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FYI-Amy's Pizza @ ALDI

January 26th, 2010 at 03:48 am

Imagine my surprise when I came across Amy's Pizzas at ALDI's.......for $4.49 each!

Don't know what they cost in your neck of the woods but around here they're $7-$9. So I bought 10.

Aldi's is also carrying Amy's vegetarian lasagna and enchiladas for $2.99 a box. Again, far cheaper than the larger chains in the area.

The Story of Stuff dot com

December 27th, 2008 at 02:25 am

Just came across this fabulous piece and wanted to share with you all. Merry Christmas.

Text is and Link is

I'd Like to Thank You all..........

September 17th, 2008 at 01:54 pm

A friend, who has been in financial straits for the last 3 years, called to borrow some money. While he's borrowed money from other mutual friends he's never asked me until now. Said he needed it to take the dog to the vet and that he'll pay me back, blah, blah.....

My initial reaction was, "yeah right". Luckily I kept this to myself. What quickly followed (and to my own surprise) was: "Let me mail you a check and consider this a gift".

Did you all get that? A GIFT! Not until I became a member of this site had I ever considered gifting money to someone who needed it! Not that I don't donate to various charities but you never actually get to see your dollars accomplish anything. By gifting this money I don't have to stew over when and how I'll be paid back because it doesn't matter anymore! Plus it's helping the pooch.

So, thank you ALL for helping to change a mindset and enlightening me. I gotta tell you I feel great about this!

"Where do you keep YOUR money?"

August 31st, 2007 at 09:03 pm

It was a question asked in the regular forum that got me thinking. The question was "where do you keep your money?"

My answer was 2 checking accounts and 2 MM accounts. One of those MM accounts had $25k and change. It wasn't until I saw the numbers in print that it hit me how much that really was. Not that the yield was bad but come on! I was dipping into that account to pay off bigger credit card balances. Funny how one's mind can trick oneself into thinking you've got piles of the stuff and can therefore spend willy nilly. (And I'm a REAL tightwad!)

As fate would have it, a day or so after I posted my answer some dear on fatwallet dot com posted an unbelievable 90 day CD deal (10%) offered by a local bank chain. It was just the thing to get me off my duff (and into the city) to open the account. Luckily, I called the first bank to see if they would match the rate (they couldn't) but was told I'd be losing $90 in interest if I closed out the MM account before the 25th of the month. Problem was the CD offer could be taken off the table any day. Why lose money, right? So on the advice of a wonderfully helpful gal I transferred over the $25k last week and left just a little in the account to get that $90 before closing it out today and not incurring a fee for falling below the average daily balance.

Now what I'm going to do about paying off the upcoming credit card bill is going to be a different matter.

Cheap paper towels

June 6th, 2007 at 08:59 pm

I hate (detest, really) having to pay high prices for anything but especially for paper products. Luckily this week CVS is having a Proctor & Gamble promotion where you get $5 in extra care bucks if you spend $20. Bounty 8 count bundles are included in the promo so this is what I did to get the cost down:


(5) Bounty bundles - $5.99 ea.
(1) Dawn dish detergent - $0.88


Coupons used:

(5) 25 cents off any Bounty
(1) 25 cents off Dawn
$4 off $20 CVS internet coupon (expired)
$5 off $30 CVS internet coupon
$3 off $15 CVS coupon from May07 Ladies Home Journal magazine
$5 Extra Care Bucks from a prior CVS promo

Total after all coupons was $12.33 and I received another $5 extra care bucks to use at a future date at CVS.

It's my understanding that my CVS will accept their own expired Q's if they are less than 2 weeks beyond the expiry date. However YMMV.

Got my money, but......

May 29th, 2007 at 06:55 pm

as I feared, it was a short pay.

To those just tuning in, this is a continuation of the previous blog entry where I loaned money and was now in the uncomfortable position of having to shake down the borrower.

Here's what happened: friend showed up and handed me a check written from her own checkbook that was short. When I brought this up, she said her daughter had given her the full amount in cash but she (the friend) needed to pay something so that's why I got a short paid check. My next comment was, "what am I, a piece of garbage?" She said no, but she needed the money to pay for something. I guess I was supposed to be understanding.

Unbelievable! The freakin' nerve.

Later that night I notice she paid for her portion of the restaurant tab in cash. This is highly unusual since she ALWAYS pays with her debit card. So it was pin money she needed and it was mine!

Still worried that the check may bounce, this morning I went to one of the branches of bank it would be drawn from and made sure it was fine. Thank God it was. Then I high-tailed it to my bank and deposited it right away.

I was going to be really generous about letting her take her time to pay me back her portion seeing she has a greater burden to bear than either of her daughters, but I know she's got a tax refund coming along with working as many OT hours as possible. She's planning on buying windows for her home with the tax refund so it's fairly sizable. Given her devil may care attitude towards my generosity it's time I lean on her for what's mine, wouldn't you say?

Yes, yes, yes, I know better than to...........

May 24th, 2007 at 09:45 pm

.......lend money to what is apparently a loser!

For some backround: Took a trip to FL last month with friend and her 2 daughters (19 and 18). Had to put the airfare on my credit card since none of them have one. The friends brother has a home down there so lodging was free for all of us. The deal was that friend would pay me for her ticket while one of the daughters would pay for both girls tickets. Mind you this daughter (19)works full time, lives at home, has no mortgage, rent, utilities, car insurance, or car payments! I never heard from her and finally asked my friend what is the deal with S? Am I ever going to see a check, cash, anything? After still not hearing from her I decide to call her up and get her story. She says the usual - I have it, not to worry, I'll be busy working all week. So I say great, drop it off on your way to work this week.

All week I never received a call. So I call her up today (using a different phone so she doesn't recognize the number). This time I hear fear in her voice, like she was caught. So she gives me the usual I'm running off to work, I'm late. Great! I say. Just drop it off on your way. Can't, she says. Running late, taking the expressway, yada, yada. She goes on to say that she'll give it to her mom since a bunch of us meet every Friday night for dinner and drinks. So I ask her if her mother is working Friday night(tomorrow). She says she doesn't know so I say ask her (I could hear my friend talking in the backround so I knew she was around). I hear friend confirm that no, she is not on the schedule Friday night. Great! I say. Give it to your mom to give to me. Then, just for good measure, I ask to speak to her mom. She gets on the phone and we chat for a bit. Before I let her go I CONFIRM that her daughter will give her the money and I will get it from her tomorrow night. Friend was pleasant but changed the subject much, much, too quickly.

Now, I've been patient, diplomatic, generous in every way possible. But, once my chain is yanked I have a REAL SHORT fuse. Right now I'm running all kinds of scenarios in my head as to what can happen: short pay, no pay, friend doesn't show up cause she had to work after all or decided to go elsewhere for dinner (which she kind of slipped in as a possibility).

I've got to keep my cool so how would any of you handle this? Really, I can't imagine having to ask for my own money back! Don't people have any self-respect?

More about Menards

September 30th, 2006 at 07:21 pm

My previous blog entry had me raving about the terrific free after rebate deals at Menards. This entry is about how easy it is to get even more out of these deals.

First off you will need to get the Menards credit card. It's called the BIG CARD. Why get their card? Two reasons - first, they send you a scratch off certificate (usually worth $2 but it can be more) and second, you will get a certificate worth 2% of your purchases somewhere down the road. I just got my certificate enclosed in my cc statement for $10! Oh, I forgot - with each credit card statement are 2 pages of Menards coupons just for their Big Card customers! There is usually a FREE item amoungst those as well!

The FAR items are free BUT the rebate checks that are sent out are to be used against additional purchases at Menards. In other words, you can't cash these checks at your local bank. Menards wants your business and your money and they've come up with an ingenious way to get both. Doesn't matter. I'll show you why in a bit.

Menards has even made tracking rebates easy. They've set up a site where you can see if your rebate is pending or whether the check was issued. This site lists all your rebates for the past year. Wonderful.

If you're thinking this is too good to be true, well, you're right. Menards does have quantity limits and if you're doing the FAR deals they want you to buy an additional $10 worth of non-rebateable items. So, what do I buy for $10 of non-rebateable items? A Menards $10 gift card! Takes care of everything.

Let's say that you're hooked and on board for all these deals and are swimming in rebate checks, Menards gift cards and Menards reward certificates. Too many to juggle and keep straight. What do you do then? Since I'm somewhat ADD here's what I did - added all the dollar values up, which came to just under $100, went to Menards and grabbed (2) $50 gift cards and bought those cards using the rebate checks, reward certificate and smaller value gift cards plus a couple of bucks out of my pocket!

What am I going to do with my $50 GCs? The most obvious thing would be to keep rolling this sum into FAR deals but then I'd be missing out on the 2% from charging the purchases on the store card. So I'm thinking of offering them as a trade for other store GC's. I understand there is a website for doing just this. Gotta find it.

Menards is the hardware store equivalent to Walgreens health and beauty rebates. Love it!

Menards beats Yardsaling!

September 18th, 2006 at 11:41 pm

A friend and I went yardsaling yesterday. It seems that her town sponsers a town-wide yardsale weekend. Any resident who wants can just set up out on their lawns and folks can walk around buying stuff. Great idea.

She reaches into a box of used socks and says, "oooh, I need socks", and is ready to pay 25 cents each for these skimpy tattered things when I practically jumped all over her and barked "Don't buy those! I can get you new socks for free!" Well then she wanted to know how. (Menards rebates) Of course, she put the used socks back.

As we continue yardsaling she mentions how this year she wants to be prepared for the cold and is looking for window film for her windows and how she hopes someone is selling the kits. Knowing my rebate items like the back of my hand I let her know those are free as well at Menards.

I'm no snob. I don't look down on anyone who goes yardsaling, flea marketing, tag saling, etc. But when there's a retailer like Menards that gives the stuff away I hate to see people spend their money needlessly. Luckily, she and I think alike so she wasn't upset with me.

Other things Menards has for free after rebate are:

Sparkle Window Cleaner
Paint brushes
Window film

Past FAR items:

Gumout cleaners
Set of knives
Plastic step stool
14 ct Tulip bulbs (can't wait till Spring!)

Menards has me hooked!

Procrastinated For Too Long

September 18th, 2006 at 11:11 pm

I'm pretty savvy when it comes to hunting down great certificate of deposit deals. Really, I'm tough to beat. It's just that when they end I can be lazy about closing accounts and moving the money again and again. Of course, in the end, this winds up costing me by not maximizing what I have.

For the longest time now I have had a good chunk of money sitting in a bank at 1% interest! Orginally, the promo was 5% for 5 months. Looks like I fell into the trap that most banks hope depositors like me might fall into. PROCRASTINATION.

Well, funny how people can think alike. In yesterday's paper I spy a bank ad touting a 5% money market account and save the page as a reminder for me to do something about this situation. Then this morning my brother calls me and says, "Hey, don't you have some $$$$ sitting in a account for next to nothing? My bank has a 5% money market. It's in the neighborhood so why don't you go over there?"

So now I really have NO EXCUSE when there are 2 banks to choose from.

It's like the forces of the universe are prodding me along a financial path!

Too Many Rebates!!!!

September 7th, 2006 at 09:34 pm

I am overwhelmed by all the rebates lately. Post cereal rebate, Kellogs products rebate, Ace Labor day rebates, the Menards merry go round of rebates! Linens n Things rebates, Resolve and Spray n Wash try me free rebates!

Heck, I've got so many out there I can't keep them straight! I don't know what's coming or going anymore. To make matters worse, I've been doing multiple rebates! That's what happens when you can use more than one address.

How do you keep your rebates from overwhelming you?

Organic Valley Powdered Milk

August 15th, 2006 at 06:47 pm

One of my goals for 2006 was to incorporate as many organic products in my diet as I could without going broke. I've got the organic coffee down and I'm doing OK on the produce, but the milk and eggs looked like they were going to be the killers.

Then I had a bright idea! Why not call OV and ask if they have powdered milk? After all, they are based in Wisconsin, the dairy state. So that's what I did and here's what I found out:

1) They sell 12 oz. packets. Each packet makes 1 gallon of milk. The packets are sold at Whole Foods and maybe other health food stores or you can buy them from OV for a case of (12) 12 oz. packets @ $60. Final cost=$5/gallon. Can't remember if shipping was included in the case price. Sorry.

2) They sell 25 lb bags for $118 + $40 shipping (to the lower 48 and Hawaii). According to my calculations you will get 33.33 gallons from this bag. Final cost=$4.74/gallon. I included the shipping to come up with the final cost of the milk.

3) They sell 50 lb bags for $165 + $40 shipping. According to my calculations you will get 66.66 gallons from this. Final cost=$3.07/gallon. Again, I included the shipping charge to come up with the final cost.

You can only buy the 25 lb and 50 lb bags from OV directly. I already tried to go through 2 rather large health food stores in my area and both told me their distributors can't get these items. I wasn't going to try Whole Foods so today I called and ordered the 50 lb bag.

Given the increasing cost of gas and my not wanting to run around to the grocery stores any more than I absolutely have to this seems like it's going to work out better. And it's organic!

If anyone else is interested in buying bulk like this you can call Organic Valley @ 888-444-6455 9am-4pm CST.

PS: Don't forget to ask for their coupons while you're at it.

Long Distance - Revisited

August 7th, 2006 at 05:05 pm

I had to look over when I last posted about my long distance plan beef. March. So, since March this has been on my mind.

I'll save you all the the trouble of looking over my previous blog - used to pay about $15/mnth for LD plans. Got it down to $7.40/mnth. Basically, this is what it was costing to NOT make any LD calls!

OK, I have a AT&T credit card for a little over 10 years now. Would you believe that one of the perks for this card was 30 minutes of LD FREE per month! Not only that, 2 FREE directory assistance calls per month! I had completely forgotten that it also served as a calling card. What a fool I've been to have literally thrown away money for nothing! Kudos to AT&T credit for putting this little tidbit on their credit card statement.

Today I called and cancelled all LD service. YAY!

I Had to laugh

July 19th, 2006 at 09:49 pm

We have a couple of caregivers for my mom. One lives with us 24/7 for two weeks and she is relieved every other weekend by the other caregiver.

Well, it's hard not to notice a) my coupons, b) my stockpile, and c) my peals of joy when I come home with bags of stuff that I paid next to nothing.

Let's just say they wanted to know how I did it so I told them.

Yesterday my brother came by to visit and found the caregiver going thru my box of coupon inserts. He says to her "oh no, she's got you doing it too?" She was so excited to tell him that I was able to get her CoffeeMate creamer for 50 cents and that she will be buying tubes of Aquafresh for 25 cents!

This morning the other caregiver calls me to ask if I can put aside a few coupons for her!

I'm happy to help them out. They're wonderful to my mother and I can't help but chuckle at how infectious and fun saving money can be.

Various Grocery Savings

May 1st, 2006 at 11:01 pm

Here is what I've bought in the last few days:

From a major area grocer: Healthy Choice frozen entrees on sale for 1.00/ea combined with an blinkie coupon for 1.00/3. The selection was limited but I bought 15 of these for 10.00 and paid for them with a gift card from a transferred prescription.

From an ethnic grocer: 2 big pineapples for 3.00, 2 cantalopes for .99/ea., 4 packages of blueberries for .99/ea., and a bag of oranges for 1.29. Used (2) "1.00 off 5.00 purchase of produce" winetags. Since this was Saturday, the free spanish language paper was at the door and it had an insert of coupons that are different from the Sunday paper coupon inserts I get delivered to my door. Needless to say I grabbed that paper, too!

At Big Lots: Organic blueberry toaster pastries for .99/package., 6 to a package. Brownberry bread for 1.39 - 1.69 (I didn't make it to the bakery thrift store where I could have spent even less).

Target: Small package of Pepperidge Farm cookies .99/ea. Had printable Target coupons for 1.00 off Pepperidge Farm cookies. Let's just say I bought a WHOLE LOT with coupons and paid less than a buck for bags and bags of them.

Of course there's more, but I can't think right now. Things like mayo, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, coffee, 2 liter soda, and salad dressing have been bought in quantity (or for free with coupons and sales) and are stockpiled.

I wish other aspects of my life were this easy to manage.

Pulled the Trigger

April 25th, 2006 at 07:47 pm

It's done. Finally signed my mom into a Medicare D plan this morning so that she'll be eligible starting May 1 and Medicare won't penalize her later for not taking a plan when it was first offered.

I have to admit I don't like it. Costs will be $2000/yr opposed to what she used to pay ($200/yr) before her employer decided to dump the prescription benefit for their retirees. Gone will be the patient assistance programs since most will not allow anyone with any kind of scrip coverage to benefit.

So what do I like? No more paperwork and running around (see earlier blog entry).

If this isn't the ultimate convenience expense, I don't know what is.

Along the Same Lines.....

April 20th, 2006 at 08:37 pm

While my prior entry had to do with drugs (really, I didn't mean it to) this one has to do with gasoline.

Three weeks ago I was in a distant suburb, one I normally do not travel to, and was stopped by a cop for not having my license plate sticker. He issued me a citation that basically allowed me to keep my license but reappear at the station no more than 3 weeks later with proof of sticker purchase or pay a fine.

Before heading out for the police station I get online and find a Trader Joe's is in the vacinity in addition to another grocer were I happen to have a raincheck for certain items.

So....didn't find anything at TJ's I needed and bought organic cocoa for $4.99 (because I don't have that in my pantry) and organic canned hearts of palm ($1.99). I like variety in my salads.

On to the grocer where I thought I'd use my raincheck for 60 items and found 13 were all I cared for. Plus I bought organic celery ($1.50) and vine tomatoes ($1.25) and organic juices (2 for $4). Except for the raincheck items, I did not have coupons for the rest.

My point here is that had I not had to appear at that police station and waste the gas going out there, I would have never made those purchases at TJ's (really, I didn't need cocoa or hearts of palm) and except for the raincheck items which I could have gotten on another trip, the additional purchase of celery, tomatoes, etc., could have been purchased closer to home for the same money.

My justifying the gas expense for this trip wound up costing me more money.

Winning the Battle but Losing the War?

April 20th, 2006 at 08:06 pm

I don't track money. No spreadsheets or such but I can pretty much tell how I'm doing. If this doesn't make sense think of it as not having to weigh yourself and letting your pants waist dictate how well you're keeping to a certain weight.

That said, despite increases in gasoline, insurance premiums, and having to pay for mom's medications now that she has no prescription coverage, I find the bills are getting paid yet I'm feeling pinched. And when I feel pinched I spend more money! A dangerous and viscious cycle is developing that I have to stop.

The problem appears to be that I'm running in place going nowhere and my brother has picked up on it. These last few days he's been on me to sign up my mom for Medicare D despite the fact that total yearly prescription costs will be higher than not signing her. This may seem counterintuitive but he's sad to see me running around trying to coordinate her meds at the cheapest costs and jumping through all the hoops of various patient assistance programs. Unbeknowest to him, I was secretly thinking the same thing. While the system is navigable it does require a lot of vigilance on the part of the patient (or their advocate, namely me). This gets especially hairy when the patient requires frequent changes in meds and/or numerous meds. I've been fortunate to get my hands on a quantity of prescription offers from various pharmacies in exchange for new business and have used them all but I've also met with sour looks from pharmacy employees in regards to my liberal use of these.

There are also other costs involved that aren't so apparent. Time in having to coordinate with doctors and pharmacies. Honestly, when did it become MY JOB to get the doctor to call the pharmacy back on a refill??? Gas and time in driving to the doctor's office just to get him to write out the new scrip so that I can split pills and get that over to yet another pharmacy to take advantage of a new or transferred scrip offer. Time and energy wasted because the docs receptionist got my request for samples wrong and the doc then feels I'm using him as my own personal pharmacy. Nevermind that he won't take patient emails so that my intentions would have been clear on the first shot!

Then there's the pateint assistance programs. Don't get me wrong, these are wonderful programs that work very well. The problem arises in the cooridination of the reorders (done ONLY through the docs offices and then patient can pick up or have them mailed to the house) and the reapplication process which varies from program to program and of course, involves the doc and his office. If dosages happen to change...more paperwork and time and waiting. If the doc is out of samples while this happens it's off to the pharmacy yet again. More time and gas and, and, and....

It's no wonder I seem like a rat on a treadmill. So what do I do? Spend money to feel good. You see, if I'm out running these scrip errands (or other errands) and gas is going higher and higher it makes all the sense in the world to make multiple stops so that it won't seem like each trip is frivolous. And what would be the point of making that stop if there's nothing to show for it? So I'm shopping. With coupons and sales. Haven't lost a battle yet.

Savings Irony

March 13th, 2006 at 11:59 pm

Today, Meijers had a 5% off grocery if you use their credit card. I happened to be in the area so I went. Checked out the organic coffee (not much to choose from) and bought 2 Newmans Own bags @ $5.63 each. Used my 10% off (first time purchase on my cc) and got the 5% off for the day on top of that! Good, right? Out of the Catalina machine pops a coupon for B1G1 Melitta Harvest coffee AND another coupon for $3 off Melitta Organic coffee! Holy smokes! Didn't even leave the store. Took my cart back to the coffee aisle and grabbed 2 Melitta organic coffees @ $6.63 ea. Let's just say that after I paid, oh, $3.xx for those 2 bags I headed straight for customer service and returned the Newman's Own coffee.

I really, really like Meijers.

Saved money, gas, time, and muscle!

March 12th, 2006 at 09:42 pm

I don't usually buy online but I received an email alert that Sear's has 10% off today so I checked out the site to see about their detergent. It is on sale for 50% off (they do this a few times each year) and I got the 10% off AND they have a rebate for free shipping!

Paid for it with a rebate CC (1%). The only thing I could have done better would have been to use Fatwallet cashback for another 2%. Oh well.

Long Distance

March 9th, 2006 at 07:57 pm

I was meaning to do something about the long distance charges on our phone bill.

After mom first got sick I took over the finances and discovered she was paying a fortune for the phone plans. The local/local toll plan I originally signed up for is still a good one. Something that is not offered today. The cost is about $40/mnth. The long distance plan however just doesn't pan out anymore. I thought we'd be making calls to Canada and finally came to the realization that I don't call anyone unless I absolutely have to! The long distance plan was costing $15.xx/mn without any actual long distance calls. The original intention was to dump it altogether and get One Suite, but old habits die hard. Convience won over and instead I changed over to a cheaper plan. It will be half of what we are now paying for the luxury of getting discount rates on the rare occasion that a long distance call is actually placed.

I just know I'll be revisiting this topic in another couple months or so.

Prescription Savings?

March 8th, 2006 at 06:20 pm

Well, there's the good news and the bad news.

Good news: found another pharmacy with cheaper prices for my dogs' diabetes needs. Meijer pharmacy charges $12.99 for 100 syringes vs. $14.99 and $26.99 vs. $29.99 for the insulin. This means I will save about $90/yr by making this switch.

I did find out something new from the pharmacist: you can buy insulin w/out a scrip! If you use a scrip they will charge $28.97 vs. the no scrip price of $26.99! Now, how much "sense" does that make? The more I look into this prescription drug thing the more disgusted I get!

OK, now the bad news: Remember I became a AAA club member for their prescription card? For some reason (transposition of numbers?) the charge never went through. A call to AAA and questions about drug savings netted me NOTHING. In other words, they could not tell me exactly what kind of savings I could expect to see. Said each pharmacy determines the discount they want to give despite the AAA website claiming a savings of 15%-30%. I next called Costco pharmacy to feel them out and was told the MOST discount Costco would give was 10% on old drugs. Newer (expensive) drugs would get as low as 1% discount since the pharmacy makes a smaller profit. In the end I chose not to become a AAA member. Why pay for membership when there are free drug discount cards on the internet?

Is it me or am I losing my mind???

Trying to get Back into the Swing of Things

February 22nd, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Mom was released from the hospital Saturday and I've been trying to normalize things around the house.

As a result of the stroke, she is on a bunch of new and very expensive medications that had to be filled that day. Her prior prescription insurance ended 12/31/05 and she is not on any Medicare Rx plan. While I was at the hospital I entered her information on Medicare's website and was shocked to find out that the cheapest plan for her would be $2400 out of pocket for the year! AARP plan (the one I would have liked to get her on) was going to be $4000 out of pocket! That's when I started to look into Costco prices and Canadian pharmacies and try to figure out our options. What I've come up with is that some meds are cheaper at Costco and using a AAA card will get an additional discount! Guess what I signed up for? AAA. Some of the other drugs are cheaper thru Canadian pharmacies. For the most expensive drugs, I looked into patient assistance programs. I think I've got one covered but still waiting to hear from a couple of the other doctors about the meds she gets from them. Because these drugs are new and my mom is not yet stabilzed, there will be more adjustments, therefore I still can't comment about the yearly cost yet, but it seems it will be cheaper than going thru Medicare Rx.

In short, others have also decided that Medicare Rx plans are NOT in their best interest if they have not shifted assets to their kids or cashed in their IRA's/401k's before they are ready to sign on. Talking to patients in rehab, it is easier to get a good idea about how real people are going about paying (or not paying) for drugs.

Anyway, she needed drugs the day she came out of the hospital so I went to Target's pharmacy and paid $244 for 7 different prescriptions (I skipped the most expensive since samples are available at the doctor)! Was I HOT. One of the meds should have been dosed higher to allow for pill splitting but I didn't catch it when the doctor handed over the scripts to me. Oh well, live and learn. Stuff like that only adds to my determination to bring the costs down.

The caregiver of 3 years is leaving this Saturday and a new one is taking her place. This time we are going thru an agency and I'm filling out the paperwork for the Home Care policy to start paying on this claim. My bro paid the first caregiver out of his pocket as she was not affiliated with any agency and hence we couldn't use the policy benefits. All the while paying the premiums. I'm not sad to see her go. It was an uneasy situation in the home, but my bro liked her because they shared the same fanatical attitude about a clean home. Appearances mean A LOT to my brother and a spotless home was more important than an attentive caregiver for my mother. Never mind that he doesn't even live with us. This time, things are going to be different! I'm picking the caregiver and if it means going thru 10 of them so be it! Mom will be first and the house second. Having the policy pay will also serve to keep him from thinking he is entitled to have say as to what passes in the home as clean since it's not going to be his money at stake anymore. Unfortunately, he tends to throw money at problems, in turn, causing even more problems.

Saving While at the Hospital

February 4th, 2006 at 10:41 pm

For those of you that don't know, my mom had a stroke on 1/19/06 and I'vee been at the hospital and rehab with her day and night. Thank God hospitals now have internet access for everyone. I think I would have lost my mind by now. It's great to be able to read everyones blogs and the forum. Thanks.

So......while reading the threads at someone posted a 50 cent rate for W,Th,Su Chicago Trib! I thought paying $1/wk was good. Luckily the poster included the operator code (036B) and I was able to switch over to that rate for a year. Saved $26!

My brother brought my car over to the hospital so that I get to my classes Fri nights and Sat mornings. As I was exiting the lot to go to class the attendant wanted $9 for parking. Maybe the way I looked (sleepy and tired) made him ask if I was going to continue staying overnight. I said that I'll be here for at least another 2 weeks. He then told me about a extended parking pass. $25 for 2 weeks! I could come and go as I pleased. What a gem that was. Not only did I get the pass, it also gives me a 15% discount on the cafeteria food! Saw the attendant this morning as I was leaving for class and thanked him profusely. Why don't they advertise this? My brother's FIL was at this same hospital a few years ago and his family had no idea this was offered. They spent a fortune on parking!

Daily spending

January 18th, 2006 at 08:32 pm

Been reading through the other journal entries and noticed I don't say anything about daily spending. Sorry, but I've got the BIG bills on the brain. Even so, I guess I should start.

I eat lunch out almost everyday. $4-$5.
Jewel has Equaline mouthwash on sale, 1L (bonus size is 1.5L) for 99 cents. Had expired $1 off coups soooo got 10 of the bonus sized bottles for 1 cent each. Somewhere in the house I have an entire tearpad of these coups and wouldn't you just know it......can't find the darned thing! Today is the last day of this deal. errrrrrrrrhhhh! I DO have (9) expired 75 cents off coups, but 25 cents (plus tax) is not the same as 1 cent each. Might have to break down and get them anyway. This is the first time Jewel had this size for so cheap and I don't want to shop for mouthwash for a very long, long time.

Also at Jewel, they are clearancing out some expensive perfume. Got Shi for $9.99 and used an expired $1 off any purchase coupon. I have been dying to get this perfume, but couldn't bring myself to spend what it normally goes for. Also bought a small compact of 10 eyeshadows for $2.50. Used a GC for a transferred prescription to pay for these.

Put $10 of gas in the car which didn't even hit the halfway mark on the fuel gauge. Tomorrow I have an interview for a volunteer position at the Chicago Botanical Garden and my guzzler will eat up a lot of the gas. My next car will either be a diesel (Volvo) or a hybrid, I swear it.

Decisions, decisions....

January 15th, 2006 at 09:09 pm

I am procrastinating and it is getting to me. At least that is how it feels. Whenever too many decisions need to be made I tend to get a little stuck and shut down. Not good at all. Been looking into rebate cc's and trying not to get caught up in special offers. That's a tough one since Discover is offering a 5% rebate on health & Wellness till March and right now I owe $550 to a periodontist and will owe over $400 this year for my regular dental. I'd also like to get back to the chiropractor for some adjustments and pay some of my mom's medical deductible amounts left over from last year. It's a great offer, but I don't want to risk all the inquiries on my credit report either considering we need a gas rebate card and grocery rebate card. There's a card that gives back on tuition as well. See, lots to think about.

Mom's long term care insurer just hit us with a notice that her premium will now be over $3000 for the year. They raised it last year and from what I thought I read, they can only do this every few years and not yearly. Will have to check with the insurance commission about this. Funny, I was always told the terms of her long term care contract were written in stone and can never be changed once a claim was made. The insurer is now "offering" to lower the premiums IF we agree to limit my mom's payout. Right now, her payout is unlimited, in terms of years. Something, I am told, they no longer offer to insureds. If I decide to increase her coverage, how do you think they'll respond? Why can it be decreased and not increased? They can change the rules to suit themselves it seems.

Nailing it all down

January 13th, 2006 at 08:29 pm

The auto insurance premium came in yesterday: $314 for 6 months. Just as I suspected, it's still in the same narrow range as my FICO score. Now I can go ahead and apply for some cash back/rebate cc's while I sweat out the next premium renewal.

Last night was the first meeting of the year for "The Women of Wall Street". That's the name of the investment club that I'm thinking of joining. It was held at a suburban library and lasted just under 2 hours. Why is it that administrative duties have to take up sooo much time? Dues had to be paid by the members and amounts finalized and lots of joking, Happy New Year, pictures of the new's a nice group of ladies learning about stocks, but it is slow. I'm not as advanced as they are, but I can catch up without too much of a sweat. Given that they're into their 3rd year I expected a little more sophistication. I have to keep reminding myself this is a educational group and not a business where there are deadlines and consequences for mistakes made. Not easy given my last employer who was a "dragonlady" of a boss. The result being that I am impatient with mistakes since mistakes cost money and I was "not allowed" to make many of them. One member makes her presentation of 2 stocks to the group at each meeting. Last night's presenter filled in her worksheet incorrectly and the other members were trying to tell her were she went wrong. It reminded me of being in college study group for calculus! Same thing! Trust me, these stock worksheets are A LOT EASIER than calc. Especially since the computer does most of the calculating. SHEESH!

Despite all of that I am impressed with the past president of the club. She's an MBA who has her own business. On a whim, I asked if she was women certified and she is! Her biggest account is with the federal gov't. My ex-coworkers and I have formed a corp with the intention of selling to gov't, but we hit a wall. She'd be a great mentor for us.

At the end of the meeting they hit me with the "buy in" amount. I knew the dues were $100/quarterly plus $25 for petty cash and $25 for NAICS (for membership in the organization for these investment clubs). What I didn't know is that I would have to pay for a "share" in the club. Presently, a share is worth $957. Yikes! Got some thinking to do about this one. Luckily, I have until the next meeting in Feb. to mull it over.

Today is looking better

January 7th, 2006 at 05:12 pm

Did a lot of thinking (and self-chastising) about the checking account and how it almost got out of control. So this morning I went straight to the bank and had my mom's IRA 2006 distribution allocated to the checking. Normally, I would put off taking the distribution as long as possible, but this time I had to give ourselves some breathing room. Then I went to our State Farm agent and paid the flood policy with the cc ($656) and discussed the homeowner policy renewal. Right before the gal processed the flood policy payment, she asked, "you didn't have any loss in the last few days did you?" I actually laughed! Can't blame her, though. The payment was lapsed by a week and anything could have happened in that time. She was just being a good agent and looking out for her employer.

The HO renewal went up by $110 for a grand total of $872! As I thought, I had increased the deductible to $1000 last year. The options I was now given was to increase the ded. to $2000, so the new premium would be $782/yr. -OR- further increase it to 1% of the dwelling limit of liability which would equal a $4130 ded. for a premium of $723/yr. I went with the $782/$2000 ded. This is an increase of only $20 from last year. I can live with that.

The thing that bugs me is the policy increase in the first place. We put the home remodeling costs on a MBNA card (16K) @ 5.9% and this has to be the reason. The next thing I'm going to do is find a credit monitoring service and sign up myself and my mother. I hate being unprepared for surprises like this and knowing just where we fall credit wise will help determine my course of action rather than reaction.

I hate January

January 6th, 2006 at 08:54 pm

I hate January.

Used to be I hated October and then I hated December, but now it's definately January. You can't help but hate the month that causes the most financial hardship. Here I thought I had everything under control and we get hit with a Dec (for Nov) gas bill of $466 (estimated) and then the Jan bill (for Dec) arrived and it's $777 (actual)! I was floored. Even being on a budget billing the amount taken out now is $425. Couldn't help but think how high it could have gotten had we not changed all the glass block windows and added the air conditioning covers outside. Those two places would loose the most heat! Had to have a chat with one of my tenants. Seems he has to have fresh air and would leave the windows open. I even showed him the bills and begged him to keep them closed. He's a nice guy, so we'll see.

All of this has really wrecked havoc on the checking account since it's pretty much been set up to just make ends meet. Looks like I've got to sit down and make some adjustments like looking into bill pay instead of directly having bills paid from the checking and getting some heavy duty rebate credit cards. Advanta is for business, but people use it to pay their own utilities and insurance premiums. Hey, why give away 5% when you can get it credited back to you for things you have to pay for anyway.

The gas was only the beginning. Flood insurance came due end of Dec and that's a bill that has to be paid in full so I waited till Jan thinking there would be enough to cover it. That one is going to go on a cc to buy me another month. $776.

Paid the umbrella policy in Dec on a cc: $236.

Homeowners bill came in: $843, but SF will give a discount if we up the deductible even more. Heck, I upped the deductible last year! This bill along with the car insurance is spread out over the course of the year.

Car insurance is due to come in later this month. I'm worried since I know the premiums are tied in to Fico scores which is why I've been careful NOT to apply for any new cc's. The HO premium went up, but that one is tied to my mom's FICO score (don't know what hers is) while mine has remained steady for a year. Still, I'm biting my nails worrying about what the new payment will be. It's ungodly that FICO scores play a part in insurance premiums. Unless, of course, you know how to work them to your advantage.

We have Dish Satelite. If you pre-pay the year they knock off a months payment. Last year we were in a good position so we did this last Jan. The bill this year would have been $397 to be deducted Jan 15. Had to call in and go back to monthly billing, at least untill things even out better in the checking account.

I guess I'm angry with myself for getting caught with my pants down. The past years I did extremely well with the budget and I must have gotten too complacent while expenses went up. That and maybe being a little greedy. 2005-early 2006 had some consistent 5%-5.12% CD deals that I took advantage of and funneled most of the available cash there. The good news is that the interest will allow for a good cushion when the CD's mature (end of Jan and early Feb), but untill then I have to sit tight while I redo the years' budget.

I hate January.

2006 Goals

December 30th, 2005 at 07:24 pm

Hi all! Glad to be adding my entries since I've enjoyed reading most of yours!

It never fails that at the end of each year I come up with new dragons to slay for the next year. The groundwork gets laid at this time so that the goals are up and running, at the latest, by the first of the year.

In 2004 it was credit repair.
In 2005 it was couponing and budgeting.
For 2006 it's going to be investments and an emphasis on organic living. (As well as the $20 challenge)

So here's how I'm going to do it: For the investments, I've already commited myself to an investment club I found through a bank. This is exciting since I've been on the hunt for one for at least 3 years! The president of this club has an MBA and insists that every member do research and make presentations to the group. No slackers! The first meeting of the year is on Jan 12 at a public library. Can't wait!

Organic living - Been wanting to do this for some time and finally got around to actually looking at the organic produce at my local grocers as well as Whole Foods. Needless to say, they ask for BIG BUCKS! Some items are marked close to what the non-organic sells for so I would buy that, but it was not enough for a sustainable organic diet week to week. Plus, I'd go broke that way. So I did some googling and came up with which has a state by state offering of organic grocers and CSA's. One of the grocers puts together boxes of fruit, veggies or a combo for $15! I picked the veggie box and have already prepaid the week. Will be picking up my first box on Wed. The CSA angle is a nice idea although much pricier. If I can get a garden up and running that would be the absolute best way to go. Nothing beats fresh and locally grown!

Something else that I've found is that Big Lots also has some organic non perishables for verry cheap! Muir Glen canned tomatoes for 49 cents. ShariAnn's organic veggie broth for 39 cents. I cleared out their shelves!

While the previous year goals were met, they are ongoing so from time to time I will be saying something about those as well.

Happy New Year to everybody and good luck with all your goals!