Combining Apps and Gift Cards to Save

We have all heard that in order to get the best deal, you have to combine sales and coupons. I want to first say that this is not always the case but after that I am going to talk about an awesome deal that I got at Walmart.
First is that sales and coupons usually do save you money. However, you must be careful that you know your prices and that you check things out. We ran out of toilet paper last week since I could not find a decent deal on one of the couple of brands that we choose to use. I found a couple of $1.00 off coupons and headed to Walmart. The store of course was out of the product that I could use the coupon on.  I decided to do some checking. I was able to find Scott’s Extra soft for thirty-three cents a roll. This is a great deal and the same price I normally pay with coupons and sale. Lesson learned check your prices!

Now to explain how I got paid to shop at Walmart.  I cashed in my Mplaces for a $25 Walmart gift card. Since we are out of toilet paper, I decided to use it so as not to spend money from the budget. Our Walmart is in a shopping center, within 5 minutes of entering the area, Matt and I both completed our 25 daily check ins for Mplaces including a 100 point check in at Cricket. Next I have started using a new app called “Shop Kicks” I am sure this will be a slow money marker as I avoid shopping but I am going to scan items and complete only when I am shopping for other things so hopefully an extra $5 a month. I earned $2.50 with this trip so a really good start. With my $25 gift card I purchased 5 2 liter soda for the kids, 1 2 liter for me, 3 12 packs of Dr Pepper/ Diet Dr Pepper and 30 rolls of toilet paper. I ended up paying $2.71 after the gift card.  Next I came home and submitted an offer on Swagbucks which gave me a $5 Walmart gift card back and 200 or $2 in swagbucks. So this trip was a $7 money making trip for me and we now have toilet paper for at least a month. The Swagbucks deal is purchase $10 in Diet Dr Pepper or Dr Pepper products in one trip and earn $5 E-gift card and 200 swagbucks.  I am hopefully to make it back to Walmart and do this deal at least one additional if not two more time before the end of February. Are you going to join me?

Monday Menu Post -02/20/2017

Crazy busy and what appears to be normal, yes that describes my life these day. This week we add to the normal chaos with me attending a continuing education class on Saturday and Matt work both Friday night and Saturday night.

Breakfast–   Saturday-Biscuits and Gravy. Sunday-Waffles Monday-choices Tuesday-  Choices Wednesday- Baked oatmeal. Thursday-  Scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits.   Friday- Choices.  Choices include :  baked oatmeal,  eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have sandwiches, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week. Nothing new or exciting here. Except the fact it keeps us from spending money on lunch.

Dinner-  Saturday Fajitas using left over steak and chicken. Dinner- Chicken and Broccoli casserole
Sunday- Lunch- Chicken pie at Mom’s   Dinner- Cheeseburger pizza
Monday- Salisbury steak rice, carrots
Tuesday- Cheeseburger pie
Wednesday-  Sloppy joes
Thursday-  Beef and broccli
Friday- spaghetti or pizza

5 Things Friday

5thingsfriday-logoRED

  1. This week has been a real struggle for me both physical and mentally. I am exhausted but can’t sleep.
  2. I filed our tax returns last week and are expected to see the refund in the next week. I am grateful to have this process behind me this year and thankful to be able to pay off some of our debt as well.
  3. Lily has a cheer competition on Saturday but otherwise I am planning to enjoy a not so hectic weekend.
  4. The weather is very mild and we spent a lot of time last weekend working outside, in fact the square foot garden is prepared except for adding a layer of wood to make some extra soil base.
  5. The cow we purchase in December is some of the best meat, I have ever eaten. We enjoyed T-bone steaks for Valentine’s Day dinner and they were so tender we could almost cut with a fork.

Menu Planning- Valentine’s Week

As hard as I try not to think it and dare not speak it, my life continues, I know that I will continue to mourn and miss my dad forever but time does not stand still so I keep praying and stepping out in faith. We have our typical busy week going on with four evening of multiple activities this week and most likely a cheer competition on Saturday.  Menu planning is the only way we can function.

Breakfast–   Saturday-French toast. Sunday- Cereal for kids and baked oatmeal for me. Monday-Baked oatmeal for everyone Tuesday-  Choices Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits.   Friday- Choices.  Choices include :  baked oatmeal,  eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week. Zach has decided he wants to purchase lunch at school this week, he will be using his own money as well. We did limit it to one time per week.

Dinner-  Saturday- lunch chicken wings, fried pickle chips and cheese sticks. Dinner- Grilled chicken
Sunday- Lunch- Panda Panda  (local Chinese place)  Dinner- choice of left-overs
Monday- Rice Creole
Tuesday-Steak and baked sweet potato
Wednesday-  Roast in crock pot
Thursday- Corn dogs (Sonic has for $0.50)
Friday- Spinach Ravioli .

 

Do you have your plans made?

Saving on Sunday 02/12/2017

My mother had me purchase a paper for her yesterday. Since our small town does not have a Sunday paper, sometimes coupon inserts are in the papers in the rank. Coupon inserts are not guaranteed so it truly is a hit or miss game. I felt like I hit the jackpot yesterday when her paper contain 3 inserts. They were of course the same three insert but at least there were three. I have a Sunday paper delivered to my house from the larger town that is 45 minutes away.

CVS has an awesome sale on Mitchum deodorant this week. It is on sale for $3.99 and there is a coupon for $2 in the inserts today. I scored BIG with finding four coupons in the inserts I have.  The other sale that I was hoping for was Irish Spring Body Wash. They are currently on sale for $3.99 with a $1 off coupon in this weeks paper and 2ECB for each one purchased. I lucked out again and found 4 body wash coupons.

I split my purchases up into 3 transactions which looked like this:

#1 2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 of coupons and 3ECB from a previous purchase.   Total spent $3.54 with 4 ECB received and a coupon for $2 off $6 purchase of body wash.

#2  2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 off coupons, coupon for $2 off $ and 4 ECB from first transaction. Total spent $.42

#3 4 Mitchum deodorants- used 4 $2 off each coupons and 4 ECB from previous transaction. Total spent $.84

Total spent : $4.80- which I placed on a gift card received from Swagbucks so in reality $0 out of pocket.
Total Saved $35 or 88%

 

 

Death is Expensive

So if you think this post is inappropriate or it offends you. Stop reading and come back next week.

My father’s death was sudden and unexpected. We had started as a family discussing final arrangement  but that discussion was very limited. I have learned some very important facts along with financial implication that I am going to share in hopes that it will help someone else.

Death is expensive.

Funeral arrangements, which included the casket and vault were $10,000. This is really a low figure, when you consider what could have been spent.

We were able to purchase burial plots for both my parents for $1500 a piece.  These are located at a church and we needed to purchase both to ensure that my mother can be buried next to my father which is a strong desire of hers.

Grave Marker totaled $930. I am going to state up front this really really really low. We decided to contact a local monument business just to check prices. This price is less than half of what we were originally told to budget.

On Tuesday of this week, my mother and I contact the Clerk of Court office in order to begin working on settling the estate. My parents did have a will already in place. I learned several things that eventually help significantly reduce the overall cost we incurred. First, in North Carolina regardless of what is stated in the will , a spouse is entitled to the first 30 thousand dollars ($30,00) of assets.  In the case of my father, this worked in our benefit because the only assets that were solely in his name totaled less than this amount. We ended up paying $17 fee for filing his will and getting paperwork that allows my mother to cash and spend any checks received in just his name for the next 5 years up to the threshold of $30,000.  We also learned that we do not need to have the house deed transferred to just my mother’s name. The typically cost for this is $700 but is unnecessary.  Because my father’s assets did not reach the $30,000 mark we do not have to place the will in probate. The estate is actually considered settled at this point. The filing fee for placing a will in probate in NC is $220. Finally, we learned that in the case of death, even a spouse is not obligated for debits that are solely in the deceased name, even if in the case of a credit card, which has an authorized user. This user is not responsible for the debt.

I have also learned that each state is different in terms of will and estates. I hope this information is used in the spirt it was given to assist and prepare other family for the most life altering events I have ever experienced.

Emotions

Sad                                                        Exhausted
Frustrated
Sad                                                            Tired
Upset
Unbearable                                              Peaceful                      Exhausted
Strange
Sad                                                               Quiet

Relieved                                Sad
Exhausted

Last Friday morning the unthinkable happened, my father had a massive heart attack and passed away. This was totally unexpected and unacceptable. We are all struggling to make sense of this. Today is Tuesday, I know that I can’t change what has happened and things are being to make at least a little sense. We have accepted that we are not going to be fully functioning for a long time. We also have realized the need to love and support each other. Today, my mother is able to live alone and thanks to God’s provision which is nothing short of a miracle, she is financially able to continue with a “normal” life. I am fortunate enough to have two additional days out of work. I will return to work on Friday, never returning to normal.  I miss my dad, I miss the time he should have spent with his grandkids. I am sad for myself and my mother.  As you can probably tell my emotions are all over the place but above all I am EXHAUSTED. I am not sure when or how much I will blog over the next weeks or months. I am certain we need to continue to work toward a more steady financial place but not sure what that place will look like. Random words on a page, seems to fit my life right now.

January in Review- The Numbers

January ended up being a good start to 2017 overall. I know that I can do better at some things but hey at least there is effort.  Here is a look at some of the numbers

Debit Reduction: $115 (this is an overall number which makes more sense to me. This is the amount that we reduced our overall debit not including our van or mortgage.
Blog Post: 13
Days on Treadmill: 2  (I personally think I should get credit for one more day of walking around the Natural Science Museum in Raleigh).
Low Spend Challenge: We did very well with this. We did not eat out except for our time in Raleigh for the Cheer competition. I had purchased gift cards to use for these meals and spent an additional $20! This is a major accomplishment.
Eat out of Pantry Challenge: $162 spent of Groceries. My initial goal was $100 but this is  a huge accomplishment/success especially when it includes the purchase of 40 pounds of chicken breast. I know that our spending in February will be much higher due to the need to purchase some basic supplies in addition to our “junk food Sunday”.  I will set the goal to spend less than $500 for the entire month.
Gas: $260 spent.
Earnings:  Matt and I combined for a total of $200 this month from our apps and Swagbucks. This is less than December but after doing some investigation this is a steady amount to work toward.

January was overall  a good month. I did not accomplish everything but progress is achieved no matter how small or how long it takes.

February promises to be a very busy month with 2-3 cheer competitions, church and work commitments. My goal will be to file our taxes prior to the end of the month!