Monday, October 25, 2010

Mini 'Sharing My Frugality' Update!

I just thought that I would let everyone know about my Target shopping trip from yesterday. I love sharing my 'deals' and hope that someone else can benefit from them.

First of all, I was super excited because we needed shampoo, and I needed some hairspray and hair mousse. I was expecting to spend at least $12 for all 3 things because I didn't have any coupons and I didn't see any of these products on clearance. Then I stumbled upon a great display of Herbal Essences products. They had the huge bottle of shampoo (that are normally $5.04) coupled with a full size hair product (that are usually $2.99) for the low price of $5.42! I love this! The giant bottles of shampoo are double the volume of the smaller so it's a great savings since the normal size ones are $2.99. I was able to find a huge shampoo coupled with a hairspray and then another huge shampoo coupled with a hair mousse. So I spent $10.84 and basically got all of this: 1 hairspray ($2.99), 1 hair mousse (($2.99), the equivalent of more than 4 bottles of shampoo (normally each $2.99, so that's a total of $11.96). All of this should have cost me, $17.94, but it only cost me $10.84. That's a savings of $7.10 (nearly 40%) just for buying it all at once instead of separately!

My other awesome deal was with those, 'buy this and that and receive a $5 gift card.' I really hit the jackpot with these yesterday.

They had cat litter on sale. Usually I spend $12.19 for a huge container of Tidy Cats. They had Tidy Cats on sale for $10.99, plus if I bought 2 I received a $5 gift card. It should have cost me, $24.38, but between the sale and factoring in the discount for the $5 gift card it's like I only paid, $16.98. That's a savings of $7.40 or approximately more than 30%.

Next they had cat food on sale as well. I usually pay $11.99 for a 16lb bag of Purina Cat Chow. They had it on sale for $10.99 and if I bought 2 I got a $5 gift card. It should have cost me, $23.98, but between the sale and factoring in the discount for the $5 gift card it's like I only paid, $16.98. That's a savings of $7 or about 30%.

Next they had my Always on sale. I usually spend $6.99 on one package. They had them on sale for $6.89 and if I bought 2 I received a $5 gift card. It should have cost me, $13.98, but between the sale and factoring in the discount for the $5 gift card it's like I only paid, $8.78. That's a savings of $5.20 or about 37%.

Last but not least, I needed body wash. I usually buy whatever body wash is cheapest. I don't like to pay more than 16 cents an ounce (and normally 16 cents an ounce is what I end up paying). So that means I usually end up buying Suave unless I have a coupon. They had Dial body wash on sale. Normally the Dial body wash is $4.29 a bottle. They had it on sale for $3.99 and if I purchased 3 I would receive a $5 gift card. I picked out two 21 ounce bottles and one 24 ounce bottle. Before the savings it should have cost $12.87, but between the sale and factoring in the discount for the $5 gift card it's like I only paid, $6.97. That's a savings of $5.90 or about 46%. Plus it breaks down to 10 cents an ounce!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sharing My Frugality

With how tight money is for so many people, I thought I would try and share some of my money saving tips.

First of all, we don't have cable in the Aberlich household. We never have, and probably never will. We watch too much tv as it is with the few free channels we get. So, we definitely do not need extra channels.

If you can get by without internet there's a big savings too. We have spent more of our married life without internet than with. We currently have it but we started having it on a regular basis as a way to stay in contact with Jeremiah and his commanders after he enlisted. Comcast and WOW! charge WAY too much for internet. My suggestion is to check into AT&T. Yes, our internet isn't the fastest speed in the world, but it is more than fast enough for Facebook, blogging, email, and all the minutia we use it for. The best part about AT&T is the price. We only pay $19.95 a month for our wireless DSL. And for those wondering, no, it is not an introductory price. But honestly, if you can get by without it, save the money. But, if you really need it (which is kind of how I feel now) than go the cheapest route. It's all the same internet. So, why pay more to access it?

Keep in mind these tips are for those really trying to cut costs. If you have the money for all these extravagances then YAY! for you, but we really don't. And we are so accustomed to trying to cut costs I don't know how much these things would change even if we did have the extra money.

Another service we don't use is Netflix or Blockbuster online. That's not to say we haven't tried free memberships, but we honestly don't use it enough to even justify the cheapest plans they offer. My suggestion for renting movies is the local library, Family Video, or the Redbox. If you can find it at the library it's usually free as long as you return it on time. Family Video is far cheaper than Blockbuster, and if you are going during the week they have a rent a new release get an older movie free. Plus, Family Video offers free children's movies. The Redbox is good because they allow you to get new releases for a buck. That sure beats Blockbusters over $5 new release rentals. And if you spend money on video game rentals, keep in mind some libraries also loan video games for no cost. I know for a fact that ours does.

This next one isn't for everyone. I am blessed to be able to stay home full time. Since Joseph isn't in school we are fortunate enough to get by using one vehicle. That means a savings of a car payment, car maintenance, and car insurance. I usually run my errands in the evening or on my husband's days off. It takes some getting used to and every once in a while a little juggling, but this has really saved us a lot of money. Some people just assume we can't afford to have two vehicles, but honestly it was a choice we spent a lot of time thinking about and it's worked out pretty well for us. Now, that will change when Jeremiah leaves for his next training because he'll be taking one of our vehicles (yes, we have two even though we only use one) to Georgia with him. So, of course we will have both vehicles on the road (one in Michigan and one in Georgia). But, that will more than likely only be temporary while he completes his next phase of training.

Kudos to you if you use cloth diapers! Cloth diapers just aren't for me. I know they offer an amazing amount of savings, but since we live in an apartment I don't have a washer and dryer at my beck and call. In addition to that, I really like the convenience of the disposable diaper. So, for those of you who use disposable diapers I have found (through trial, error, and leaks) that the cheapest brand you can count on is Luvs. I've tried multiple store brands, and also Pampers and Huggies. And it's my opinion that Luvs provides the least amount of leaks. So many store brands I tried just leaked like crazy. Don't get me wrong, Pampers and Huggies are great too, but I believe Luvs are just as good and they're half (at least) of the price. The only store brand diaper I was ever impressed with was Kirkland brand. I'm not sure if that's Sam's Club or Costco. Someone had given them to us. So, I don't really know the cost ratio on them. But, after using Huggies and then using Kirkland, I am completely covinced that Huggies makes Kirkland. Yes, there's a Kangaroo instead of Mickey Mouse, but seriously it looks, feels, smells, and is made the same way. So, I'm certain Huggies dispenses these under the Kirkland name.

Anyways, back to the Luvs. I've recently found the cheapest way to purchase diapers is through Amazon. They offer the big three (Pampers, Luvs, and Huggies). If you set up to have them delivered automatically (and you can change the frequency of the deliveries all the time) and sign up for their free Mom's Club, you will save 30% off of their price for diapers. I believe their diapers are approximately the same price as buying them in a retail store. So, imagine getting your diapers for 30% off retail. Oh, and don't worry about shipping. If you sign up for the Mom's Club and the automatic delivery there is no shipping cost. Also keep your eyes out in your email and also when you're flipping through your magazines. Amazon is constantly sending me coupons for 10-20% off my diapers. And yes you can use those coupons on top of your already 30% of savings. I just ordered a box a few days ago and got 60% off. Plus, (at least for Luvs) Amazon carries a box with more diapers than I can purchase at the store.

As far as wipes go, I still purchase them in the store. After using multiple brands, scents, and thicknesses, I've found my favorite wipes are Target store brand wipes. They are much cheaper than the big names and work just as well. I think they may even be a little softer than the Pampers and Huggies.

In the Aberlich house we have "dumb" phones. Our phones cannot connect to the internet or do anything fancy. Our phones can make calls and text which is really all we need. I don't want to pay for internet on my phone when I already have internet at home. This means that our phone bill (which is for 2 cellphones) ranges from $67-71 a month. I know people that spend more than that on one phone every month.

I also save a lot of money on grocery shopping. When we were first married I would go "major" grocery shopping and spend several hundred dollars every few weeks. I don't do that anymore. What I do is this: At the beginning of each week I look at the ad for the grocery store and get an idea of what's on sale. Then I take an index card and write down the days of the week and what meals I want to have on each day. (Be sure to have a least one day in there for your leftovers). I take into account what I already have in the house and then I go through each meal and write down only what I will need to still get to complete that meal. Then I make my shopping list for what I will need for that week. I find this helps me to not overspend and also not get food that winds up going bad. So, yes I go shopping every week but I'm seriously saving more than 1/2 of what I used to spend on groceries.

I'm an avid Target shopper. I always have been and always will be. The only problem I've had with Target is that they are notorious for their items ringing up incorrectly at checkout. If it's on sale just be sure to make them change the price. If the item is not on sale but is marked for let's say, $1.99 and it rings up for $2.49 be sure to go to the customer service desk after checkout and ask for the Michigan Scan Law. In Michigan if this happens they have to credit you back the difference to the original price (so they give you your 50 cents back) then they have to give you 10 times the difference (in this case 50 cents) up to $5. So, in this case 50 cents times ten is $5. So, you paid $2.49 for the product but they have to give you $5.50 back (50 cents for the difference and then the $5 scan law). Which if you give this any thought means you just got paid $3.01 to take that product home with you. Like I said Target is notorious for this, so just keep your eyes open during checkout.

Target's clearance is also awesome. Some places clearance things out that are damaged, but that's not how Target's clearance works. There is nothing wrong with the products they are discounting. It usually means that product is discontinued, or they just got a new version (one with newer packaging). You can get awesome deals on shampoo, baby products, pet products, etc. Just be sure to check the end caps when you go. I don't mind paying 75% less for my shampoo just because the bottle is a little bit different than the new one. Seriously, check it out.

Another one of my favorite things from Target is there 'buy this and that and get a $5 gift card'. I've seen them do this on diapers, wipes, formula, paper towel, shampoos (large bottles), toilet paper, cat litter and cat food. Let me give you an example, the other day they had these packages of my shave gel. I usually pay $1.97 for one bottle of my shave gel. They had a package with 3 of my shave gels (same size, brand, scent) for $5 (buying those 3 bottles seperately would have cost $5.91). If I bought 3 of these packages (a total of 9 shave gels) they would give you a $5 gift card. It worked out to nearly an $8 savings compared to if I had bought them one at a time. So, of course I got them to save my $8, and now I won't need shave gel for a long time. This can really work out to your advantage. Just keep your eyes open and be willing to stock up to save some major money.

My last piece of advice is to get a credit card that offers cash back rewards without an annual fee. The one I use is a Chase Freedom Mastercard. If you are consistent and careful you can use the card for all of your purchases, pay off the balance when you get the bill (so, no interest) and then reap the benefits of cash back. Our card gives us 5% on most things. Which if I use it for groceries, gas, necessities works out to a $20 reward check every couple of months. What I do to be sure I have enough money to pay the balance when the bill comes is this: Say I go to Target and spent 43.97 on some necessities (TP, shampoo, wipes, cat food, etc.) even though I didn't use my debit card, I write it in my checkbook register -- Pay to Mastercard (Target) debit $43.97. So, I've already allotted for that money so I'll be sure I have it to pay the bill when it comes. So I just do that with all the purchases and then send in check to pay the full bill when it comes.

Last but not least, if you feel like you couldn't keep up with my last bit of advice, at least choose a debit card that provides benefits. Most banks offer at least one debit card with rewards for free (they offer tons with an annual fee too). Add the rewards to your card, you might as well be earning something for spending your money.

I hope that my advice can help your family save some money!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Minutia of October

I noticed it's been nearly two weeks since I blogged. I don't really have a specific topic in mind so I guess we'll just see where this goes.

We went to a friend's wedding a couple of weeks back. It was nice to see some people we haven't seen in a while. I got a little tipsy trying to keep up with a girl that weighs less than 1/2 of what I do. She won.

It was a beautiful ceremony and reception. They were blessed with a 70 degree plus day for an outside wedding in October on the water. It was amazing. Probably the best wedding we've ever been to.

A couple days before the event we went to a BBQ with some of the same friends from the wedding. Joseph attended the BBQ with us. It was really cool to see JJ introducing his son to so many people he went to school with. He was so happy and proud to show off this little person he helped create.

It was really awesome for me to get compliments on Joseph. So many people seemed to love him. I loved having the chance to revel in his awesomeness to people who had never met him before. I even had someone come up and tell me he was the cutest baby/toddler they had every seen.

But other than the wedding not a whole lot has gone on in the Aberlich household. Jeremiah's still trying to find full-time work, I'm still trying to pinch pennies and stretch us to the next paycheck, and Joseph is, well, awesome as usual.

Oh, my Dad did have back surgery last week. He has since been released from the hospital. It will be a several month long recovery, but he's doing as well as can be expected. For those who pray, please keep his recovery in your prayers.

Hmmm... What else?

We did take Joseph to Greenfield Village/Henry Ford Museum to see the trains. Thank God for the gift of memberships to museums. There's no way we would have been able to afford to take him right now otherwise. Joseph loved it. His eyes literally lit up. That child has never been more excited about anything. It was an awesome thing for Mommy and Daddy to experience with him. He's such a special kid.

I got to go to a Right to Life benefit dinner with my Mother - In - Law last week too. It was nice to spend some quality time with her. It was at the Sterling Inn. The food was pretty good. The speaker was the man who had taken the picture of the baby reaching out of his mother's womb while the doctor was performing in utero surgery to correct spina bifida. I'm sure a lot of you have seen this picture. But if you haven't please check it out. Here's the link: http://www.michaelclancy.com/ It's an amazing photo. I had a nice time at the dinner. But overall I do think it's sad that there even has to be a benefit dinner to help stop the killing of innocent children. It's ridiculous that abortion is an acceptable thing in today's society. I am happy to do whatever I can to help protect these young children and give them the rights that all human beings deserve to have.

As someone who is actively trying to add to our family it absolutely disgusts me that women everyday all over the world are killing their unborn children. I would like nothing more than to be carrying a child in my womb, and some women are purposefully killing them. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Moving on..

I would just like to say that I think at some point people need to put childish things away and stop lying. You can't always lie about things because you are afraid of how people will react to them. There is a couple different ongoing situations with people in our lives who are actively lying while trying to hide things. All I can say is that we aren't that naive, and eventually bridges will be burned. Stand up people. Be adults. At some point or another it's time to drop the pretenses and just tell the truth. I'm so tired of two-sided conflicting stories. I mean at least if you want to lie about something ongoing in your life perhaps you should make sure everyone has their stories straight.

Friday, October 8, 2010

To My Blog Readers

I just wanted to write a little note to say thanks to everyone who checks out, comments on, and shares my blog. I'm glad that I write things that interest you and that you're curious about.

I'm writing this to commemorate over 500 hits on this blog. I reached that number back a couple of entries ago, but just haven't had a chance to write about it.

It's really exciting to know that my blog has been read that many times. It's awesome to see that people are interested in what I have to say. I know 500 is not a lot to some people, but to me, it seems huge!

So, thanks again for everyone that checks out my blog. I'll keep writing, so please keep reading.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alleviating Some Anxiety

I'm not really sure why, but right now I have a lot of anxiety. I think it's from a build up of emotions and feelings from the last few days. It's not even one thing in particular that's set it off. It's a culmination of a lot of different things. Let's see if I can jot some of this down, get it off my brain, and relieve some of this pressure from my chest.

First of all, we have a special event coming up this month. It's a special day for someone Jeremiah went to school with. It's something we've been looking forward to ever since we received details of the event. I, however, have reservations about going. The person who ended a friendship with me over this summer will more than likely be there. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in crossing paths with this person. Part of me would like to just sit this event out, especially considering that this person is more JJ's friend that mine, but I know JJ really wants me to go. I have no interest in any drama or any nonsense detracting from this couple's special day. I hope I'm wrong, but I have a feeling that is going to happen. I am an overly sensitive person, and I am not wanting anymore drama in my life than what is absolutely necessary. I've done my best to eliminate as much as I can, and I do not want to purposefully bring it upon myself. I just don't want to agonize over this situation anymore.

Next topic..

I wish I could do more for my sister. She is so amazing and I'm so proud of her. I wish JJ and I have more resources to help make her life easier and less stressful. She's an amazing young woman and is going to make a fabulous doctor one day. I just wish I could do more for her. She's awesome and deserves so much more than she gets.

..And continuing..

I'm a little overwhelmed about our finances. I know we've been in tough spots before. I just hate when you put everything down on paper and you can't even imagine how it's all going to work out. I know everything will. God has not ever let us down. I need to have more faith. I need to trust more. It's just so hard sometimes not knowing how things will work out.

I believe I'm a pretty frugal person. I've done my best to cut our finances down to the bare minimum. I click coupons. I shop for things when they're on sale. I am doing my best to pinch pennies and stretch our meager means. We don't live extravagantly. I know this is only a tough spot on the road of life and things will get smoother once again. It's just so hard being in such a vulnerable position. I know God knows our needs and will take care of us.

This subject is a little tougher..

It just sucks finding out that people who you think you really know are not even close to who you thought they were.

Moving along..

I must say in all certainty that I have no mercy for people who are unfaithful to their spouse. I am talking about inappropriate emotional and/or physical relationships. I think it's a selfish, cowardly, low down thing to do. I think it shows total disrespect for everyone involved, and magnifies the "cheater's" own self centered, egotistical delusions about themselves. Here's the simple truth: If you love someone and you find that you are no longer satisfied with them and the "grass is looking greener on the other side," address it with the person you are committed to. If nothing can be done to make the relationship you are in a happier more satisfying place to be, then end it. Be an adult and show some respect. Don't drag other people through your sleazy, selfish garbage. And here's a indicator for you, if at anytime you have to lie, cover up, withhold details from your spouse about another person, more than likely that person shouldn't even be in your life. You cannot carry on a successful relationship with someone who constantly has their hand in someone else's cookie jar.

..(sigh)..

If you are in a relationship with someone you care about, that person should never ask, expect, or desire you to lie or withhold the truth about your relationship. Anyone that asks you to hide your love or relationship is not ready to be in a relationship and probably does not care for you in the slightest. Only half of that couple will ever be happy or satisfied, and I can promise you it isn't the person who wants to share their relationship with the world.

Next..

I must admit that I am a little nervous and apprehensive for JJ's next bit of training. It will be 16 weeks which is the longest training stint so far. I'm looking forward to him completing it and it hopefully helping him find a stable, full time, long term career, but I'm not looking forward to the separation. But as the song goes, "you can't really smile until you've shed some tears." So, we'll do it. We'll make it through. I'm just not looking forward to it. As it still stands he may be leaving in December but that isn't 100% for sure yet. If not in December then more than likely January.

Last but certainly not least..

As much as I want it, and as much as I'm looking forward to it, I am really nervous to be pregnant again. No, this isn't my pregnancy announcement. I'm just looking ahead.

I had such a difficult time carrying Joseph. I just hope that God blesses us with a little bit smoother, healthier pregnancy. I think stress really played a big part in everything going so badly with Joseph. I am doing my best to deal with my stress better (blogging seems to help), and I won't be working and spending so much time on my feet. So, I think it'll be better. I really hope so.

Well, I am feeling a little better. I think I may be able to actually get some sleep now.