Frugal Living - Challenge 2021 Daily Frugal challenge

KmmCo

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Yesterday was a hot and misserable day. Gave up on the yard work pretty quickly. I did get to the grocery and found some bargain hamburger and chicken. I also got some stuff dropped off at Goodwill.

*Made sloppy joes for lunch. I sent the leftovers with my son, as he was going to his girlfriends on Fri night/Saturday.
*made margarita grilled chicken for dinner. Served it with black beans and corn....

This morning I have pork chops in the crockpot for dinner. Lunch will be leftover chicken and some salad. Trying not to make a bunch of leftovers since I am leaving tomorrow to go back to AK. I am going to bake a batch of banana muffins to go with me for snacks and breakfast.

Really looking forward to getting back out of the heat for a little while.
 

KmmCo

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Got my dinner made for the airport - egg salad sandwich. Banana muffins are split between me and my son because it made a lot (18 muffins). I am all ready to go except for waiting for my son to come pick me up this afternoon. I did dishes, washed the last of my dirty laundry, and checked the garden one last time.

I guess I will just mess on the computer and maybe play a game or something for a little bit. It is too hot to get outside again today already....
If you all don't hear from me for a few days, it is just because I don't have good Wifi while camping in AK,
 

Gardencook

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Made it to another free municipal band concert in the park last night. They do six concerts each season, but had to cancel last year's concerts after more than 80 continual years of performances. We've made it to three of the five they've held this year and really enjoy them. We were listening to Patriotic Pops in Jackson, Wyoming the night of the July 4 concert and were too busy after the trip to get to the one the following week.

We've gotten some really nice produce markdowns which we're currently eating our way through. Probably too many to name but we've gotten grapefruit, Mandarins, apples, peaches, mangoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, summer squash, pea pods, ginger, daikon and red radishes ... I've probably left off a big chunk of others. Just can't resist when there is so much good produce that will go to waste if someone doesn't buy it.

Made a big pot of chili in the Crock-Pot over the weekend so we've been using the produce to create a little variety rather than a bowl of soup every single night.

We headed across town today to buy some sale plums which our regular stores haven't had on sale this year. I suspect they must be in short supply, because the store today almost had them out of reach of most customers. I'm tall and I almost couldn't reach them!

The store also gave us another $2/$10 organic coupon, so we bought some more whole wheat lasagna. I REALLY didn't need more right now, but it is on sale, the coupon makes it a really great price and I'm terrified they'll discontinue the stuff like all the other stores in town. The bigger, sister store in another city didn't sell it any longer when we tried to get it there less than a month ago.

Trying to hold myself together when I'm forced to write so many complaint letters, however. It gets REALLY old when nothing seems to function correctly any longer. I'd REALLY prefer everything went smoothly. :rolleyes:

Submitted another receipt to Kellogg's tonight and immediately got a notice it had been rejected again. Seems like I've got to send a ticket on each and every purchase any longer. It isn't exactly a motivator to buy more.

Had to submit one to P&G a week or so ago, but at least that doesn't happen as often. I bought two of the same item, but the computer only saw one of them when it read the receipt.

After I had to complain about a rude GNC employee we finally got a $10 reward we had been promised along with a $5 reward for all the trouble we'd had. I couldn't get into the web site when they arrived to check on them, then I got notice they were about to expire. We finally used those on a bag of beet powder which we'll use in smoothies, but after the hassle we'd had it didn't seem like a bargain.

A local restaurant refused to honor a promotion the other night. I wrote corporate and got a response over the weekend with a $20 electronic gift card. The problem is, the restaurant is so hit-and-miss we aren't terribly motivated to go back for a while.

Three visits back they gave us an empty ketchup bottle. When we asked for one that actually contained ketchup, the server brought it to the table then walked away without leaving it when she saw the empty one, so we had to ask again, along with asking for water refills and not being offered "bottomless" side refills until we were ready to leave.

The time after that, the server and food were top notch.

Friday I knew there was trouble when three greeters were standing up front chatting and "too busy" to open the door for arriving guests -- as is the restaurant policy. Then they wouldn't honor the coupon, so we left without eating. It is like the restaurant is bipolar -- you never know which mood you will get.

Took advantage of some gift card fuel points promotions at our regular grocery on Friday. The receipt confirmed that we'd gotten the points, then one page of my account showed them and the other didn't. By the next morning they'd taken the points away!

Customer service at corporate used to be really good when it was American-based, but now they've outsourced. First I got a recorded message that if it wasn't "urgent" I should use the website, but it wasn't something that could be explained easily in a comment. Still not sure what is considered "urgent" when it comes to contacting a grocery chain. IF it were a medical emergency or the store was on fire, I'd call 911 NOT corporate.

I decided that since the end of the month was only a few days away and we didn't want to lose our points, that necessitated speaking to a REAL person -- after all, the web site said I could call even though the recording said I shouldn't.

When I called back, voicemail wouldn't allow me to talk to a human REPEATEDLY, then I finally got through to a human, but the volume was so low and the voice so muffled I couldn't make out a single word of the greeting. When I tried to explain I was put on hold with no explanation and no idea if anyone was coming back. The next three calls the voicemail disconnected me when I chose to speak to a human.

Next call I finally got through to someone who didn't have a clue about the store policies. After putting me on hold about 20 times, she claimed the gift cards weren't eligible for fuel points despite the fact I had coupons proving they were, a receipt that confirmed the wording on the coupons and we've purchased the same cards there multiple times and gotten fuel points.

Our local store finally took care of the points, but I tried to alert the store on the web site the first recording wanted me to use this morning and repeatedly got told there was an "error" and my comments wouldn't submit. So tonight I had to write another letter to send by snail mail.

On a positive note, I found quite a few coupons to print when Swagbucks was offering two SB for every print this past week. Even though I ended up printing coupons on several different days, they all credited the next day -- including the ones I printed on the weekend. I didn't have to send a single ticket! Sure hope that is getting straightened out so I don't have to send a ticket every time I print coupons any longer.

The smoke from the wildfires was REALLY bad again today. My eyes are burning tonight, my sinuses are a mess and my throat has been kind of raspy even though it isn't sore.

Last week there were several days we couldn't see our mountains AT ALL -- even though we live in a valley surrounded by mountains. We heard the constant drone of the fire bombers all weekend long, but weren't sure which of the multitude of fires they were trying to defeat. There are SO many and our airport fire planes service several neighboring states in addition to our own.

We've got another heat advisory tomorrow and then temperatures are supposed to drop for a few days -- if the forecasters are correct. We're sure hoping they are. The hot weather has really left us sapped of energy this summer and we just aren't used to nights that DO NOT cool down like in normal years. That used to be an advantage we had over Boise and Salt Lake City.
 
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Gardencook

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Today was one of those days where I often wondered why I got out of bed, but in the end I guess it was worth it.

After a couple false starts and a HUGE storm that they've been promising us for weeks we finally got going.

We were hoping to use a coupon I'd gotten here on HCW after the web site of a local store showed at least 12 different items by one brand in stock at our store. However, we checked the other day and couldn't find a single one.

After nearly getting clobbered in the credit union parking lot by crazy drivers we headed to the discount grocery. We haven't been there for a couple weeks and they've been getting in new merchandise.

When we got close to the store, we saw a fire engine with lights flashing just past a stop light. Across the street (in the back of the discount grocery building) we saw a worker in a hard hat so knew something was up. At first we thought there was a flooding problem, but then we realized the stop light was out, so figured the fire engine was trying to alert people and avoid accidents. The traffic light just past that one was out, as well.

After seeing the construction worker in back of the building, we wondered if the discount grocery even had electricity and was closed, however, when we pulled up in front we noticed the neon "Open" sign in the window and figured they must have electricity even though the traffic lights were out.

We went into the store and immediately encountered a fellow who seemed very confused and didn't have a clue where he should be going. I knew following him would be awkward, so I skipped the first couple aisles and figured we'd come back after he was finished in them. We had just started shopping when the owner and manager came to warn us the construction guy had just told them that he was going to shut off their power in a few minutes. While they were telling us, all the lights went out. They definitely didn't give them the few minutes warning they had been promised.

The owner was friendly and told us and the other customer we could stay and shop if we'd like. They'd just figure our total on their phones instead of the register. They even offered us a flashlight, but by then DH had the light on his phone going and I was digging for the one in my purse -- which of course, I couldn't find on short notice. I just switched purses and even though I saw it within the past couple days, couldn't remember which pocket. :rolleyes:

Anyway, we decided rather than stumble through the store missing things it would be better to come back later. We bought the three packs of small, whole wheat street taco tortillas we'd already found and headed out. At least they were easy to calculate. The owner told the manager he'd just close the store since they didn't plan to bring the power back for at least couple hours -- closing time for the store.

As we left, the clerks from Family Dollar next door were coming over -- most likely to see what he had decided to do without power. I'm sure they had to close that store, as well.

We were going to swing over to Walmart next, when we noticed the grandfather of the owner of the discount grocery had a new sign on his place. He has now started stocking groceries in his second store -- in the spot where his grandson originally started his store. I have no idea if the two are now cooperating with each other or they are in direct competition. I know the grandfather mentioned he had gotten in a load of groceries on his Facebook page a few weeks ago, but we went into his larger store next door -- where he usually has the groceries -- and we couldn't see that he had gotten much. I guess we just didn't understand that he was putting them in the other store.

We stopped in to see what he had and did pick up some items -- mostly things I could have done without, but couldn't resist trying. He had some interesting Indian and Thai simmer sauces, a bottle of my favorite Soy Vay Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce and a few other odds and ends.

After deciding to treat ourselves to Panera -- using a gift card so no money OOP -- we dropped by a grocery store which had just put out a bunch of produce on markdown. We got a nice Cassava Melon, a personal watermelon and three fresh pineapples for 99 cents each. However, we didn't find much else and even with a few fuel points for bringing our own bags we didn't quite make the next fuel level as I'd hoped.

Did manage to reach it at the next store after buying a whole lot more hand soap than we had planned, but it was a good deal.

We'll be making fruit salad and hopefully a fruit crisp from some of the bounty of produce we've been getting lately.
 

Gardencook

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Today was the last day of the double fuel points offer and the first day of the month. We saved several items for the new month hoping they'd have things in stock when we got there. Often that is a pretty big IF, but thankfully it worked out well today.

Picked up a few markdown produce items and some items that will go off sale Tuesday.

Over the past several weeks the store has had some razors and blades it was discontinuing on markdown. We had a digital coupon which took $4 off the razor which came with two blades the first week. A week or so later I got another coupon that took $3 off a set of four blades. In today's paper we got an insert coupon that took another $3 off the last pack of four blades. All together we got a razor and 10 blades for about $11. Without the discount and coupons they would have retailed more than $50 and should keep DH in blades for quite a while again.

Also found a couple boxes of SOS Steel Wool pads on the discount table and picked them up, because I think they are getting really hard to find. With everyone going to ceramic stovetops, I suppose people figure they are obsolete, but there are some things only steel wool will clean.

I got some printable coupons on cases of water last month and our regular stores had them on sale. However, the one store isn't giving coins again, because of the metal shortage (that never really hit our area last year), there is also supposedly a water and ice shortage and now it is claiming there is a plastic shortage -- i.e. it hardly had ANY water. They had a limit of two -- which was pretty well useless since they didn't have any.

The other store only had one case one day and two another. We have no idea if it is still imposing limits on water or not, since they've hardly ever got any. lol! They understandably imposed a REALLY strict limit a few weeks ago when the RIDICULOUS record-setting heatwave hit the northwest.

Today that store was well stocked with an entire end cap of water cases -- and this week the cases had four bottles free in each case. We had two coupons remaining so picked them up. We stopped at a chair on the way out so I could check and make sure all the digital deals came off our receipt. A woman was entering the store and exclaimed when she saw water in our cart. She said she had just been to Costco and they were completely wiped out, as well.

She asked how much they were charging and was quite pleased to find out they were on sale, so I doubt the endcap will be full much longer.
 

Gardencook

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Trying to get back in the swing of things again, since we've been getting so much produce.

Last night we made vegetable juice using a variety of veggies including yellow beets, carrots, celery, zucchini, ginger ...

Put the pulp in the Crock-Pot overnight with onions, garlic, extra ginger and water to make a nice pot of vegetable broth.

This morning we roasted a bunch of veggies including a couple heads of cauliflower, a couple potatoes, onions etc.

Heated up the spices in a little oil in a Dutch Oven and then added the vegetable broth and roasted veggies for a nice soup. It has been nice to be a bit cooler the past few days, so it wasn't so bad to heat up the oven and eat hot soup.

Last night we caught the last free Municipal Band Concert in the park for the season. The sky was rather dark throughout, but thankfully we didn't get rained out. We really enjoy the concerts and certainly missed them last year when they were cancelled. We've got a pretty dedicated group in the band here including a former conductor/now band member who has been with the band since the 1940s and another since the 1950s as well as several from the 1960s. The band is still getting new members each year, as well.
 

Gardencook

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It was a senior discount day and we ended up with a dreaded large shopping trip again.

The biggest problem was the mulch we needed for the garden. We're trying to whip things back in shape after neglecting them due to several crises in the family the past years. However, it is getting close to the end of the season and if we didn't buy mulch soon, we wouldn't get any. There is only one store in town that sells the finer stuff. Everywhere else they sell big chunks that NEVER rot back into the soil, twist ankles when you step on the chunks and are a pain to work around and keep under control.

We got the 10 percent discount on garden supplies, so when we were relieved to see they still had some on Sunday, we knew it would go on our list today. We had too much "non-discount" stuff to buy on Sunday to pack it on the cart that day.

When we entered the store I took a small cart for groceries and DH came behind with an empty large cart for the mulch. That worked pretty well and we were able to get five bags home using the larger cart.

It was the last day on several store brand sale items we hadn't picked up in a while and we couldn't resist the extra discount. We got granola bars (both house brand and Nature Valley) for 89 cents a box after coupons/discounts.

Shredded cheese was only $1.34, we were out of feta and the store brand is cheaper -- especially with the discount. Didn't have a coupon for that this time which really hurt.

The store FINALLY had organic refried beans back in stock! They were 71 cents a can after coupon and discount. We could have bought them for 79 cents a can the past couple weeks and normally would have, but the store hasn't had any in about a year so I thought they were discontinued and have been buying them at discount stores for about the same price whenever I could get them. I think I still have a rain check from months ago.

We also got instant oatmeal for 89 cents a box and luncheon meat for $1.79. They had uncured turkey pastrami today so I couldn't resist trying it.

We had $15.50 in cash back from purchases over the past few weeks and before the trip I loaded that to our card so it came off our total. We also got a $3 Catalina back on the purchase of the Nature Valley bars.

Before hitting that store we also went to the store across town where we could get two dozen eggs for 88 cents each, a half gallon of oat milk for 99 cents and four bags of shredded Swiss cheese for $1.49 each -- all after coupon. Our regular store doesn't sell house brand shredded Swiss, so I like to get it at this store when it goes on sale.

We came home and doctored frozen pizza for dinner. We often go with that dinner option after a big shopping trip when we can get a decent price. Today was the last day we could get Freschettas for $2.99 each.
 

Gardencook

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We took an overnight trip to Logan, Utah -- just across the state border -- leaving Thursday and returning Friday. Killed several birds with one stone so to speak.

We have gold membership with a couple different hotel chains as well as silver membership with another. We used to do so much traveling -- then Covid hit. Thankfully, the hotels have extended memberships due to the pandemic. I'm sure we'll lose our gold status with one chain this year, but the one chain has allowed us to keep the nights we had going into the mess. They actually hiked us to the next level for a short while -- hoping to get us to stay during the pandemic, but where did anyone really want to go?

We still needed two more nights to maintain our current status -- and I've forgotten whether we have to do that by this fall, the end of the year or next spring since they've all got different dates.

We figured an overnight stay in Logan would be a nice getaway and leave us needing only one more night to maintain our status. We've been using Airbnb and VRBO to get the kitchens, since hotels are only going with carb-laden grab-and-go breakfasts these days and we don't want to plop down more money on an expensive restaurant breakfast. However, I noticed in the reviews of the hotel we chose that they were back to serving full breakfasts, so we jumped on it.

It was a nice trip other than a few more glitches than normal.

We had quite a hassle getting checked into the hotel and still don't know why. The desk clerk told us the credit card we'd used to reserve the room was declined, then the second one was declined as well. Since both cards were completely paid off, we couldn't help but worry that we'd somehow been hacked again like we were a couple times a year or two ago. He thought it was because we were traveling, but we had no trouble using them in Wyoming and Montana which was a longer distance. We do let the credit union know when we're taking a long trip, but Logan's even closer than Jackson and both are almost "local" to our area.

DH spent a good half hour on the phone -- and of course, check-in is always right before financial institutions close for the day. First he spoke with our one credit union, who directed him to the fraud detection company which couldn't find a problem so it sent us back to our credit union. Everything checked out fine with both who verified that we had no charges to our card and that our credit rating was fine. They finally concluded that the problem had to be with the hotel card reader -- but the numerous individuals who checked in while DH was going through all that had credit cards that went through just fine.

UGH! When it isn't one thing, it is another. Technology is great WHEN it works, but lookout when it doesn't!

The credit union finally did something on their end. The first time the card wouldn't go through, but they did something else and it finally went through.

From there we went to dinner at Rumbi Island Grill -- one of our favorite restaurants ... normally. We were later than we planned getting there, due to the credit card hassle.

We entered the restaurant and I headed for a table only to have a young gal come in behind me, shove me out of the way and grab the table near the window for which she saw I was headed. She wasn't with anyone and wasn't ordering food, she simply sat playing on her phone, apparently waiting for someone to get off work, because she seemed to know all the staff.

We had a coupon for a free entrée with the purchase of another entrée and a beverage. We each wanted a chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetable bowl which retailed for $11.99 -- of course the drink would add a little more, we only got water (in a cup, not bottled) as the second drink. DH placed our order at the counter and was informed the total was more than $41!

He explained that wasn't correct, a manager came over to "fix it" and that lowered the price to $28! It finally took three employees to get the price down to a little more than $15 where it belonged. When DH tried to get our drinks, the soda was so full of foam he brought a half empty cup to the table, meanwhile the no sugar added iced tea machines were "out of order."

Then we barely got our food when one of the employees went to the front door and turned out the "Open" sign -- despite the fact it was still quite a while from closing time.

A few minutes later another employee locked the doors, even though the restaurant was still full and customers were still arriving. They locked out at least eight or 10 disappointed customers while we were finishing up our meals. We definitely weren't impressed and don't think we'll be returning to that particular Rumbi location any time in the future. :rolleyes:

I had a $5 Kohl's reward that needed to be used by the end of the month, so we made a quick trip in there the next morning. I couldn't find anything for myself in clothing or housewares, but we did find a nice men's shirt on a clearance rack for DH. Got to the register and the man ahead of us was conversing with the clerk about what a great shopper he was and his wife agreed. He was buying two shirts off the clearance rack and I heard the clerk tell him the total was more than $48. That didn't sound like such an astounding deal to me, but I figured it was his money.

However, after he paid he looked at the receipt and asked the clerk why he had been charged for two belts when he didn't buy belts. It seems the fellow ahead of him decided not to buy them and the clerk forgot to void the transaction, so this fellow had paid for them without questioning the price -- even though he knew it seemed way too high.

Had he questioned the price it would have saved a lot of time and hassle, but that meant the whole credit card transaction had to be voided which required a manager and took FOREVER. They FINALLY called for a second cashier when the line got ridiculously long.

Meanwhile, a 15 percent code had come in an email that morning so I didn't have a chance to print it out at home and DH couldn't get my email to come up on his phone. He could get into his own email and our joint account, but NOT mine. Thankfully, the clerk finally called it up on her phone. After the $5 reward and the code, DH's shirt came to a little more than $5, but it took us at least 45 minutes in the store.

We drove a little way out of town to visit a Pepperidge Farms thrift store at a factory where we've never had the time to stop. Picked up some cookies which are delicious, but we didn't really need. They didn't accept cash and thankfully our credit card worked without a hitch there. I was curious to see the Campbell's frozen foods everyone talks about, but it was rather odd to find ALL the freezers along the back wall completely empty. I don't know what was going on there.

We got some really great discounts at one grocery store where I ran in to look around. The store had a "Mexican Caesar" salad kit which I've never seen at our local stores. We tried it for dinner tonight.

The store was also clearing out some frozen entrées, including some delicious Cedarlane organic ones marked down to $1.09. They also had some family-size organic chicken entrées including a Thai Green Curry and a Tikka Masala. Both of them were ones I wanted to try when the chain brought them out and sent me coupons a couple years ago -- but our stores didn't carry them. Now apparently they're being discontinued so if I didn't buy them, I'd never get the chance. They had two of each left and at $1.75 I couldn't resist buying them all.

We checked out the Big Lots store there, but weren't terribly impressed. We also checked out a discount store we have shopped a few times in another city and found a few things there. My email this week said we'll be getting our own store in October!

We also got the chance to drop by the Gossner Foods Factory store while we were there. Gossner is well known for its Swiss cheese and apparently if you buy Swiss cheese (including most house brands) here in the west, chances are it came from Gossner. Prices are quite reasonable at the factory and we picked up both regular and smoked Swiss cheese and smoked cheddar curds as well as getting some Feta cheese at a much better price than we can buy it here.

They also sell shelf-stable whipping cream and milks in a variety of flavors. I was interested in the whipping cream, thinking it might be handy to have on hand for cooking. However, they've currently got a shortage so you could only purchase single boxes which seemed quite high so I passed. I'll stick with evaporated milk in my cream soups. It is a lot cheaper.

They used to offer samples of all sorts of products before Covid hit. I probably would have purchased more if I'd gotten to try before I bought, but since we really didn't need more, the lack of samples may have been a good thing.

We dropped by Home Depot to see if they had display models of the two refrigerators we've been unable to look at in our store. Unfortunately, they didn't stock them either -- even though that store is supposedly larger than ours.

Best Buy also sells one of the fridges we've wanted to see, so we dropped in there only to learn they didn't have it either. Then we spent some time speaking with an electronics employee about what would be entailed in compatibility issues if I were to buy an Apple computer while DH was still using a Microsoft. We also wondered about printers and other devices we already own.

He spent a lot of time trying to talk us into their tech support warranty -- which would be great if they'd actually build a store in our city so we didn't have to drive so far if we had problems.

Then Microsoft did another update on DH's computer today -- IMMEDIATELY before his conference call meeting leaving him DEAD in the water for the first 20 minutes or so when people were depending on him. Now he can't use the one printer, because they fouled up the wireless on that and without the USB ports MIcrosoft fouled up a few months ago, he can't get that running again. That is the printer we use to scan receipts and since my computer hasn't been able to run that printer for MONTHS since another Microsoft update fouled it up -- we are now without a scanner and my computer is the only one that connects with the non-scanning laser printer. What does Microsoft have against us anyway? Conspiracy theories are beginning to sound more logical every single day!

We went a few miles out of our way coming home. The northern end of the Utah fruit stands start right outside Brigham City and Maddox Ranch House restaurant is right across the street from one of our favorite stands so we decided to drive an extra half hour south to visit them.

Maddox was great as usual, but pickings were pretty slim at the two produce stands we visited. We didn't really have time to go farther south down the highway. It is a little early in the season, but I was at least hoping to see some green spaghetti squash in stock -- a favorite early season treat. Instead, the second stand had about three or four small, fully ripe ones, but that was the ONLY winter squash we saw. The water of a lot of Utah farmers is getting cut off this year due to the drought and I'm afraid it is already showing up at the produce stands.

We did get some nice fresh corn, local beets and green beans so it wasn't a total loss. I wasn't in the market for bushels of peaches or plums and the per pound price is actually cheaper at the supermarket.

We had a 60 cent fuel reward with which we fueled the tank at the end of last month. Then we used a $1.00 per gallon reward to fuel the tank at Brigham City on the way home. We were glad to have the extra savings with the way gas prices have been skyrocketing in recent months.
 
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Abbybob

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It's been a while, but I'm working on getting the credit card debt paid off- next month will be the last month and I'll have the AMex paid off. Then I will start putting that money in savings, in addition to the usual amount that I have put into savings each month.

I've been doing a food share with a local group and splitting it with a friend since there is a lot of food each week. We've been getting the weekly food budget down to about $120/week, including Friday night take-out. Lots of meal prep and lots of meal planning.

I've been using Fetch Rewards a ton and posting my referral link on Twitter weekly. Between referrals and regular shopping (and my parents give me their receipts too), I'm earning about $10-$15/week. I've been cashing out for Target and Amazon GC to get back to school shopping done for low OOP.

Most of the summer has been cheap stay-at-home stuff. Swimming at the community pool daily (free), playing with friends, weekly library visits.

School starts in 9 days, and then I'm going to start looking for a job while the kids are at school. My goal is to find a job that pays $17-$19/hours, which is a smidge over minimum wage in our area. I need to make at least $1500/month to pay mortgage and taxes. I'll be relying on frugal strategies to cover the rest of my bills.

I've missed you all, and I'm back!
 

Gardencook

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Good to see you back @Abbybob !

Nothing too thrilling to report. We're still recovering from our trip out of town, I guess. Picked up quite a bit of food on the trip, so haven't really needed to go to the store.

DH ran into the store for something while he was out yesterday. He found some celery hearts on markdown and called to see if he should get them. I forgot we had a 40 cent best customer coupon on celery. (Actually, had I remembered I wouldn't have expected it to work, since the produce department usually messes with the sku numbers at that store so they don't work.) Anyway, he got a package of celery hearts for 89 cents after coupon, so not a bad deal.

We've still got a couple sandwiches in the fridge from our trip which we need to remember to eat. Should have had them for lunch today, but I forgot.

We took sandwiches along on our trip. The restaurants are all fast food at Garden City/Bear Lake and the Bear Lake Raspberry Days were going on so we knew they would be busy.

The town was actually packed, so we were glad we had the sandwiches, but finding a place to eat them was just as difficult. There was a city park where the tables were all in full sun with NO trees. We didn't want to pay to get into a Utah State Park just to eat a sandwich when we weren't staying.

We have an Idaho State Parks pass, but the Idaho park was quite a distance away. We knew there were tables at the viewpoint at the top of Logan Pass, but didn't want to wait that long ... We finally just ended up eating sandwiches on the road.

We picked up some small vegetable trays on markdown on our way out of town -- 99 cents each. I ate half of one on the road and DH ate the other half when we stopped at the viewpoint. lol!

We did stop at a store on our way out of town Thursday. It was a 10 percent discount day and we had some decent coupons we could use, as well. There was another $2/$10 organics coupon we used to buy more whole wheat lasagna which is still on sale. They also had a decent coupon on organic granola and we could save a little extra on six containers of yogurt -- two of which we ate on the trip. The store also sent a coupon for another free package of hand wipes and we found a great clearance price 25 ounce jugs of Safeguard hand soap. The extra discount brought them down to $1.34 each.

DH is off buying a door knob for our front door today. The cylinder of ours has been falling out for ages and we're afraid it will get lost one of these days locking us out of the house. I actually had hopes for other projects today, but was relieved he was finally getting around to fixing it.

Got a better deal than expected when we got back into town Friday. Our store has been offering a decent cash back deal on grass-fed hot dogs the past few weeks, and they've been an easy lunch so I've been buying them. I had another deal that was going to expire yesterday or today, but the store usually runs out of hot dogs on the weekends, so I was afraid if I didn't buy them Friday, we wouldn't get them.

I was pleasantly surprised to find them on mega sale when we got there. They're normally $6.49, are on sale for $3.99, the mega sale brought them down to $2.99 when you bought five and the cash back offer made five packages $1.49 each. The store just put the cash in our account this morning.

We just picked up a few good deals while we were there, because it was too much after a trip to do a big shopping trip, however, the cashier was pretty impressed. We got a very expensive tube of toothpaste (free after mega sale and coupon), a can of salsa (39 cents after coupon), five packs of hot dogs a jar of pasta sauce (free with best customer coupon) and a couple other items and the total came down to about $23 after coupons. It had been close to $60 before coupons. I forgot to tell her that the actual total came down to about $15 after cash back.
 
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KmmCo

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It has been forever since I've been here. I gotta go back and read all the posts. I am back home in Colorado now. Lots of crazy stories to tell though.

I had issues with my van starting for a couple of days in AK. I finally figured out the original key was bad and the copy works better. Glad it wasn't something that cost a lot of money. I still have to go get another spare key. That leads me to the story that I locked my key in the van in Montana, I got another RV person to use a coat hanger to get my door open. I didn't have beer to gIve him, so I passed off my bottle of rum instead. *Way cheaper than calling a locksmith for sure.

I had another panic in Wyoming when I thought I lost my wallet at a gas station. Finally found it under the seat. Black wallet on black floor was almost imposibble to spot. If I ever get a new wallet, it will be a bright color.

Anyway, the ferry ride was nice and went off without any major problems.... I got to see Juneau for a minute because I had to change ferry's there. Wasn't impressed though. We had a layover of 5 hours in Ketchikan also, so I walked to downtown and back. Exercise and a little sightseeing too..... I want to go back to explore Ketchikan some more. I really liked that town.. I mostly did microwaved food on the ferry, but I did have one lunch of chicken tenders and fries from the cafe. I also got a dessert once. I grabbed a cup of chili to go with my own sandwich for lunch one day too.

*When I got to Bellingham, I grabbed a Jersey Mikes sub for lunch and had enough for two meals from that. .I used my August $10 off dining, so it only cost $3 for the sub and a pepsi. Not bad since I was able to turn it into two meals. (I bought cherries at a farm stand and had them a couple of times on the way home. I still have a few left that I can snack on here.)

Backtracking to Alaska, I got rocked by an 8.2 earthquake one night. It just happened to be the night that I had a beachfront camp site that I paid $40 for. The tsunami warning resulted in a 3 hour evacuation from the campground. I got back at 1 am so it was a pretty short night of sleep.. Some people never even bothered coming back to the campground, but the next moring it was beautiful waking up at the beach. I really enjoyed camping there.

I only took 5 days and 4 nights to get home from Washington state. it was so smokey and hot that I didn't linger much along the way. I did see one waterfall and took a nature hike in Washington state along Hiway 2. (Hiway 20 where I was going to go had a wildfire closure, so I skipped that). I dropped down to I90 at the end of the first day . I crossed the short little part of Idaho and drove through Montana. The only real "fun stuff" I did was go swimming one hot afternoon at a Billings MT public pool. I also stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield for a morning of exploration.. I didn't do anything in Wyoming except drive and sleep one night and drive some more. At that point, I just wanted to get home.

*All my lower 48 "camping" was free. I stopped for the night at rest areas when it got close to sunset. It saved me $$. I didn't have drive away from the hiway to find a campsite, so that saved me a lot of time too....

I do have a list of places I want to visit sometime when the smoke and heat is not so bad. I just couldn't see wasting time sightseeing if I was going to be miserable doing so.....
 

KmmCo

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Post was getting long. So I will tell you the rest in this one. I got home at noonish on Sunday. I got my cooler cleaned out and laundry done and just didn't feel like doing much else. DH made lunch and dinner as I didn't even have the energy to cook....

Today was super busy all day. I unloaded as much as I could out of the van, until it got too hot this morning. I showered after lunch and then proceeded to drink liquid until I felt like I was drowning. I had to go do a urine drug test for my job that I am taking at Christmas time. Kinda early in my opinion, but they wanted them done this week. I just got the email over the weekend and figured I would just get it over with today. While I was out and about, I took a small check to the bank (the remainder of the natural gas deposit after they took out the last bill}. It was something like $12, but I wanted to get it out of my house before I lost it.

I also went to the car wash and got most of the dirt off my van. It wasn't a perfect job, but at least the doors are cleaner so I can unload some more stuff in the morning without getting so dirty myself. I also cleaned the floor on the inside of the van, scrubbed the cooler, reorganized my camping food shelf, and washed my little area rugs. *I had a really nice area rug in my apartment in Anchorage that I am using by the bed in the van. I paid $21 for that rug and am glad that I can repurpose it. The original thrift store rug that I had in the van got moved to the side door to catch the stuff I don't want to track in, so it is serving a good purpose too.

After having quite a few camping trips under my belt, I am learning where I want stuff and feeling like I am getting it all better organized. Now I can look forward to my September trip. I have 4 people to visit already on my route. One is even gonna let me use her shower when I come - so nice of her to do that. That is the biggest downfall of van life - washing in a bucket just doesn't cut it after a couple of days on the road.

Anyway, I am glad to be home for a while. I have a lot of gardening/yard work to do again. I picked 6 cucumbers today and am gonna make some refidgerator pickles tomorrow.. My son put a giant zuchinni in the garage and I told him I would make him a zuchinni bread next weekend when he comes over.

*Today I had leftovers from yesterday for my lunch. I also made a boatload of spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight and will probably be eating that for a couple more days now. DH changed his hours and is not home for dinner on the days he works now. He does like to make a big breakfast for himself in the morning. Today, I just had one packet of oatmeal for myself. I didn't want eggs, which is what he was cooking.
 
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KmmCo

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I got some printable coupons on cases of water last month and our regular stores had them on sale. However, the one store isn't giving coins again, because of the metal shortage (that never really hit our area last year), there is also supposedly a water and ice shortage and now it is claiming there is a plastic shortage -- i.e. it hardly had ANY water. They had a limit of two -- which was pretty well useless since they didn't have any.

The other store only had one case one day and two another. We have no idea if it is still imposing limits on water or not, since they've hardly ever got any. lol! They understandably imposed a REALLY strict limit a few weeks ago when the RIDICULOUS record-setting heatwave hit the northwest.

Today that store was well stocked with an entire end cap of water cases -- and this week the cases had four bottles free in each case. We had two coupons remaining so picked them up. We stopped at a chair on the way out so I could check and make sure all the digital deals came off our receipt. A woman was entering the store and exclaimed when she saw water in our cart. She said she had just been to Costco and they were completely wiped out, as well.

She asked how much they were charging and was quite pleased to find out they were on sale, so I doubt the endcap will be full much longer.
I ran across the limits on bags of ice when I came across WA state and even western Montana too. Fortunately I only needed to pick up one at a time to keep my cooler cold. I just figured part of it was that it is camping/fishing season.

I saved what was left in my cooler of the ice. I put it into a ziplock bag and stuffed it into the chest freezer. There is a whole bag of ice in there that my son got for some reason and never used. I also will freeze some homemade 2 liter bottle ice blocks to start my next trip out. Since I will stay in places a couple of times that have fridges, I can refreeze them as I go along.

I had plenty of water with me. I had bottled water to drink in the cooler and I refilled my 5 gallon jug at the $40 campground in AK, just because you never know when you out camping if the local water is drinkable. I have most of that 5 gallon left and am going to dump it on the garden at some point. I can refill it again with fresh water before leaving on my next trip.

I will need to buy a case of bottled water at some point in the next 3 weeks. I had 7 left from my trip and I drank 2 yesterday, I think DH grabbed one to go to work with him too. Itis hot here and I am really trying to stay hydrated....
 

KmmCo

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Went to the store because I found a $5 off offer on one of my credit cards that expired today. I found more than I was initially going to get. I was just gonna grab a 2 liter and some bananas.

I found markdowns on mushrooms for $1 so I got 3 different packages. Portobella, white button, and shitake. I also found a $1 spinach bag and a $1.49 veggie tray with ranch dressing. I picked up a Rocky Ford cantaloupe and some Colorado peaches too.

* I made a pizza for lunch with spinach, mushrooms, and garden onion. I had the spaghetti sauce from last night and some flat breads here. I did pick up pizza cheese while in the store today (not on sale unfortunately).

*For dinner tonight I am making a small meatloaf. I had a lb of hamburger and only put a little in the spaghetti last night. the other 3/4+ will be a meatloaf. Maybe I will do them as mini loaves in my small pans. I guess I will have spinach salad with it and maybe some sauted mushrooms. There is some leftover corn from Sunday in the fridge too that I could have.

I unloaded a bunch of junk from the van and just piled it on the floor in the house. I figured I should get it all out while it was cool outside. This afternoon when it gets hot, then I can sit and sort it all to put it away. I know the winter coats, snow shovel, etc are not going back in the van for my trip to Florida. I just went ahead and pulled all my clothes out and will reorganize and repack what I need. I have so many undershirtts, work cargos, and socks that I did not need to turn in. Some of them are just going under the bed until I wear out some of my other clothes. *I actually like the cargo pants for doing things like hiking, so they will definitely get worn eventually.
 

Gardencook

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I ran across the limits on bags of ice when I came across WA state and even western Montana too. Fortunately I only needed to pick up one at a time to keep my cooler cold. I just figured part of it was that it is camping/fishing season.

I saved what was left in my cooler of the ice. I put it into a ziplock bag and stuffed it into the chest freezer. There is a whole bag of ice in there that my son got for some reason and never used. I also will freeze some homemade 2 liter bottle ice blocks to start my next trip out. Since I will stay in places a couple of times that have fridges, I can refreeze them as I go along.

I had plenty of water with me. I had bottled water to drink in the cooler and I refilled my 5 gallon jug at the $40 campground in AK, just because you never know when you out camping if the local water is drinkable. I have most of that 5 gallon left and am going to dump it on the garden at some point. I can refill it again with fresh water before leaving on my next trip.

I will need to buy a case of bottled water at some point in the next 3 weeks. I had 7 left from my trip and I drank 2 yesterday, I think DH grabbed one to go to work with him too. Itis hot here and I am really trying to stay hydrated....
We're getting hit hard by the "ice shortage" here. You can usually get cubed ice, but blocks are REALLY hard to come by right now. We couldn't get a block for travel when we left town last weekend AT ALL. We had to settle for cubes which only last a single day and the fridge in our hotel room was a tiny one without a freezer -- not that the tiny freezers freeze that much anyway.

In our area they have been blaming the extreme heat and wildfires in the West this summer for causing the ice and water shortages. Then the other day the one store started blaming a "plastic shortage" for the lack of water, but none of the other stores said anything about plastic being in short supply. "Shortages" seem to be an all-too-easy excuse right now and we don't know who to believe any longer. It seems more like the supply chain is broken, but they don't want to admit it.

The employees at the chain that is refusing to give coins here due to the "metal shortage" (which none of the other stores here seem concerned about) knew NOTHING about a metal shortage in Utah and seemed quite surprised when we said they weren't giving coins back home. They didn't have any signs about ice or plastic shortages either. Since we're only about 100 miles apart, how does that happen? Utah has been fighting the heat and wildfires worse than we have this summer and that chain relies on warehouses in Utah rather than the Idaho warehouses most stores up here use.

If you have a refrigerator on occasion, you might take a look at the selection of Ziploc containers available these days. A few years ago I stumbled on some that are PERFECT for our coolers so I keep buying them whenever I find a good deal on that size. They do crack occasionally so we do have to replace them, but they stack nicely inside each other so don't take up much space when they aren't in use.

We usually travel with a small upright cooler that fits nicely on the floor behind the driver's seat so I can reach it from the passenger side. It is perfect for holding the large cups of iced green tea I enjoy. It holds about four large cups and still holds a few bottles of water and a can or two of soda or juice for variety. Then we keep our food and extra water in a large chest cooler that I can't reach from the front.

I think the Ziplocs we use might say "large rectangle" on the package and come two to a pack. One is EXACTLY the same dimensions as the bottom of our upright cooler and three fit perfectly along the bottom of our large cooler. They are only a couple inches high, so don't take up too much room. My tea sits on top of ice all day long and is nice and cold whenever I need one. I've actually had unfrozen meat freeze a bit in the cooler when packed RIGHT by the ice with other foods packed on top of it.

We fill the containers with water and freeze them for a solid block of ice when we have a freezer. The water melts INSIDE the containers, so you don't have a bunch of water to pour out of your coolers and they are easy to remove and refreeze if you have a fridge again that night. We also fill the containers with ice from hotel ice machines IF we've got access to one and they stay almost as cold as if they were frozen solid. It sure saves a lot of hassle when we are exhausted pulling off the road at the end of the day.

If we've got extra space in the large cooler, we freeze an extra Ziploc container or two. It keeps the food extra cold and then if we hit a deal on something "interesting" at a store along the road we can pull out one of the Ziploc containers and stick it in a collapsible cooler until we reach a refrigerator that night. The system works really well for us.

Of course Covid has been a good excuse for hotels to quit running their ice machines. Since they've also gotten rid of their hot breakfasts, we've been using Airbnbs and VRBOs with kitchens a LOT more. It sure was nice to find a hotel with an ice machine AND hot breakfast last weekend!
 
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KmmCo

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I finished up entering my July receipts and it was bad news. Over budget a lot of places. Almost $500 total. Good news though was that I got $850 more in income than I budgeted for so I am still $350 ahead.

I am gonna start on the August reciepts in a moment and see how I did on those. I know that I spent $345 in gas for the trip home because I added those up already.... Did buy much other than the National Park pass so I should be in better shape for August. There is plenty of food here and I don't have any plans to do much that costs money this month.

My mini meatloaves are in the oven right now for dinner tonight. I haven't left the house since going to the store this morning. I am going to go out for a walk after dinner just to get some exercise....
 

KmmCo

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*lunch and dinner were leftovers today. I did eat a banana and a peach today, so something healthy for snacks.

I spend the day focusing on my clothing. I unpacked all the clothes that I pulled out of the van, repacked enough to take to the next trip, and put the excess away. I also got out for a haircut today.

My walk today was short because it was still pretty warm out. I did check a little library box, but didn't see anything I wanted today.
 

jastwins

※Kaboom!・:・:・゜
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This was not the summer I expected and cannot wait for it to be over. Last month I had my mother in law in the hospital twice and this month my dad passed away. He was 89 and lived a good life. In the end, he was unable to eat and drink and my mom wisely chose to place him on hospice. He passed away one day later.
I took of a couple of days last month and this month. It hurts my bank account and some bills will be paid late. So be it. As we went through the wake and funeral, many beautiful flowers and plants were sent for my dad. Even the funeral director told me he had never seen such gorgeous arrangements. However, you can only take so many to the burial site and the rest will be thrown away. My daughter pressed some flowers and mom took the plants home.
It also got me thinking that I do not have any burial plans or even a gravesite. Crankie thinks we can be buried where we live and I do not think that is the case. Mom had the burial place chosen over 25 years ago. The funeral and wake were done to perfection and my mom spared no expense. She decided she did not want to be placed “in the ground” and selected a site where you are buried above ground, in a wall where the space can hold 2 caskets. My brother in law is on the same wall since my sister purchased the burial place at the same time. Guess they are running out of ground space and are building up.
 

Gardencook

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We had enough places to go out of town today, that we decided to do some shopping an hour away. Didn't exactly come home with the car loaded, but I was trying hard not to buy much.

We did get some nice markdowns on fresh produce and cheese at the first store and picked up some free items as well as a few other items at Natural Grocers.

The one discount store is going to be moving to a new location in a little more than two weeks, so they aren't restocking the current store. However, even though my email with the sales didn't arrive this week, we didn't need a coupon for the 10 percent discount on all merchandise to help clear the store. We didn't get much but found a couple organic brown rice and beans side dish boxes, a couple boxes of potato pancakes and some salt-free organic tomato soup -- all for 50 cents each. The discount brought them down to 45 cents.

We picked up a small can of low-sodium pasta sauce for 31 cents after discount and a small bottle of Hunt's Ketchup was 36 cents after discount. The ketchup looked like a good size for travel and will pair well with the small jars of mustard we picked up at a sister store in Utah last week. We also picked up a couple loaves of whole wheat bread, because it is a lot cheaper there.

Big Lots and the thrift stores were a bust and the produce stand was pretty disappointing, as well. The farmers really seem to be struggling to bring in crops this year and selection at the roadside stands is WAY down.
 
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