Thursday, September 29, 2011

Entering Panic Mode

For the past several months we've been having unexpected expenses creep up & we've got more future expenses associated with the new baby & it is just all starting to make me feel frazzled.  We have a savings to cover these expenses; I just HATE to see that savings dwindle.  When our savings goes down, I tend to freak out & have dreams where my teeth fall out.  Not good.

We went to the doctor to figure out the payment plan for Little Baby & it turned out our insurance won't cover as much with this Little Baby.  Here are the facts:
  • Our monthly payments went from $90 with E to $175 with LB
  • Our old insurance had a prenatal program that I completed & as a result the insurance company waived the $250 hospital co-pay.  This insurance does not offer that option. 
That's  $845 more than we had to spend with Emerson & that's assuming that everything else goes perfectly well. 

So what's a frugal girl to do when she feels her finances are out of control?  Come up with a plan of course!

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Return anything possible--I bought Emerson a really fancy dress from Amazon, but upon looking in her closet she really doesn't need it; I'm returning it to use the money toward a booster seat for Emerson.  I also went through some recent stockpile purchases that were unneeded & exchanged them for diapers for Little Baby.

Sell Jewelry--Has anyone ever done this & had luck?  I don't have a lot to sell at the local "We Buy Your Gold" place, but I do have some missing earrings & other broken items that are of no use.  I figure even if I only get $15 it's more than we had.   

Sell on Amazon & Ebay--I made around $1,000 selling old textbooks & teaching books on Amazon while I was pregnant with Emerson.  I don't have as much to sell this time, but every little bit counts right?

Have a Garage Sale--We need to make room for Little Baby, so why not try to make a little money too?  I'm hoping I'll be feeling 100% shortly, so this shouldn't be the daunting task that it seems now.

Apply for Owed Money--We need to apply for a rebate on JC's contacts & we also need to use all of the money from our health savings account by the end of the year.  Using the HSA won't be a problem, but making sure to apply for the rebate promptly isn't always my forte.

Conserve, Conserve, Conserve--We need to cut expenses wherever possible, so that means we'll have to cut back on going out to eat (my Achilles heel), & I need to shop smarter at the grocery store, only buy essentials & rely more upon our freezer & pantry.

Hopefully with these steps we'll be able to come up with the extra $845 without dipping into our savings.  

Does anyone else have any suggestions?  What do you do when you need to come up with some extra cash?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Is My Kind of Shopping--98% savings!

I've pretty much been house bound the last couple of weeks, waiting for my 1st trimester to pass, so I haven't gone shopping.  That is until today.  I did a MARATHON shopping trip & I'm super excited by the result.  Maybe it's because I haven't been out in the world much lately; maybe it's because I saved money.  Either way, let me show you.  

My first stop was Big Lots.  I haven't been in ages, but I saw in their sale flier they had English biscuits that I LOVED in India, so I had to make the extra stop. 

To my delight I also found Pacific Organic Soups for $1.00!  I love these soups, but they're usually in the $3.50 range, so we rarely buy them.  Previously I found some on clearance at Target for $2.83, which was cheapest I've seen in ages, so for $1 I definitely stocked up & saved myself somewhere in the $30 range!

My 2nd stop was Kohl's.   I had a $10 store coupon sent in the mail & needed to use it before it expired.  For the record, I have no idea how you get these store coupons, but I am beyond thrilled when Kohl's sends them my way.  I usually try to purchase clearance items, but I needed black leggings for E's Halloween costume, so my hands were tied. 

 I ended up with 2 pairs of Carter's leggings & after a sale & the store credit I spent $2.19.  I can't get leggings for $1.08 at the resale shop & I haven't felt well enough to garage sale, so I was thrilled with this price; especially for brand new leggings!

My last stop was JC Penney's.  I had a $17 store credit from a returned gift, so I wanted to see what I could get for Emerson.  I was hoping for maybe one complete outfit, but I came away with a ton. 

I got:  1 maternity top, 3 skirts, a pair of pajama shorts, a pair of pajama pants, a polo shirt, & a little sweater all for $0.90 after my store credit!  All of the children's items were marked down to $1.97 & the maternity shirt was $4.97--down from $36.  I ended up saving $125.18 from full retail price!

Both of my clothing shopping trips combined I spent $3.09 OOP for $160.62 worth of stuff.  That's a 98% savings!  WaHoooo!
All & all it was an excellent day for deals & I was quite pleased with my haul.  If only all shopping trips could be this exciting!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BPA in Kids' Canned Foods

There's a new study out about the alarmingly high levels of BPA found in canned food targeted toward children.  I have to say I was sort freaked that both Annie's Organic & Earth's Best Organic were on the list.  I guess I always think that organic equals extremely safe food. The majority of childrens' products are BPA free & Europe has banned BPA use.

I don't mean to be an alarmist, I just pass this on if you're interested.  WebMD has the story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And New Baby Makes Four...

 We now interrupt our regular green & frugal adventures to announce...

 I'm pregnant!  Immense blessing that it is, this morning sickness is currently KICKING my butt.  And by morning sickness, what I really mean, is all day sickness, 24/7 sickness, worst hangover of your life sickness, absolutely exhausting & debilitating sickness.  I've been doing my best to just make it through our days, feed myself & E, & play with her as much as I physically can.  I'm trying to happily survive at this point.

 Hopefully my frugal adventures will continue shortly.  For now, I'm logging many, many hours on Netflix & ordering take out...a lot.  I cannot wait to return to 'normal' life & be able to share it with you! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fun Around the House

We've been sick here lately & haven't been doing all that much, so we've had to come up with ways to have fun at home.

Emerson has discovered the joys of doing crosswords with Daddy, while sitting on the table, naturally.

She has been practicing her very best jewelry model poses.

And we even picnicked in the backyard.  It certainly made leftover night much more exciting.

Best of all E got to spend time with her beloved "BAWL", which she had to stare at longingly for most of the summer, because it was too hot to play.

Why is it that the simplest things are always the very most fun?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From Trash to Treasure: Recycling Furniture

I am always so impressed & inspired when people are able to completely transform old furniture into new & beautiful things.  I only wish I had that vision.  Here are two amazing transformations...

Fresh Cut Flours turned a tv stand into the most cutie pie play kitchen ever. 

And Nice Girl Notes took the drawers from this night stand

and turned them into a doll house!

Congratulations ladies for being creative & green.  Excellent work!

Green Celebrity Field Guide

Photo: RRE/Ian Garland/WENN
MSN's Wonderwall has put together a list of green celebrities & their green habits.  Just in case you needed a little famous inspiration--check it out

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why I Don't Play The Drugstore Game

I've never really shopped at drugstores or used their respective rewards programs, but after reading through some extreme couponing sites & speaking to some friends I decided to give it a try.  After a month & a half of shopping at Walgreens (the only pharmacy chain in town), getting all of the freebies & their respective register rewards, I've come to the conclusion that the drugstore game is not for me.  Not for me at all.  Here's why:

Time:  It takes a lot of time to plan out the proper shopping trip, including maximizing register rewards, & pairing them with manufacturer coupons.  I'd say it would take me at least half of one of E's naps to come up with a game plan.  Time that is money.  Time in which I could be cleaning up the house, so we don't have to hire a cleaning service, or time where I could be cooking from scratch so we're not tempted to order takeout.  Though I was getting "deals", unneeded bottles of shampoo & tubes of toothpaste weren't valuable enough for me to spend my time getting them.

Stuff:  Rather too much stuff.  In order to get maximum register rewards you need to purchase the free items, the problem being that sometimes you don't want the free items.  I don't need a "free" glucometer or a soy supplement to help menopause.  Yes those items could be donated, or passed along, but I still have to buy them, store them, & then figure out what to do with them.   

Gas:  I spent extra money on gas going to Walgreens several times a week in order to get the maximum deals.  I'm concerned about my carbon foot print, & to me, it's just not worth the financial & environmental costs. 

Higher Prices:  Walgreens does have some great sale items to get you in the door, but if you don't happen to need or want those sale items their prices a high.  Much higher than the places  I normally shop.  For instance, one week at Walgreens a gallon of milk was $4.07, while a gallon of milk at Target the same week was $3.09.  I found that despite having register rewards, my money just didn't go as far at Walgreens. 

Money:  Often, I get hoodwinked into thinking that by getting deals & "saving money" I'm money ahead.  In reality I always have to SPEND money in order to SAVE money.  The same prinicple applies to Walgreens, you have to spend money to get your free register rewards.  When we tallied up our expenditures for the month of August I was shocked at the amount of extra money I spent to get my "free" items.   My problem came in the amount of money I had to pony up for sales tax for each item.  Here sales tax is 9.25% and it doesn't take much time for the to amount to a significant amount of money.  Though I got well over $120 worth of merchandise, I still ended up spending close to $30.  $30 isn't a ton, but it's enough to make a dent in our budget. 

Bottom line, trying to play the drugstore game caused me to go shopping much more frequently that I normally do.  It cost me extra gas, extra time, & extra money.  I'm impressed at people who do enjoy playing the drugstore game & can make it a money saver, but for me & our family, it just wasn't worth it. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On My Mind--19 months

I'm joining Rhonda @ Down to Earth for her On My Mind series...

Emerson's turning 19 months old tomorrow.  I realize 19 months is rather arbitrary to celebrate, but each month she gets older I still marvel at what a blessing she is.  I'm thankful she's growing, & learning, & I'm thankful for the joy she brings to our lives.  She's a wonderful little girl.  We love you Doodlebug!