00. So it wasn't bad for that. I will keep my eye out if they have anything good each week. But I think I will stick with CVS. I just don't have alot of free time to learn the ins and out of both places at once.
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Author: Cheryl
•11:46 AM
I have been a big follower of Suzie Orman for quite a while. I have read some of her books, watch the show on Saturday night. But I have to say I don't do everything she says.

Yesterday, Suzie was on Oprah with her new advice with the recession. She completely reversed her decision on paying off your debt to building your savings first instead and just giving the minimum to all cards until that is done. I don't think I can completely go along with this. I understand her urgency to get people to build their savings. I just increased again our amount going to savings as we definitely are a long way from our fully funded emergency fund, but I am just not ready to give up on our credit card debt reduction.

I have come so far, and we have both worked hard to get it down. I am loving the results and still feel this is a good part of the process. I still feel we can do both. So as of today, I increase our savings but continue building the snowball.

How did her advice sit with you?
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Author: Cheryl
•11:04 AM

I have been home from work for two days sick. I have an awful headache and other things on my head hurt. I hope I don't have a sinus infection. If its not gone by tomorrow off to the doctors I go. Fun, fun, fun. It does bother me just to stare at a computer, so I will make our financial update for April short.

1.) Pay off credit cards # 4 and 5. #4 has been gone for a little bit. Already sent our first snowball payment to #5. We have paid over a 1/3 of our total credit card debt off in 6 months, which is not too bad.

2.) Have emergency fund at $1500 by end of year. We are now up to $1212.75. Right on track to meet the $1500 goal by the end of the year, probably sooner.

3.) Buy chest freezer and stock with deals for dinners at home. Been done and keeping it full.

4.) Stop buying certain pre-made products and make them from scratch at home.

Laundry Detergent - Just a few bottles left and then we will start making it from scratch.

Fabric Softener - Still got quite a few of them left. I cut them in half, so they last me pretty long.

Household cleaners - Still have alot of those. I wouldn't be surprised if they last me until the end of the year.

Syrup - Still making it from scratch. Would like to get some flavorings to try different syrups flavors.

5.) Clean out the garage and sell unnecessary things. Still trying to sell a tv we have. We put it on CraigsList but have gotten no bites yet. Lots of people selling things on there right now, so its hard to stand out. We may need to have a yard sale when spring kicks in.
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Author: Cheryl
•10:27 AM

You know you have those days where you feel you are just off in everything you are doing. Today was one of them. I post in another day or two my trip to CVS and Walgreens. One went well, one didn't and I think you will be surprised by which one is which.

I hit ShopRite for what I call again their Breakfast Sale. Lots of cheap bacon, eggs, OJ, etc. And though there are no coupons for these items, we still needed to stock up. Not alot of coupon deals that I needed, so we got some things we just needed for our pantry.

ShopRite
1 Gallon of skim milk FREE with coupon I earned 2 trips ago on the Kellogg's cereal
2 Turkey Hill ice creams $2.49 - $1.00 q = $1.49 each
3 BirdsEye steamfresh veggies .99 each - $1.00 off 3 = .66 each
2 Maggio mozzarella cheese $1.98 (I was told there were q's but none in my database)
10 Axelrod yogurts $4.00
3 Tree Ripe OJ's $1.88 each
2 pks of chicken breasts (sale) $5.79 and $5.67 each
2 Oscar Meyer bacon $1.88 each
1 bottom roast (sale) $5.74
4 Hefty boxes of kitchen trash bags $2.49 - $1.00 q's = $1.49 each
1 18 ct of eggs $1.48
1 Glade scented oil candle $2.49 - $3.00 q = FREE

Total $47.32

Vercchio's Produce
2 bags of oranges
1 bag of apples
1 bag of bananas
1 bag of potatoes

Total $7.00

Total spent $54.32. Went a little bit over because I originally was only going to get one pack of chicken breasts, but they a great size, so I couldn't resist.

Gayle, who has a great website call The Grocery Cart Challenge, was the original inspiration to me to try a budget with my grocery shopping. Please check out her site, to see how she does it and how some others who also have decided to try her challenge.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:56 PM

As you heard I have been doing the CVS deals for a year now. It took me a week or two to get the basic hang of it. It was pretty easy, and each week I got better and better at it.

I have been reading for weeks how Walgreens works and I am still quite confused. CVS is ECB's and not much else. But Walgreens has Register Rewards, Easy Saver q's, Easy Saver rebates, and on and on. I still have no clue, so I haven't tried it at all. But I see people getting great deals on things, especially aluminum foil, which I really do need. I have read all the Walgreen's 101 websites and links and still a little perplexed.

Anyone care to be my Walgreen's mentor and guide my stupid self through this??
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Author: Cheryl
•12:41 PM

This month it will have been a year since I started couponing. Unfortunately I didn't start our budget, debt paying and savings until September of 2008. But the couponing started the whole process off and I have a friend of mine to thank.

I went to the grocery store right up the street from me to pick something up when I ran into a friend of mine. She had a huge black binder in her cart and was riffling through it. When I asked she started telling me all about her couponing and all the money that she saved. She also said "Do you shop at Target?". I said of course I did. She said well if you want to pay like nothing for everything you get at Target you have to start doing the CVS deals, and you will barely ever need to go to Target again. Not go to Target again? It sounded awful. CVS was only a place where I picked up my prescriptions.

We walked around the store together doing our shopping and she explained me to briefly how she does all this couponing. She is one of my dear friends, and a very smart woman. So despite my doubts and concerns, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it out.

So the next day I went to Walmart and bought a binder, baseball card holders, a calculator, new pair of scissors. I went online for hours and looked up any information I could find on couponing and CVS. That is when I found Hot Coupon World, which is still my savior to this date. That weekend I went to buy my newspapers. I bought four of them came home and found no coupons in the paper. This was before I knew that coupons don't come out in the newspapers on holiday weekends and it was Easter. So first lesson learned. My first deal at CVS was a Garnier hair products deal and I was nervous as can be to hand them my coupons. I felt like I was doing something illegal. I paid much more out of pocket the first time, as I needed to accumulate ECB's first. But it wasn't long before I was addicted.

Shortly after that I took my couponing to the next level, the grocery store. Then I was hooked. I can't imagine now ever going back to the old way I used to shop. Even when all the debt is gone and savings is built up, I will always keep doing this. Its worth a little extra time a week to save a bundle. And I actually consider it fun, since I am an organizing and list making junkie, those are skills that really come in handy when looking for deals and planning meals.

So happy couponing anniversary to me.

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Author: Cheryl
•11:53 AM

This is where the magic happens, my desk at home. I thought I would take you through my budget process. Not complicated at all. But a much better one for our family than the one we had before September 2008.

My husband and I get paid every two weeks, but he gets paid the opposite Friday of my payday.
So I choose to pay our bills and figure out our budget on a 2 week schedule.

1.) Money, money, money - The Thursday night before I get paid, I check to see how much money is left over in our checking accounts. We have two checking accounts. One for all of our bills and one for our budget money. I make sure that any outstanding checks or bills came out of the bill account and that what is left in both is free money. I then add those totals to my check total, which will direct deposited into my account the next morning. My husband's check is already in one of those accounts by then. All those amounts together is what we have to work with.

2.) Savings - The funds for our emergency fund are directly taken out of my paycheck every two weeks and deposited into an ING savings account. That way there is no arguing whether we have the money to save. As they say always pay yourself first.

3.) Bills, Bills, Bills - I gather all my bills. If you look on the picture above there is a small 4 drawer plastic filing thingy sitting to the left of my desk. That holds in the top drawer all pending bills. The others drawers I will explain at another time. In a notebook I list all the bills due, the amount due and the due date. I then total all the bills.

4.) No one said there would be math - I have had the same calculator since high school and it still works. I love it. I then subtract the bills from the total money we have to use. If that number is painfully low, then I know some bills will have to be pushed off. But since we have been better with our money this hasn't happened anymore. We are actually quite ahead in paying our bills, thank you very much.

5.) The Bi-weekly Budget - Our budget for ourselves is usually comprised of four categories: Groceries, Husband, Myself, Miscellaneous. Groceries is always $100, $50 for each week. My husband's portion is for anything he needs (gas, haircuts, etc). My portion is very small, as I only need gas, and I have a small car, and I barely buy anything else. Miscellaneous covers anything else we need for the house or for the pets (dog or cat food, CVS, litter, newspapers, etc.). If we have anything outside the ordinary we make up a new category and figure that into the budget (ex. doctor's appointments, prescriptions, presents, family events). But most of the time it is just the four categories.

I use Google Docs to keep track of our budget. The reason I chose this program, is that my husband and I can both view it over the internet with passwords, so we can both see how much is left in our categories and can update the budget anywhere we are.

Once I have the budget amount, I subtract that from what is left after the bills.

6.) Credit Cards - Whatever money is left over from all of that is our snowball amount that goes to the current credit card we are working on. In the bill totals for #3 are the minimum balances for the cards I current have that are due. So this snowball money is extra that goes to the current card on my hit list.

The budget is now done.

7.) Payday - When I wake up Friday morning, my check is already deposited into my bills account. In the morning I check all the final totals in the bank, and make sure they are still matching up from what I figured out the day before. I transfer the money we calculated as needed into our budget fund. And then I proceed to pay our bills from the remaining money in the bill account. I try to pay most of our bills online, but I do have a few old time companies that still make me mail in a few checks. I also make sure the snowball money goes to the credit card I am currently working on paying off.

8.) Wrap up - I put everything down again in my checkbook to keep on hand and check our balance in our emergency fund and update the blog with the new total.

Really easy and working very well for us.

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