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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Author: Cheryl
•9:31 AM

The dishwasher is still not cleaning. I have tried all the tricks. Cleaned it from head to toe, scrubbed out any gunk out of every hole, tube, corner. Moved the silver wear tray to make sure it was not blocking the soap, threw the soap in the middle instead of the tray, ran the hot water before using, checked the temperature of the hot water. Nope, nope, nope. Still not getting a thing clean.

So for now she is retired. We are hand washing dishes. We went out this weekend to look at new ones just to get an idea on prices. But didn't buy anything. I really don't think it is an emergency to have one, and I would rather our money keep going to our debt and emergency fund. My hands sore from being in so much water, but I will live. And eventually when we get a little more financially sound, maybe we will get one. Maybe I could use her for storage. :)

The carpet cleaner is its own story. I got the parts I needed in the mail last week so that the soap side of the tank didn't leak, and they fit great, no leaks. So Sunday I got everything ready to clean the carpets. Moved all the furniture, vacuumed every crack and crevice in the house. As I filled the water tank, water started to pour out of the bottom of the tank. It wasn't the identical part to the soap side, but instead the actual clear plastic of the tank had a crack in it. How the crap was I going to fix this?

To say I was happy was an understatement. Words were flying, things were thrown, fortunately only my dog saw me doing this and just went back to sleep. Fortunately my mom has a cleaner, and my dad dropped it off, so I was able to clean the carpets. I went online again and found replacements tanks for $40.00 with shipping. It should be here in a week. The picture is my new tank, supposed to be a sturdier model. Better be.

So in total I have paid $55.00 to keep my carpet cleaner working. Still better than spending $280 on a new one. But just enough to give me a headache
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Author: Cheryl
•11:43 AM

First I hit SuperFresh as we needed to start stocking back up on meats. I hadn't been there in a few weeks, so it was nice to get back there to see what they had.

SuperFresh
1 chicken thighs $1.87
1 chicken split breasts $2.65
2 pks of thin sandwich steaks $1.89 and $2.19
2 whole chickens $3.51 and $3.62

Total $15.72

Dollar Tree (I go there to get my newspapers)
2 pks of hamburger rolls $1.00 each

Total $2.00

My local ShopRite was having their customer appreciation sale. You get great coupons in the circular for some awesome product. They used to do this more often. So now when it comes out it is more of a big deal.

ShopRite
1 Daisy sour cream $1.29
2 Pace salsas $2.99 - 2 coupons for free Pace Product (won this on their site) = FREE
1 Gold's horseradish .99
8 San Giorgio pastas .88 each = $7.04
4 Chex Mix 4 for $5.00 - .50 q's = .25 each
1 Melitta coffee $2.99 - $1.00 q = $1.99
3 ShopRite elbow macaroni = $2.00
1 ShopRite 5 lb bag of flour = $1.88
1 ShopRite 5 lb bag of sugar $2.49 - SR appreciation q = $1.49
6 Meow Mix cat treats $1.00 each - $1.00 q's = FREE
1 Friendly's ice cream $2.50 - SR appreciation q = $1.49
1 3lb pack of center cut porkchops $7.06 - SR appreciation q = $5.28
1 pk of strawberries $1.99 - SR appreciation q = .99
1 ShopRite dozen of eggs $1.99 - SR appreciation q = .99
1 rotisserie chicken $4.99

Total $31.02

Total spent for week $48.02

Under budget again. Not bad. Still on the hunt for Dollar Tree's chicken and beef broth. I have been to two different ones and still no broth. I have one more to check next week, if not, I guess then they aren't having it anymore. And I will have to get it at the regular store like everyone else.

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
•9:20 AM

I am very excited to try a new product I saw on TV the other day. Rarely does a product make me run right out and buy it. I'm tempted to with this one.

I'm afraid of ladders. I live in a Cape Cod style house, so the first floor doesn't actually sit ground level. So to get to our windows from the outside you would need a ladder. I'm not going up on one. You know that commercial about gutter cleaning where the people fall off the ladder and freeze midway. That commercial scares the crap out of me. I have nightmares about falling off ladders. Step stools I can handle, ladders no.

So because of that my windows haven't been really cleaned well in the 12 years I have lived in the house. Yes 12 years. And none of the ones in the front of the house are the new windows where you can clean the outside by flipping the window down.

My father once offered to go up on the ladder and clean my windows., But I got so nervous with him on the ladder that I made him get down.

Then two days ago I saw this. The Windex Outdoor All-In-One. Basically a Swiffer pole for your windows. I feel kind of ripped off as I kinda tried to invent this a few years ago. Frustrated at not being able to clean my windows, I took a Swiffer and attached a paper towel to it and sprayed it with window spray and tried to clean the outside of our windows with it. It really didn't do well as the paper towel kept ripping and it was hard to reach.

But I am going to try this. I will see if I have a coupon for it and look out for it on sale. And if this works, this is the answer to a 12 year old problem and will help keep this chick off ladders, which she hates.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:57 PM

I have something to confess. The cars that my husband and I drive are leased. I KNOW, I KNOW, leasing overall is not good. Its like renting your car. You never have an end and you are never without car payments. This is one of our many financial mistakes we made over the years. But just as we are fixing our credit cards, our lack of savings and our budgeting, we want to fix this to. We want to do this the best financial way possible.

Our lease is up in a year, and we will both need cars. Many days a week we work opposite hours and in opposite directions too. So going with only one car is impossible. We know we want to buy, and buy fuel efficient and practical. Drive them into the ground, as we will never lease again, but what will be right option for us then:

1.) Buy out our current lease, actually I should say I could buy out my lease. My husband hates his truck, so he would never buy it. Mine is fine, but I don’t know if this would even be right thing to do.

2.) Buy brand new ones. With all the dealers dying to sell cars, I can’t imagine they still won’t be dying to a year. There will be good deals and incentives if they can get you a new car.

3.) Buy certified used ones. Another thing neither of us have a problem with.

4.) Buy flat out used car from a place like CarSense.


The other issue is a down payment. With putting all of our extra money into savings and our credit card debt, there is no extra money for a down payment.

Do we try to get a car with no money down? Do we take a little money from the credit card snowball and put it away each check for a year for a down payment? Or do we just take some of our tax returns next year and use that for the down payment?

Of course the minute we would have a car payment and the credit cards are gone, I would then be working to pay off the cars as soon as possible.

A million questions I know. I’ve been doing as much research as I can. Any input you have would be appreciated.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:33 AM
I have the world's oldest dishwasher. Its mustard yellow in color on the outside, that should tell you plenty about its age. Its an Insinkerator, heard of it? Probably not. I don't think the company even makes dishwashers anymore, just garbage disposals. Its porcelain too, which my repair person once told me, is an amazing dishwasher and you should try to keep this forever.

But she is a royal pain. She cleans when she feels like it. Lately she is not dissolving the soap at all. So here are the steps I have taken so far. Tried the gel, tried the powder, tried the tabs. None are dissolving. I have increased the temperature of our water to over 120 degrees, still not dissolving. I have ran the hot water in the sink before using the dishwasher, still not dissolving. Last night I cleaned the dishwasher head to toe, using baking powder, vinegar, and a toothbrush. I got every little piece of gunk out of it and ran it, still not dissolving.

I found a few more things to try today on the internet. Lets hope it works. I really don't feel like calling our repair guy again and paying $80 to get it checked out and I definitely don't want to buy another one right now. Yes, I can hand wash dishes. But that uses more water than a dishwasher, so I'm hoping she will pull through one last time.
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Author: Cheryl
•4:03 PM

When my friend first showed me her coupon book over a year ago, she said "Once you do this, you will never go to Target again". I was interested in trying it from the minute she said it, but doubted that I would ever give up on Target.

So I started my couponing and after a few months, I noticed I was never going to Target again.

When I started seeing on frugal sites deals for Walmart and Target I got excited and ran to the store with my coupons. And every time I tried one of them my deals have come up bust. The items would always been more than they said on the deal sites, and both stores were completely unfriendly with coupons, especially internet ones. I can only assume that the stores in my area charge more than the stores in the areas these sites are from. And don't even bother with the corporate policy that Walmart has to accept internet coupons. I already tried it and brought in the policy to show the manager, and they still refused.

So even though I think Target is a beautiful looking store and has awesome looking home furnishings, I rarely go there anymore. I just don't need home furnishings now and their food items never end up being a good deal. Most of the Target's near us, also don't have full food sections, just the boxed stuff and a tiny freezer case.

Walmart. Well there is one up the street I won't even step it, its not a nice store. The one 10 minutes away is a huge, nice, SuperWalmart. I still don't do well with the deals. As I said the prices are never even close to the ones people mention on the deal sites. Most of the food I find there I find cheaper at my local stores with coupons.

But Walmart does now get a few points more than Target (shocker for me). I find their dry cat food tends to be a bit cheaper than the grocery stores, and along with a coupon that works out well. I will also only go to Walmart if I need a household item (ex. clothespins, rubbermaid containers, small appliances). But most of their food items have really been disappointing as far as deals go.

So that is why you will rarely see deals from those places on my sites. If you get great deals at both of these places, I envy you.
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Author: Cheryl
•12:33 PM

Now I just said last week that I am trying not to buy any more deodorant and toothpaste. So what do I buy when I went to CVS this week, yep both of them. And I had to because some of my extra care bucks were about to expire, and since I don't have that many left, I had to get some things that had extra care buck deals. Unfortunately those were deodorant and toothpaste. I hope CVS rotates in some good deals on things other than those two type of items soon.

I was glad to get the body wash as part of a deal. While I am not in danger or running out of any right now, my supply of it is lower than other things. So any one I can add to it, is good.

Face moisturizer. The only time I did get face moisturizer as a deal, was back when they had the L'Oreal RevitaLift. I got two boxes of that. They were so cool that I put them in Christmas gift baskets for my mom and sister-in-law. Bad move. In the last week I saw that my face moisturizer was down to its last drops. All I had was a sample of the RevitaLift that I got in the mail. And guess what, I loved it. But it hasn't been in a good deal lately and I am so sorry I gave away those boxes I had of it. So I had to get new moisturizer. I needed one that was oil free and Biore was the only one of a reasonable price. So I had to pay full price, but I did have my ECB's to use for it.

2 Dry Idea deodorants $2.99 each = $5.98
1 Irish Spring $4.99
1 Colgate Max White $2.99
1 Biore face lotion $7.99

Coupons
(2) $2.00 off any Dry Idea roll on deodorant
(1) .50 off any Colgate toothpaste
(1) .50 off any Irish Spring

Total ECB's used $14.97
Total oop $2.47
Total ECB's earned $11.98
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Author: Cheryl
•12:21 PM

I did all my shopping today, so I actually got to put it all in one picture for a change.

First I hit Vercchio's, our local produce market. The man needed more fruit and I like the carrots for my lunches.

Vercchio's
2 bags of oranges
2 bags of apples
1 bag of grapes
2 bags of carrots

Total $10.00

Over to ShopRite, they were having a good sale on London Broil, so I stocked up there. If you buy 3 Kellogg's cereals you get a coupon for a free gallon of milk too, so I did that deal. Free milk on my next trip.

ShopRite
3 Superpretzels $1.84 - .75q's = .84 each
3 Totino's pizza rolls $1.49 - .35 q's = .79 each
2 Light N Fluffy noodles $1.29 - .50 off 2 q's = .79 each
1 Rotisserie chicken breast $2.99
1 Edy's ice cream $2.74
3 Kellogg's Rice Krispies $1.99 - .70 q's = .99 each (got free milk coupon)
1 pk of chicken breasts $4.37
2 twin packs of London broil $13.30 total

Total $31.93 + my free milk coupon


Total shopping $41.93

I was then supposed to get get chicken and beef broth at the dollar store to finish up my $50 budget. But they were all out. So for now we are under budget!

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
•3:51 PM

In reading frugal blogs, I see alot of people taking a day to do a whole bunch of baking and then freezing everything. And then you have lots of good things to eat for weeks. I was always envious when I saw this because trying to find the time to do this was the hard part.


You see I used to have my own baking blog a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. But the reason I stopped doing it is because it just took too much time and too much money. I work 5 days a week and spending an entire weekend baking something was getting less and less practical.

Since I already know how to bake, if I just take a few hours one Saturday out of whole month, I could knock out a few things to keep on hand. I used only ingredients I had on hand.



The Menu

Chocolate chip muffins
Lemon yogurt muffins
Almond bran muffins
Corn bread
Homemade biscuits

There was a plan to also make lots and lots of pancakes. But I didn't take out enough milk to defrost in time and ran out of it before getting to the pancake mix. So we skipped them today. I am hoping to get to all the pancakes tomorrow sometime when the milk is defrosted. I kept the menu simple the first time, as I didn't have a ton of ingredients on hand. I can't wait until blueberries and strawberries really come into season at the produce market. I want to make tons and tons of things with them.


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Author: Cheryl
•8:46 AM

Paid off credit card # 4 today.

Doing my happy dance now. Its a nice high paying these babies off.

Now onto # 5.

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Author: Cheryl
•10:06 AM

I clean my carpets every three months. With six pets I think its actually not that strict a schedule. I love my carpet cleaner and don't regret one bit the money I paid for her a few years ago. But about 6 months ago the valve on the tank that holds the cleaner broke and the cleaner would just pour right out. I was so heartbroken, I figured it was too old to replace it and I would eventually have to get a new one, which I just couldn't spend the money on right now. My poor carpets are looking a bit dingy and really need a cleaning, since they are way past their normal scheduled cleaning. I was all set to borrow my mom's horrible cleaner or rent one from the store this weekend.

But I got motivated today and decided to see if I could find the part. And guess what, I did. I found it on Amazon, through a great company. I ordered two of the part, just in the case the same part on the water tank eventually broke. It cost me a total of $13.98 for two of the valves. So much better than $200 for a new one. Me and my carpet cleaner can continue with our long term relationship. And I will have nice clean carpets for a long time.

A frugal saving indeed.

**Forgot to note, the cleaner pictured above is not the exact one I have. Mine is about a few models older than the one pictured. But its the same brand, similar features, but blue in color. Just in case you wanted to know.

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Author: Cheryl
•2:41 PM


On top of our salaries there were a few times a year when extra money would come in. In the past we didn't always spend or use it wisely, hence our debt. But now that I am on the debt paying train, some of those extra little checks have decided they are going to disappear.

Thankfully we had a nice tax return that went directly to card #4. I usually get a nice fiscal bonus from work in April/May every year. That would have made a real nice dent in one of the cards. I now say "would have". With the economy, the fiscal bonus' are good as dead. All pay increases and annual bonus's are on hold too. My review is not until October, so maybe if I cross my fingers real hard, the economy will get better by then (yeah right).

The lovely, and I say that with utmost sarcasm, Governor of NJ has made his suggestions for the state budget and one thing that will affect us is the elimination of a rebate we get every fall for our homes. Since we make above a certain amount (and believe me it ain't high), we will lose out on that check this year.

So there are a few extra's that are now gone for now. I should have known this would happen when I decide to pay off my debt. But we still have jobs, so thankful for that. I persevere, whatever I got I am putting towards out debt and one day, oh one day, we will be credit card debt free.
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Author: Cheryl
•9:00 PM

This is a topic that hits close to home and today one where I wanted to pull my hair out. My husband and I are childless by choice, or as I call it "I just don't want kids". We are 36 and 37 and yes we know for sure we will never want kids. I have wanted pets since I was 5 years old and that is what I have and it makes me very happy.

Today I read an article in our local paper about a group of local couples that get together to do interesting activities and they all are childless by choice. They started this group because they saw all their other friends slowly disappear as they had children. My husband and I are thinking about looking into it as we have found more and more of our friends disappearing from our lives as they have children, no matter how hard we try with them. I still do have one or two friends left with kids, but I see them only every few months.

The comments in my local paper started with a woman calling us childless people selfish. Saying that people were put on this earth to create other people. I really wasn't aware that my only purpose on this earth was to be a baby making machine. What if I physically couldn't have children, does that make me useless on earth according to her? Needless to say after I calmed down, I realized she feels this way because this is all she chooses to have in her life. There are plenty of people on this earth with kids who have lives outside of them. Isn't it selfish to think that your way is the only way that is right?

I'm deliriously happy with the decisions I have made in my life. And I respect others for the decisions they have made. How's that for selfish?

There, my short vent for the day.
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Author: Cheryl
•3:41 PM

I have two things in my stockpile that I have more of than anything else, toothpaste and deodorant. I probably have enough for two years.

This week the only good deals at CVS were on.....guess what......toothpaste and deodorant. I promised I wouldn't buy any more of them. There were a few other okay deals on some other things but they still weren't free, and would eaten down a few more of my ECB's. And since I don't have a ton of them left, I just decided to pass up on the whole thing this week.

Its good to take a break now and then. My husband I took an awesome bike ride through a park for over an hour.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:08 PM
Well, I guess its obvious. I didn't skip grocery shopping this weekend. I promise we will do it soon. But I did do all my shopping on Saturday instead. Both days this weekend it is supposed to be in the 60's to 70's and my husband is home all day on Sunday. So I wanted to get everything done on Saturday, so we had a whole day to go biking and spend time together.


Since I wasn't really seeing any tremendous deals in next week's ShopRite ad, I took a trip to Aldi's to stock up some things they have there that are so cheap.

Aldi's

1 12 pk of Ramen noodles $1.76
4 dozen eggs $4.60
1 container of vegetable oil $2.39
1 can mandarin oranges .45
1 can crushed pineapple .89
1 can fruit cocktail .85
5 boxes of corn muffin mix .35 each
2 boxes of baking mix $1.79 each
2 cans diced tomatoes with chilis .49 each
1 can bread crumbs .89
2 pks of english muffins .99 each
1 pk hot dog buns .85 each
1 pk hamburger buns .85 each
1 loaf of white bread .79 each
2 tubs of ricotta cheese $1.59 each
1 tub of romano cheese $1.99
2 bags of yellow rice .89 each
1 bag of tater tots $1.59
1 bag of french fries $1.59
1 bag of hashbrowns $1.49
1 pk of chorizo $1.99
1 bag of onion rings $1.19
2 boxes of baking soda .49 each

Total $39.88



The sale on Over The Moon milk ends later today and my local ShopRite didn't have any more. So I stopped at the one near Aldi's today and they had tons of it. The milk freezes and defrosts beautifully, so I will have milk for a few weeks.

ShopRite

4 1/2 gallons of Over The Moon Milk $1.89 - $1 q's = .89 for milk (can't beat it)
2 Frank's Red Hot Sauce $1.19 - FREE coupon in paper = FREE
1 Breyers strawberry ice cream $1.99
2 boxes of Carolina rice .91 - .50 q's = FREE
2 batteries (smoke detector time you now ) .88 each

Total $7.43

Total budget for week $47.31. Now off to get some sleep and enjoy a day outside.

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
•1:56 PM

And I didn't even use any coupons to get her. She doesn't look like cranberry flavor though.

Actually this is what I found after putting all my groceries away today and going to the back door to take all of the boxes out to the recyclables. Jenna is very crafty, managed to get in there without bending or breaking the box at all. She was so cute, I couldn't resist a picture.
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Author: Cheryl
•2:41 PM
Well I told you how Chase raised its rate on me a little bit ago. That is card #5, so they are next to be paid off. Amex before that lowered their rate on my husband's card, have no clue why, still waiting for them to do something bad next.

Yesterday in the mail we got a nice pamphlet from Capital One saying they are raising our rate due to the struggling economy. But guess what Capital One? You were card #3 and you were PAID OFF in December So I beat you to the punch. Ha ha. That felt good.

Still not thrilled about the raised rate, but at least I don't have a running balance with them anymore, nor plan ever to.

Another reason to get these evil things gone gone gone as soon as possible.
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Author: Cheryl
•5:57 AM

Four days into the new month and I almost forgot to do the financial update.

1.) Pay off credit cards # 4 and 5. #4 is almost gone. Just one more payment next week and I think it will be history. Then onto #5. Just in case you didn't remember before there are seven to get through before the end.

2.) Have emergency fund at $1500 by end of year. We are now up to $1051.24. I just increased my savings deposit starting with next week's check from $50 to $80. So we should have no problem with the $1500, in fact I am aiming for over $2000 by the end of the year.

3.) Buy chest freezer and stock with deals for dinners at home. Mr. Freeze is full and happy. My freezer upstairs actually could use a few things. We continue to make dinners from home. We really have even stopped the Starbucks dates since we are now biking on the weekends. This weekend it is supposed to be in the 60's and 70's after getting 8 inches of snow. So we are so excited to get out on our bikes.

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

Laundry Detergent - I would say I still have about 5 bottles of pre-made detergent left. Once they are gone I will buy no more. So maybe by the summer we will be into making the detergent from scratch.

Fabric Softener - Still have a few boxes of those left and since I tear them in half and only use half in each load, I will probably not be through those until the summer too.

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.

Pasta Sauce - This one might be a problem. I could make sauce pretty cheap from scratch, but my husband is very particular on sauce and the only homemade sauce recipe he likes involves a ton of ingredients and gets expensive. Plus I have found some amazing deals on canned sauce that is cheaper than anything I could have made. So that one we will play by ear.

Meatloaf - I actually haven't tried to make a bunch of this in advance yet. I think I need to stock up on some more ground meat first.

5.) Clean out the garage and sell unnecessary things. With snow still on the ground, and my brothers things taking up residence there, I don't see a yard sale happening anytime soon. However I do have a TV and a cabinet I want to sell. Supposedly a friend of mine has a friend who wants the TV. If I don't hear from them soon, I am going to have to sign up for Craigslist or something and sell it there.
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Author: Cheryl
•8:29 PM

I haven't mentioned for a while that my $50 a week budget is for two adults. We do not have any children. We used to spend $150.00 on groceries every week or two and would get barely 3 bags of groceries and let most of it go to waste. So $50.00 is a definitely a slash on what our food budget was before. I know people feed 5 to 6 kids sometimes on $50.00 a week, so I know that if we ever needed to slash more we could.

Over the past few months we have assembled quite a nice stockpile of food, both frozen and non. I have been thinking about taking two weeks or so off of grocery shopping and living off our stockpile. I would then take the budget for that week and add it to the snowball payment for our current credit card we are paying down. The only thing I may run out of is ice cream, and since I have an addiction to it, it might be good if I take a couple of days off from eating it anyway. My pants would thank me.

I actually do enjoy the couponing and finding deals so that may be the only part I may miss and I will have control myself if I see some really good things on sale for that week.

I could actually sleep in a little later on Sundays, and be ready to go biking nice and early since it is going to be in the 60's this weekend after getting 8 inches of snow on Monday.

Have you ever taken a mini-vacation from grocery shopping and lived off your stockpile? If so, how long have you done it? Did you allow for any exceptions, or just go hard core?
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Author: Cheryl
•11:45 AM

After about 2 months of doing CVS deals, I learned that I am not going to be the person that is going to buy something at CVS that I won't even use just because it has a good ECB deal. In the beginning I ended up with a diabetes monitor that I couldn't give away to save my life. After that and a few more products I decided, that I am not going to get something unless I can use it. I don't care what kind of deal it is. So I have passed up on a few things now and then. But in the end I have a stockpile of exactly what I need and that is what is most important.

I was very excited to see Carnation Instant Breakfast, or as I call it CIB, in the deal this week. I used to make a shake every morning with CIB, skim milk and a banana. But I had stopped buying CIB a while ago because it was a bit expensive. I only wish the deal was more than a limit one on it. The vanilla extract was a filled because my store didn't have in any of the ACT mouthwash that has a deal this week. But its still good, I put vanilla in everything I bake. The candy bars I actually use for baking.

1 Gillette Fusion razor $7.99
6 Reese's whips $3.00
1 Carnation Instant Breakfast $4.99
2 vanilla extracts $1.98

Coupons
(1) $4.00 off Gillette razor
(3) $1.00 off two Reese's Whips
(1) .75 off Carnation Instant Breakfast

Total ECB's used $10.00
Total oop .28
Total ECB's earned $8.99
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