Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I Bought A Roku

Our new TV is designed to use the Roku Streaming Stick.  The stick goes into a designated HDMI slot and uses a power cord.  I love this idea rather than having a separate device sitting out next to the TV.  It is also concealed from sight.

I have friends that use and love their Roku devices and heartily recommend them.  I like that we get to stream to our TV which frees up my laptop to use on other things while the family watches television.  You can purchase programming but it also has a lot of free viewing options.  We can easily use our Amazon Prime membership with it and I plan to add Netflix in a month or two which will also stream through it.

As much as I loved our satellite subscription I am just not willing to pay $60 a month for basic service like I was before.  Over a year's time it adds up to $720 which would more than pay for the new TV, Roku and my Amazon Prime membership plus a Netflix subscription and a simple DVD player with money left over.  I just can't justify the expense of it.

I currently pay $99 a year for our Amazon Prime membership.  Netflix will run $7.99 a month plus tax.  Much more affordable than a cable or satellite subscription and far less than a trip to the movie theatre.  That I can live with. 

Do you have a Roku?  Netflix?  How do you save money on TV entertainment?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stocking Up The Larder

Stocking up a pantry and freezer from scratch can be a pricey proposition.  One of the areas I have always been able to control spending is with groceries.  Even with prices on the rise I am determined to fill our cupboards on a budget.  A big part of doing that is to seek out bargains and stock up when I find them.  A portion of my monthly grocery budget is actually allocated for doing exactly that.

Sunday morning, after reading the new grocery ads, I went to two stores to take advantage of some sales and add a stockpile to my freezer and pantry.  I also wanted to check the markdown areas of both stores in hopes of finding some killer deals, especially on meat, which is an area we are really low on right now.

This is what I found:

Albertsons - 

2 pkgs. Hot Italian Pork Sausage links - markdown from $5 to $3
2 Boneless Turkey Hams - markdown to 99¢ a pound
4 cans tuna - on sale for 69¢ each
1 gallon of whole milk - $2.29 (best price of the week)
1 jar Nutella Spread - on sale $2.99 less $1 coupon = $1.99
1 dozen eggs - on sale for 88¢ with store coupon 

Fred Meyer - 

4 boxes cold cereal - on sale at 4/$5 less two $1 coupons = $1.33 each
Pop Tarts - 48 ct. mega package $7.99
2 cartons ice cream - on sale 2/$4 less $1 coupon - $1.50 each
2 pound block of Monterey Jack cheese on sale for $4.99 each
2 pound block of Medium Cheddar cheese on sale for $4.99 each
32 oz. plain yogurt - marked down $1.39
1 pound ground turkey - $3.29 less 75¢ coupon
Parmesan cheese - $1.99
7 boxes pasta - on sale 79¢ each
2 pounds butter - 2/$4
1 family pack of assorted chicken parts - $4.86
1 family pack of chicken thighs - $4.27
1 half pint cream - on sale $1.19
1 loaf oat bran bread - on sale $1.33
1 pkg. cinnamon rolls - on sale for $1
2 pkgs. lettuce mix - Buy 1 Get 1 Free = 88¢ 

Most of what I bought is for stocking up.  The cereal and Pop Tarts will help the girls get their own breakfasts in the morning before school and the price, especially on the Pop Tarts was exceptional.  They should last for quite awhile.

The cream and parmesan will be used to make Alfredo Sauce.  We now have plenty of pasta for a variety of meals.  The bread will be used to make sandwiches for lunches.  Cheese has been really high lately so I was really happy to finally get some at a good price.  Until now the best I could do was $2.99 a pound.  I put the butter in the freezer.  The ice cream I plan to eat, sooner rather than later.  I also bought a package of refrigerator cinnamon rolls for our Sunday breakfast next week. 

It is good sales like these that I use to fill my pantry and freezer as well as creative meal planning and preparation to feed my family on so little money.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Dining Room

The first room I did when we moved in was our dining room.  In fact I had the furniture ordered and delivered to a friend's house before we even moved.  It is that important to me that we have a place to come together as a family and share our meals.  I have always insisted that we eat our meals at the table.

This is also the place where we usually hold our family meetings, discuss our days, do homework, play games, or sit and visit.  More often than not, when friends come over this is where we congregate.  So you can see why I felt it necessary to get this room done first thing.

I wanted everything coming into our house this time to be new.  No more secondhand purchases or hand-me-downs from well meaning friends and relatives.  I want my home to be all me in function, style and design.  I want it to be an expression of my tastes and personality.

I ordered four leather parsons chairs for $89 a pair and used my rewards points from my credit card to knock an additional $10 off the price.  I found a beautiful rubberwood dining table to go with them and put it in my Amazon wish list.  Rubberwood comes from the trees they drain the sap from for latex.  Once the trees are no longer viable for sap they make furniture from them and replant the trees making them a renewable resource.

Over several weeks I watched as the price on the table steadily went down.  When I got an email from the seller that the price had been lowered another $20 I went ahead and ordered it.  I figured at that price waiting any longer would mean they would sell out and I wouldn’t get my table.  So I ordered it at $109 and it is beautiful.  I love it!

The items on and in the built in China cabinet were things I already had.  Special things inherited from my grandparents and things I've collected over the years.  The picture on the wall is one my great grandparents had hanging on their living room wall in their cute little house in Spokane.  I always loved that picture and was thrilled to get it.

At Walmart I picked up eight pretty black fabric placemats that were on clearance for $2 each.  At the dollar store I splurged and purchased three fall glass candle holders in leaf shapes for a $1 each.  I already had tea lights at home.  They are perfect for dressing up our table.

I gave myself a $500 budget to outfit the dining room.  The four new chairs were $89 for each pair and the table was $109.  Less the $10 in rewards points.  Plus the shipping on the table and chairs was free.  The placemats were $16 and the candle holders were $3.  My grand total for everything came in at $296.  Well under my budget. 

Later I hope to add a bar cart for wine and spirits and some nice accessories to go with.  It will be nice to have when entertaining, especially at the holidays.  And I still have plenty in my budget too.

You may also enjoy revisiting this old post.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

On Sunday, after much shopping around locally and online I purchased a 40" LED HDTV for our "new home".  We have been wanting one forever and since our old TV died quite some time ago I decided to go ahead and get one after we moved out of the RV, whenever that might be.  I found a Sanyo brand at Walmart that had the quality of picture I wanted and the best price I'd seen so far.  It was only $248!  I was thrilled, needless to say.  I had budgeted $400 for a new television so that left more than enough for the Roku we also wanted.

I got the best price at Amazon on a Roku Streaming Stick which is what our new TV is designed to work with for $44.99.  Now we can enjoy all our free online TV viewing that we had been with our laptop in the RV and I am free to write blog posts and work on my book while the TV is on for the girls. J

I worked overtime all week and earned extra $$ to put toward my living room furniture which I purchased using my PayPal account which gave me a six months same as cash offer.  I have the money set aside to pay this off before the six months are up but I thought I'd put my overtime earnings towards it and keep my cash in my savings account in the meantime.

A friend of mine picked me up a case of Kirkland brand toilet paper at Costco for $14.99.  Amazingly we are just now finishing up the last case he picked up for me in January.  I am impressed that its lasted us as long as it has.

I did not do any grocery shopping this week. 

How was your thrifty week last week?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Want To See Some Dirty Pictures?

I always said if I moved out and rented our house I would never want to live in it again afterward and this is precisely why.  Tenants just don't care about your property the way you do and it is hard to find one that does.  There is no screening process for apathy, I'm afraid.

When I drove up I was greeted by a mountain of trash and a huge oil slick in the driveway.  I also discovered that apparently they had been walking through the oil and tracking it into the house as there is a path leading up to the front door and it was all over the front porch.

When I went inside it appeared clean at first and the strong odor of carpet shampoo left us hopeful.  However, the stains from the grease tracked inside and a lot of dripping of something was EVERYWHERE.  I was absolutely sick.

Our living room carpet
Stairs leading upstairs.
My bedroom.
My tenant did not show up for her final walk through and I'm sure this is why.  Probably a good thing because I would have definitely spoke rather frankly about the condition of the carpets, to put it mildly.  I couldn't believe it.  This is NOT how I left my home.

Thank goodness for wonderful friends.  Especially ones that happen to own one of the best carpet cleaning machines you can buy.  If it hadn't been for them I think I would have broke down and cried.  Once the shock wore off, that is.

After the first pass with the carpet cleaner.
Eeeeewwww!  Yuck!!
The carpet shampoo smell was really strong and when I felt the carpets they were sticky and crusty feeling so we knew they had used A LOT of soap and it was still in the carpet.  After a run to the store for stain remover, a scrub brush and a gallon of vinegar we got to work.  We cleaned those carpets FOUR times.  The color of the water was black after the first two passes not to mention the foam that came up on the surface of the carpet.  We retreated and cleaned the remaining stains and then "shampooed" again the following day with more vinegar and water until the water ran clear and the soap was finally extracted. Once it was dry it felt, looked and smelled like clean carpet once again.

We discovered the washing machine was riddled with mold and leaked on the floor.  My friend, who happens to be a plumber was all over that.  He unplugged the filter which was filled with sand and something he thought resembled lettuce.  I have no idea what that was, nor do I think I want to.  We ran two cycles of bleach through it and cleaned the rubber boot, door and the little drawer where you put your soap and bleach.  It was good to go after that.  My dear friend also pulled what resembled a small dead animal out of the dryer vent which was clogged with lint.

The dryer wouldn’t run and we got an error message to check the lint filter.  My daughter used her skinny hands to pull out a ton of lint from below and around the lint trap, then used the wand on the vacuum cleaner to suck out all kinds of junk.  After cleaning up the dryer it worked.  Thank goodness!

On garbage day we hauled the trash to the curb.  The bins were so heavy and I assumed filled with food.  They smelled like dead bodies and the flies were abundant.  I didn't want to check to see if there were actually any dead bodies.  I'm going with it being food.

Our neighbor let us use her trash bin to fill up some of the overflow too.  Nothing like parceling out your trash to your neighbors.  But now it is all gone and our trash man is high on my list of great people because he took it all with no complaint.  Here, if your trash can is too heavy they can refuse to dump it for safety reasons.  They don't want to injure their sanitation workers.  He was a trooper!  Thank you!!!

We loaded up the back of our truck with all the cardboard boxes the tenant had left behind and added our own from our furniture deliveries and hauled it off to the recycling center.  When we got back home and were able to see NO TRASH in our front yard I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Now I just need to get out there with a rake and clean up all the cigarette butts and little bits of trash and what have you. 

We'll be working on things for awhile yet.  But I am happy to reclaim my home and get it back to the standard in which I am willing to live in it.  I realize I am cleaner and pickier than most but for heaven's sake!  I don't think there was much cleaning going on around here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Uber Thrifty Month In Review - August

After paying our monthly bills I kept our other expenses to a bare minimum.  I did not add anything to my savings account but I did add to the Christmas fund.  With school starting and moving back into our house at the same time I really needed to keep a handle on it.  I think I accomplished that rather well.

I managed to get back and forth to work and run a few errands on two tanks of gas.  I started the month with a full tank and bought another about mid month.  I didn’t need to refuel until the 5th of September.

I did not refill the propane tanks on the RV.  I will leave that up to the future "home" owner.  We ate from the pantry and freezer throughout the month.  I bought a few things to round out meals we prepared from our supply, mostly produce and milk.  I didn’t buy anything the last week of the month and needless to say we really had to think of ways to get those final meals put together and on the table.

Back to school shopping was kept to a minimum as well.  Primarily we needed a few uniforms for the oldest to start school in and she needed a new backpack and shoes.  The youngest already had new shoes and quite a few nice outfits plus hand me downs from her older sister.

I shopped around a lot for best pricing on our new furniture for the house.  I was able to get some great pieces for not a lot of money.  I will be posting more about how I did this in the coming weeks as we get settled into our home. 

That pretty much sums it up for now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I spent a small fortune on cleaning supplies, primarily carpet stain remover.  My dear friend lent us her super duper carpet cleaner and came to help me as well.  We used vinegar and water to clean the carpets and extract the mega load of soap the tenants left on the carpet after they attempted to clean them.  The stains they left everywhere were horrific, but thanks to four cans of Spot Shot ($5 a can), a scrub brush, and a lot of elbow grease we were able to get most of them out.  I love Spot Shot.  It is amazing stuff!

I used vinegar and water to clean the dishwasher and bleach to clean the mold out of the washing machine.  I ran the vinegar through a wash cycle on the dishwasher and cleaned out all the accumulated yuckiness in the bottom and around the door.  My friend, who happens to be a plumber, cleaned out the filter on the washer which was clogged with sand and some green stuff he thought might be lettuce.  I don't even want to know how that happened.  We ran an old towel through a cycle and then it was ready to go.

The first wash load I did was to wash all of our pillows and bedding.  There is nothing like clean fresh bedding.  I then loaded the dishwasher with all of our dishes, silverware, utensils and the silverware tray to give them a nice wash.  After wiping out the cabinets and drawers I put all of that stuff away.

Monday afternoon we went grocery shopping, which I described in the post on Friday.  Not so thrifty but we are well stocked for the time being.  Tuesday I stopped at Albertsons and after a warm welcome back from the cashiers when we walked through the front door (I couldn't believe they missed us!) we checked out the meat department.  I bought two large packages of chicken hindquarters, three packages of pork chops and a package of Italian sausages.  All were priced as markdown items and all were less than $3 per package.  Now that's the way I like to buy meat!

I hit a clearance sale at Fred Meyer, 50% Off the lowest marked price.  I bought curtains for the living room for $16.  A curtain rod for $10.  A curtain rod for my daughter's room for $6.  A big throw pillow for the couch for $8 and a lamp and shade for the living room for $19.  Then I used a coupon to save an additional 10% off my entire purchase that I had clipped out of their ad.

I bought a tank of gas using my Fred Meyer rewards points and saved 10¢ a gallon.  I am eager to see how long that tank will last now that my commute to work is only five minutes.  I really love my commute.

Friday night we went shopping for new mattresses.  Right now the girls have their beds from the RV in their rooms and I'm using our Aerobed.  I think I've found the best price and quality on mattresses at, of all places, Fred Meyer.

After shopping for mattresses we stopped at a restaurant near our home and used a $5 OFF coupon.  Our meal with tip came in at $16 and the food and service was wonderful.  It made for a really nice "date night" to celebrate our homecoming as a family. 

What thrifty things did you do last week?