Friday, October 29, 2021

Friday again!

Thank you to everyone who shared their Christmas traditions & experiences. I really enjoyed reading every single one. That was definitely one of my favorite posts. We've had so much doom & gloom the past 2 years, that it was refreshing to talk about something fun. So, in order to keep the Christmas spirit going, I've been thinking about us doing a holiday treat recipe exchange. It doesn't matter if it's cookies, cakes, desserts, your own family recipe or someone else's. What do you all think of just posting or linking your favorite recipe in the comments, then I'll add it to a post every other day, so everyone gets to see it. Wouldn't it be fun to learn some new holiday recipes or get some new ideas? 

I already have Anne's rum brownies recipe. Hawaii Planner, I'd love your cardamom bread recipe please.

Not much happening in my neck of the woods this week.

  • I did very little grocery shopping, since we don't need much. I mainly bought a few produce items. I also bought more Kraft cheese at Meijer. It's on sale for $1.79 this week. You can't beat that price.
  • I received another unexpected gift, so I'm applying it to groceries. 
  • I've bought all our Thanksgiving food, with the exception of pumpkin pie. I buy 2 pies at Sams every year. I tried making pumpkin pie after MIL passed (she used to make our pies), but it flopped. I think I didn't bake it long enough, so the filling was loose. I gave up and bought our pies instead. Besides, it's only $5.98 for a large pie. That's far less than me buying ingredients and using my own electricity. Not to mention time.  None of us care for turkey, so we eat a non-traditional dinner and include a few traditional items. 
  • I did zero drugstore shopping this week. The only good thing was toothpaste & I wasn't gonna waste time to just pick up toothpaste. 
  • Loft sent me a $10 Birthday reward. Then they sent me a $25 Q that said "Ms Goose, we miss you. Come shop again please. Here's $25 to spend". The $25 was good this week only. From experience, I knew that they always have a free shipping day after I receive my birthday Q. So I waited & waited and the Free shipping day finally rolled around. It was extra 40% off clearance. There was also an extra 10% off, but you can only use 2 promo codes per order. So I split my purchases, used a reward and 40% off each time. I bought 3 blouses & a shorts for $2.04 ($1.90 + 14c). Then I earned 3c from Hey, every penny counts :) Besides, you can't beat this price. This is how I normally shop for myself. 
I'm busy and I'm not sleeping enough. Too many nights of waking up at 3 or 4 am and not being able to fall asleep again. Looks like everyone's doing holiday shopping early, because business has picked up again. I'm thankful, but I'm also stressed. I can do the work, but I hate those people who wait until the last minute to purchase things, then expect me to get it to them on time. It's always my child/spouse/myself need this for birthday, halloween, christmas, school play, easter (pick any event) by such a date. This is at least 3-4 days before they need the item. They don't want to pay for Priority mail, but expect me to deliver on time. Yep, I now supposedly work for USPS too. I always go the extra mile for my customers, but I don't like the pressure this time of year (and it's not even November yet).  This is why I do all my holiday shopping (groceries & gifts) early. It's just one less thing for me to worry about. 

I was never this stressed at the office though. I could work 14-16 hour days, without breaking a sweat or being stressed. I wear many hats here though and am always pulled in different directions. I just have to learn to say No to some people & things. 

I'm thankful that things have picked up though. I read an article about a month ago about how we're already in a recession again. The last recession was very hard on my business. It took me years to try and recover from it. I'm hoping that things have picked up for all of you who sell online too. 

I've also been dealing with some personal things, so that's been weighing on me too. This is why I'm so interested in doing some fun holiday things. I need a break from all the negative things. 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I can't believe it's time to do monthly numbers again. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Let's talk Christmas!

I'm curious to know how everyone else celebrate Christmas, especially the gifting part. My Christmas here is so vastly different from what I've had in South Africa.

Christmas has always been my absolute favorite holiday. Why? Because it's a time of giving and I'm a big giver. I love to spoil others and put smiles on their faces. It brings me great joy to see how happy someone is with something that I gifted them. I don't care about receiving gifts. I'm far more interested in giving to others. That's what makes me happy. I put a lot of thought and planning into gifts (not just Christmas ones). I like to give gifts that I know the recipient would like or something that they really wanted. I don't have to break the bank to do so. Most of you know about my shopping skills by now. 

Christmas in SA

I come from a large family. My mom had 9 siblings and each sibling had at least 4-5 kids. We spent most of our time with my mom's family. I always used to joke about how much her siblings love each other's company. Then again, my siblings feel the same way. Our family's extremely close. We do most things together. Aunts, uncles, cousins, you name it. We had many traditions that got passed down from one generation to another. We also created many of our own traditions. Our extended family spent ALL holidays together. Doesn't matter if we liked each other at the time or not. We all knew the importance of quality family time.

Christmas in our household was pretty much the same every year. We'd start cooking at least 2 days before Christmas. We had all kinds of meat like roast beef, corned beef, cow tongue (I eat it, but I'm not crazy about it. It's not strange to me, because I grew up eating it), fried chicken and oodles of different salads. Dessert was always trifle and fridge tart (icebox cake). We're in the southern hemisphere, so Christmas is during summer. We'd have long tresle or picnic tables in the backyard to accommodate everyone. 

On Christmas Eve my parents would go to midnight mass. I'd be up until late finishing all the deserts and we'd have Christmas music blaring on the radio. You just didn't do the festive season without Christmas carols. Christmas morning we'd get up bright & early, shower and get dressed in our new Christmas clothes and head to the early church service (our parish had 2 services). We knew that if we went to the first service, we'd be home earlier to open Then everyone would come to my parents house (straight from church) to open gifts (once we had kids, they opened their own gifts at home then come open their other gifts at my parents' house). 

As kids, we only got one gift. It was always a big ticket gift and everyone was happy. We didn't have Christmas stockings. We never knew about it, until I moved here. Once we had kids, I always bought each child 2 gifts. That's just me. I go all out for Christmas, especially for my family. I bought gifts for some of my colleagues who were close friends and for my BFFs. I always got the best gifts for my parents. We are big sports fans and I'd jump through hoops to get my dad original sports jerseys. I once had a customer in the UK who worked at a football (soccer) club. We became friends and I got her to buy my dad an original Man Utd football jersey and had her ship it to me, then I shipped it to him. I spared no expense, because a gift from the heart (one given with love) is always appreciated. Besides, it made my dad happy. You can't put a price on happiness.

I also support different Christmas charities. No child should be without Christmas gifts. That's how I feel. When I do Secret Santa, I make sure to buy kids name brands or high end items that they might not have gotten otherwise. I always choose the teens, because everyone else is just interested in shopping for the little ones. Teens are often forgotten and they're usually the ones who have to try to fit in with their peers. So I make sure to buy them really nice things (I'm the shopping queen after, because we all know how teens like to compete and some people can be cruel to those who aren't as well off as they are. So I try to help those teens 'fit' in, in my own small way. I also buy many extras that's not on their wish list, just because. It's Christmas after all.  My own child gets so much, so why not do the same for those in need? Make them feel loved and special too. This is one way of showing God's love to others. 

Lunch was at noon (that was our set time for Sunday lunches too. We do lunch instead of dinner in SA). After lunch we'd all go to one of my mom's siblings' home for the rest of Christmas day. It was either our house or an aunt/uncle's house (we'd rotate every year). The whole family would get together. The men would bring the liquor and we'd all hang out until the wee hours of the morning (2-3 am). Now you know why we cook so much food. Everyone needs to be fed while we hang out.  I remember my one uncle always showing up at family events with a tote bag. I eventually learned that he was carrying his booze in the Bottles of hard liquor. My family was always game for a party. They still are :)

My aunt's birthday is on Boxing day (day after Christmas for those who don't understand). So we'd all get up early (hangover and all) and head to my uncle/aunt's house for another day or celebrations. This is how my family rolled all festive season long. Everyone would go on vacation together, because everyone was off work for at least 4 weeks (summer break). Businesses closed. Some professional businesses had skeleton staff. At my last job I always chose to work during the holidays. There were so many public (federal) holidays during the break, that I was off more days than I had to be at the office. Also, the day before any holidays, we'd only work half day. I took my leave at other times of the year. We also had many beach days, because we lived right by the ocean. You can get in your car and be at the nearest beach in 10 minutes. We had 2 oceans, so there were lots of beaches to choose from. Fancy restaurants always lined the beach roads, so you could go have your fun in the sun, then hit a restaurant for food and sundowners (early evening drinks). 

My Christmas here is the complete opposite. DH is an only child and we only see his very small family at funerals. So we celebrate all holidays on our own. I can't blame him for his family, but boy do I get mad at him about us having to open Christmas gifts after dinner. Who does that anyway? Sacrilege! It used to be that we had to wait until MIL came over for dinner to open gifts. I still don't understand that part, because she always brought tons of gifts for us and we had gifts for her, so why couldn't we just open our own gifts in the morning & do her gifts when she gets here? Then MIL passed away and we still have to open gifts after dinner. Ugh!! So DS just gets to do his stocking in the morning. I told DH that we're the last people on earth to open gifts, because even the people in Hawaii have already opened theirs. Come on! Christmas day is almost over by then! Where's the fun & excitement for DS? After opening gifts, we take a drive to go look at Christmas displays and then have an early night. We're just a load of fun (snark)

I didn't know about Christmas stockings. I've never had one. I still don't have one. DS went without a stocking the first Christmas. I think it was MIL who asked me about DS's stocking, so I went to the Disney store and bought him a Mickey Mouse stocking. He still uses that stocking. I have to say that the quality is excellent, because it still looks great. I wash that stocking after use every year and it still looks almost new. 

DS has never really cared for the stocking contents. Probably because I don't really know what goes in a stocking. So I've started adding just one big gift to the stocking for him. He loves this. I also saw how overwhelmed he was by the amount of gifts on our first Christmas here. DH's 2 aunts and 3 of his cousins all gave DS gifts. Then MIL came with a truckload (DS is the only grandchild) and add in our gifts. So I started switching things up for him. I saved most of our gifts (yep, 'm guilty of  buying him a lot too) and every night from Christmas until New Year, I'd place a new gift under the tree for him. And yes, I do allow him to open it the minute he gets He loves it! It's like having Christmas for a whole week. I sure wouldn't mind celebrating Christmas for a week :)  No, it has nothing to do with Kwanzaa. In fact, I've never heard of Kwanzaa until I moved here. I still don't know what it is. I think it's a West African thing. I'm South African and none of the southern African countries know of Kwanzaa (as far as I know).

I don't even think DH owns a stocking. I've never seen one. We just give each other some gift cards and a few small things to put under the tree every year. I still cook and bake as if I'm feeding an army for Christmas. I can't unlearn it. We eat leftovers until we get tired of it, then freeze the rest. I do make our traditional desserts. I must have trifle and of course we must have Christmas crackers. DH doesn't really care for the crackers, but it's traditional for us. We wear our crepe hats from the crackers too. I'ts just fun.

I would've loved to have started our own traditions, but that sadly didn't happen. I'm big on holidays. I want it to be a fun, memorable event. I'd be fixing big Christmas breakfasts, make cocktails, play some games etc. It's a holiday after all. We ought to enjoy it. If it was up to me, I'd say let's book tickets to go have a month of fun in the sun with my family. I know that DS would love it, but DH wouldn't want to go. Heck, I'd be packing my our bags a whole month in 

This is why I always send my family gifts too (okay, I just like to spoil I know that they're always excited and happy to receive gifts, especially the kids. They don't care if I bought their gifts at 90% off, because they know it's going to be a nice item(s). My oldest brother and his kids are just as much fashionistas as I am, so they like it when I send them new clothes. They'd be shocked to see me dressed down (sweats, jeans, tees) here, because I used to look like a million bucks just to go buy a loaf of bread at the store back home. Everything on me had to look perfect. They know I always send them cool things. I like to buy brands that they don't have there or cost a fortune there,  like Victorias Secret, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, WHBM etc. I remember one year I sent my nephews each a few Ralph Lauren t-shirts. They didn't know the brand at the time, but a year or 2 later, it debuted in SA. Guess who were the coolest dudes in their Not to mention it was a lot more expensive than it is here. 

Every year I send my uncle (my mom's only sibling who's still alive) and aunt a bouquet of flowers and chocolates for Christmas. They love it. I don't think anyone else gives them gifts (besides their kids), so I make sure that they know we still love them, despite being thousands of miles away. My cousin in NY never sends the family anything. They're just cheap that way and the family hates it. My mom's family is very generous. We're always there to help each other. 

So my questions are:

  • How do you celebrate Christmas? 
  • Do you have family traditions? 
  • Do you & your spouse exchange gifts?
  • Do you have a Christmas stocking?
  • What do you fill your spouse and children's stockings with? 

I'd like to learn how others here celebrate Christmas - even those in other countries too. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

CVS Tripping

I've decided to get back to serious drugstore shopping again. My goal at the beginning of the year, was to save like it's nobody's business. Of course that plan got derailed due to pandemic & shortages. Sigh. However, I've decided that it's time to kick things back into high gear again. I'm shaking off the pandemic fatigue and getting back to what I do best - shopping & hustling. 

My plan isn't to just save. I want to make more money. I've decided to go back to my old drugstore couponing/shopping ways. Just because we don't need anything, doesn't mean I have to wait until my rewards expire to go shopping. No, I'm going back to shopping every week and selling as much of it as I can. I used to do this many years ago - before that stupid TLC came & ruined things with Extreme couponing. I hate that show!! I hate it, because it's complete BS. That's not how regular couponers shop. Most couponers are just trying to help their families save money - not clear the shelves and buy 100 bottles of Gatorade. That just doesn't happen in the real world.

Anyhoo, I used to buy lots of newspapers back then and hit the drugstores multiple times a week. I resold most of my purchases and our own personal needs were more than met. I know of a couponer who makes $4k profit per year, on her drugstore purchases. That's nothing to sneeze at for just doing something you're already doing. I'd like to make more than that, but I know that it will take way more work. Besides, CVS & RA have limits, so that won't work. There's always Target to add to the mix though. An extra $4k+, would be nice to add to savings. I'm not waiting until the beginning of the year to kick things things off. I'm starting right away. 

I had a 4/20 CRT that was expiring, so I decided to head to CVS. Oy vey, what a disaster. I really need to get my act together. Here's what I got:

2 x Loreal Elvive $8.00

2 x Dove shampoo 8.00

2 x Colgate t/p 7.98

2 x Playtex tampons B1G50% off 9.43

1 x Cotton balls 2.56

Less Loreal Q (3.00)

Less Loreal DQ (1.00)

Less Colgate DQ (2.00)

Less Colgate DQ (0.50)

Less Playtex DQ (3.00)

Less Beauty 360 cotton balls DQ (1.00)

Less EBs (18.00)

Tax : 1.69

OOP $5.39

Earned $10 EB ($5 Colgate, $2 Dove, $3 Loreal). Not sure if I earned enough for another Beauty EB. 

I knew that my total was too high. I especially added the cotton balls, so I could get my total high enough to use my $3 Beauty EB. I didn't want to use only part of the EB and forfeit the rest of it.

It turns out that my $3 Dove DQ didn't deduct. I know I had a Dove Q, because I added it before I went shopping. That thing disappeared into cyberspace. It's just poof, gone!

I also had a $4/2 Colgate DQ. I was beginning to wonder if I'm at WAGS, because CVS doesn't just deduct the smaller amounts first. I'm guessing the $4/2 didn't apply to the Colgate maxfresh (it's all they had of the participating Colgate sale items). 

I also messed up on the Playtex. It's spend $12 get $3 EB. Me : oh yeah, 2 boxes at $6.29 each is over $12. Right! The 2nd box is 50% off. Tell me how an accountant can't do basic Oh boy!

All in all, not a bad shopping trip, but I could've done much better. If I was a newbie, this would've been a great trip. However, I should know better. I received another $4/20 CRT.

Wags doesn't have an ad preview available yet, so I can't figure out what's good for next week. I'll wait until Sunday to see what new CVS DQs I receive, before making next week's shopping list. I still have $90 to spend at WAGS, so I might as well use it to make extra cash.

I'm not sure about going to RA. I don't have any rewards and their deals haven't been all that great this year. At least not to me. After shopping at CVS & WAGS, the RA deals kinda feels lackluster to me. 

Well, that's my new game plan. Wish me luck.

Tonight was taco night again. DS would eat tacos every day if it was up to him. This morning I cooked my own refried beans, before hitting the road for errands. I pulled some cooked fajita chicken from the freezer, added some toppings and dinner was yummy. This is why I love cooking a large batch of fajita chicken. I shred everything and fill quart size bags to freeze. They're so easy to grab when we want any kind of mexican dish. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Odds & ends

 It's been another crazy week. 

  • I only bought some produce at Meijer this week. Blueberries (my favorite berry) are on sale for 3/$5, so I bought 6 pints, oranges, bananas, apples and carrots. I was happy to see that Meijer still had apples for 59c/lb.
  • Well, the budget looked good until I went to Sams. All I needed was bread & yogurt (for both DS & myself. He prefers drinking yogurt and I like the plain greek). Sams was completely out of greek yogurt the last few times I've been there.  That was supposed to be a $25 trip. Next thing I know, I'm leaving the store with a pumpkin pie (as if I need sweets, cause I've gained 2 lbs again) and also picked up another box of Pringles for DS. I don't know what this Pringles shortage is at Sams. They never have enough stock. Since they had a few boxes this time, I decided to just get an extra one. Rather too much than too little.
  • Bought DH's last Christmas gift on my list at 50% off and paid with a gc.
  • Target had B2G1F book sale last week, so I ordered 6 books as my Christmas gift from DH. Only cost him $33. I always tell him I'm a cheap date, cause I always buy my gifts on sale/clearance. Turns out that one of my girlfriends took a page out of my book and now does the same for herself. She fills a box for herself with clearance items she wants and then just lets her DH wrap it for her at Christmas. I don't know if I'm a good or bad Well, the good news is that we at least get exactly what we want
  • This same friend told me how she stocked up on lightbulbs when her local store had them BOGOF. I never thought about stockpiling lightbulbs, but that's not a bad idea. I'm gonna buy some extras soon.
  • I bought a new instant pot. Not just any instant pot. I got the Ninja Foodi 14 in 1 pot. I've needed a new pot for months, because my inner pot's coating has worn off and the lid no longer seals well, so steam always escapes whenever I use the pot. My old pot is a Power XL pressure cooker, which I love, but it's not cheap to buy their replacement inner pot.
A few months ago, I took a mypoints survey about a new Ninja instant pot that cooks, steams and air fries. This thing looked awesome and I decided to wait and see if it actually comes to market. Well, it finally did. I was excited until I saw the price - $350!!!! There's no way I'm paying that much for a pot. Kohls only had the 9 in 1, which wasn't good enough for me (I have high I wanted the deluxe model. On Sunday I received a 40% off Kohls mystery discount and they finally had the 14 in 1 pot. Say no more! They also had $10/50 home purchase. So I bought my pot at a discount and earned $50 KC and will get another $15 KC/Y2Y on November 1st. I also received 1% Rakuten (ugh, Kohls used to be 6% minimum) 

Pot sale price $329.99
Less 10/50 (10.00)
Less 40% off (128.00)
Total $191.99
Tax $11.52
OOP $203.51

Earned $50 KC (I also bought DS's Christmas gifts - see below) + $15 KC + $1.92 Rakuten
Total earned : $66.92

I used the KC to buy things to resell so I can make my money back for the pot. I might not earn back the entire amount, but I'm gonna try my best to offset most of the cost. Well, I went to Kohls yesterday and according to my calculations, I should be able to recoup the cost with my new purchases.

I'm excited to try this new pot. Even DS is excited. This thing is humongous though. Before I ordered it, I asked my friend about the pot size (I only know the metric system). It turns out that my old pot is 8 quarts too, but this thing is way bigger. It's so big, it looks like I'm cooking for my large family again (not that I would mind that, but there's just 3 of us). The size is great for freezer cooking though. I'm most excited about the dehydrating feature. I've wanted a dehydrator before, but DH convinced me otherwise. I wasn't crazy about our air fryer before (it didn't cook my chicken completely) and got rid of it shortly afterwards. I'm hoping the air fry feature works better on this pot. Now I can do all kinds of things with just one pot. I want to try making my own yogurt too. Fingers crossed. I might have to try the baking feature too. But first I need to read the I haven't even gotten around to that yet.
  • While I was shopping at Kohls, I decided to check out the price of a gift for DS I had purchased at regular price from another retailer before. Well, well, well. Not only could I apply my 40% off, but I still had $29.10 gc and ended up getting 2 pairs, instead of the one I paid full price for. So I'm returning the original one to the retailer for a full refund. 
2 x Gifts $114.98
Less 40% (45.99)
New cost $68.99
Sales tax $4.14
Less gc (29.10)
OOP $44.03

The one that I'm returning cost $52.99 (incl tax). So I got 2 for the price of one and saved an extra $8.96. 

  • We went to the Indian store to stock up on spices. I got all this for $29.43. I even got a 5% discount (don't know why) too. This might look like a lot of spices to some, but I grew up cooking with lots of fresh herbs & spices. I actually only cooked with pure Indian spices. My aunt had an Indian friend who owned  spice store. On her annual holiday trips, my aunt would stop at her friend's place in Durban and stock up on spices for the family. 

I love going to ethnic stores, because you get much purer herbs & spices and the prices are fantastic. I recently paid over $8 for Tones paprika at Sams. I should have waited, but I didn't know when DH would take me to the market (he knows exactly where the store is, since he discovered it). I also wasn't sure if they would have lots of inventory, because of supply chain issues. They were fully stocked though. 
  • I haven't done any other shopping, since we don't need anything. I need to make a Trader Joe's run, because I've been craving samosas again. I love that stuff! I also want some Ezekiel raisin bread and TJ's has the lowest price. 
  • I treated DS to some donuts at Dunkin Donuts. My card balance is up to $80 again and we rarely get coffee on the go. After seeing Sluggy's DD pic, I decided to just get us some donuts. I initially wanted some Krispy Kreme (I have KK gcs too) since they have BOGOF dozen donuts on Saturdays, but the lines went all the way around the building. I still have a lot on my Starbucks gc too, so I'm just gonna treat him to frappucino's too, which we both love. 
That's about it for me. I'm done shopping for the week. I don't even need anything at Sams, so I'll wait until I need meat again before making a trip. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Ibotta double dip bonus & more

It's been months since I did any Ibotta deals. I needed to get milk & mayo at Walmart and figured I'd check Ibotta, since I don't have to worry about stockpiling anymore. I had a $10 WYB 15 and $5 WYB 15 midweek bonus. That would mean an extra $1 bonus cash per item. Made my list with extra items (in case store was OOS on some) and headed to the store. 

1 x Muellers pasta $1.52

1 x Ortega mini taco shells 2.48

1 x Sargento creamery cheese 2.70

1 x Sargento shreds 3.12

1 x Breakstone doubles 1.06

1 x Butterfinger 0.88

1 x Snickers 1.48

1 x Kraft mayo 3.48

1 x Kraft dressing 1.78

1 x Mushroom soup 0.57

1 x Gallon milk 3.07

1 x Just crack egg 2.98 Free after offer

1 x Kraft parmesan cheese 2.98

OOP $28.10 Paid with a gc

Earned $8.63 Ibotta

Ugh, the wifi never works well at Walmart and I couldn't find enough items to complete my bonus offer. Of course I couldn't check for alternatives, because I couldn't get a connection. So I stopped at RA on my way home, to add 2 more items (no easy task, cause I didn't want to spend much OOP)

1 x Stayfree pads 4.29

1 x Baby ruth 0.88

Tax 0.26

OOP $5.43

Earned $2.25 Ibotta ($2 Stayfree, $0.25 Baby Ruth) + $15 bonus

Total cost : $33.53

Total OOP : $5.43

Total earned : $25.88

Several items were MMs after bonus rewards, that helped offset the cost of the other higher priced items. Without the gc, my total cost for the items would be $7.65 after earning rewards. Not too bad, since the milk and mayo that I needed, almost costs as much. However, I only spend $5.43 OOP and I redeemed my earning for a $25 Walmart gc. I still had an old $7 balance on Ibotta from months ago. I might roll that new gc into new Ibotta deals or just use it to buy groceries. There's not much that we need so I'll hold onto it for now. 

In other news. I made Sams rich this month. I stocked up on meat. Boy was I shocked by the meat prices. It's almost as if we are living in a bad dream. I've had a hard time finding Pringles snack packs and plain greek yogurt at Sams. There were only 2 Pringles boxes available on my last trip to Sams, so I grabbed one. When I talked to my girlfriends about it afterwards, it dawned on me that I should've just bought both boxes. I left the other box in case someone else needs it too. Sometimes I'm just too nice for my own good :)

The juice aisle has been empty for some time. My friend said the Kroger juice aisles look the same (I haven't been to Kroger in a while). So I checked Costco for DS's juice, but unlike Sams, it doesn't tell you if your local stores have inventory or not. I planned on going to Costco this week, but then I figured that if Sams & Kroger don't have juice, chances are that Costco won't have either. So I decided to order the juice online (weird that Sams has it available online). Shipping for one case was $6 & $8 for 2 cases. So I decided to check the shipping cost if I added my decaf Dunkin. So I added one container and the shipping changed to $ What on earth?! Crazy Sam's math. Then I added another DD and shipping was $8 for 2 juice & 2 coffee (scratching my head) I really should type blog posts on my laptop, so I can add emojis. I just went ahead and ordered the 4 items. Shipping was the same price as me just ordering the juice. This was a small price to pay for convenience and my items are arriving tomorrow. 

I also stopped at Ollie's last week. I wanted to get more nuts and cranberries. Just before I left, I received a notification for 15% off at Ollies. Whoo-hoo! Say no more. I now have more than enough nuts/raisins/cranberries for baking and trail mix. I also picked up 3 books, so I was very happy. I've been waiting for a long time for them to add books from my favorite authors. Then yesterday, Ollie's sent another 15% off q that's good through next month. Oy, that place will make me broke.

I also found my mint chocolate chips and caramel for holiday baking, so I'm all set. I'm ready to try new recipes. I've already made gingerbread muffins and the guys declared it a winner. I'm beginning to think that they'll rave about all the treats just so that I can bake for them every week. 

I'm reading the news every day and the supply chain issue complaints are now getting out of hand. I agree, the government totally dropped the ball on this one. The prices of everything have skyrocketed, it's crazy. However, we've had fair warning about shortages when the pandemic started a year ago. 

I'm seeing people talk about having to go shopping almost every day just to find the items they need. Now this is nuts to me. Even if you aren't a couponer or stockpiler, you should've learned from panic buying last year. That should've taught people to be a little more prepared in case we got any 2nd, 3rd of 4th waves. I'm not saying they should've gone crazy with stockpiling. Just add little bits of things you use regularly, every time you go shopping. That's what most of us have been doing.

I've seen new moms complaining about the cost of diapers and how they're in short supply. Huh? Diapers have always been expensive. Here's my story. I was a single parent. DH's father has (to this day) not contributed a single penny towards his well being. Not only was I a single parent with no child support, I also financially supported our family of 6 (including myself & DS). Back then, we didn't have any coupons or reward programs in South Africa. However, I stocked up on all kinds of things before DS was born. After he was born, I used to stock up on diapers every time the grocery store had a sale. My colleagues used to joke about it, but it helped save me money in the long run and DS's needs were more than met. I did all this on my own, with no financial assistance from anyone. 

When one of my close friends here told me she's pregnant, I stocked up on diapers for her. Her husband didn't always work, so I decided to help her out. Back then Rite Aid had a $1 Q inside their 2pk store brand diapers. I would go to RA all week long (sometimes hit up multiple RA stores in one day) to roll those qs & stock up on diapers. I also used rewards to buy her Pampers & Huggies (whichever was on sale). Before she gave birth, I dropped of 2 large black trash bags full of RA diapers and lots of bigger Huggies/Pampers packs at her house. We actually met through couponing and became great friends. She too, had been stocking up on diapers & other baby things before she gave birth. We were always a good shopping team. We'd help each other out on all kinds of deals & steals. 

When I was a child, my parents didn't have fancy jobs that made a lot of money (no thanks for apartheid). However, my mother always stockpiled. I guess I learned it from her. She'd pay all the bills first (she hated debt), then save little bits every week towards the long summer vacation in December/January. Our seasons are opposite to the US and most businesses close over the holiday season. Everyone's on summer vacation for 4-6 weeks. She would buy little bits of non-perishables every time there was a good sale. My mother also bought meat stamps from the local butcher every week and in November, she would go buy a whole or half sheep and/or beef, because we had lots of parties & bbqs over the holidays. We saw our large family almost every day of the holidays, so you had to have food available. Despite just being simple middle class, my parents always provided and make sure that we had more than enough.

So it blows my mind when people complain about not being prepared and then blaming everyone and their mother for it. Even the Bible teaches us to prepare for lean times.  I do understand that there's those who struggle to make ends meet. Trust me, my family has been in that boat before, but somehow my parents always made it work. 

Maybe I'm being too hard on people. Maybe, it's because I'm a planner and like to have all my ducks in a row. 

Now I want people to understand that I'm not here just judging everyone, because we're in a position to plan & stock up for the future. I do a heck of a lot of giving. I just don't talk about it. As mentioned before, I'm extremely private. But when I see a need, I'm always there to help. I would give someone the shirt off my back if I have to. That's just who I am. 

I just wish that we could all get through this mess and get back to a normal life. I want everyone to be healthy, have jobs, have food on their tables and roofs over their heads. If our basic needs are met & we have family who love us and who we love, then we are far more blessed than we can begin to imagine. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

September monthly check in

Wowzers! How is it that a week has gone by again? I started writing this post a little over a week ago. 

Let's face it. I don't have a budget anymore. So much for my best laid plans of lowering our grocery budget & saving hard this year. The pandemic and global shortages have turned my life topsy turvy.

September was a seriously spendy month. I feel like I spent most of the month shopping. I have to remind myself that I've done Christmas shopping, so it's gonna feel like it does in November when I finish my holiday shopping (I still shop throughout the year, but not everything's available until the holidays).  So here's the good, the bad and the very ugly. An old couponing friend of mine told me that I should take inflation into consideration and that made me feel a teensy bit better. 


Produce market : $91.62

Costco : 62.44

CVS : $9.83

Dollar Tree : $19.42

Kroger : $16.21

Meijer : 4.78

Ollies : 58.57

Sams : $337.68

Walmart : $292.13

Total OOP : $892.68


$3.25 Ibotta + $1 KCB

I just don't have time to chase any Ibotta deals.

My earned drugstore rewards are not included in this amount.I count them when I spend it. 

I almost fell off my chair once I've crunched the numbers. I have never in my life spent this much on groceries in one month. As in never ever! I've been stocking up like crazy. As you can see, the bulk was spent at Sams & Walmart. We're in great shape. I know I'm still missing a few things. I need to go through my pantry and make a list.

Can you believe that I haven't been able to find any dish cloths at Walmart? I finally found some at Meijer. 

I went to the produce market twice last month, hence the high amount. 

This month's grocery bill should be a whole lot less. I'm budgeting $100 per week. I'm hoping for $80 per week, but I'm giving myself some wiggle room. Who knows how much inflation will continue to bite us in the behind. 

I'm finally at the point where we don't need anything else. My stockpile is full. I don't even have any more room to store any more groceries. I guess that's a good problem to have. We only need  a few more things like cereal, molasses, mint chocolate chips, caramel (baking) & cooking spray. I finally feel like I can relax when it comes to stockpiling. I'm so happy, because it takes a lot of time & planning. 


GCs Earned $110 ($50 Mypoints, $35 IGC, $10 Swagbucks, $10 PG, $5 Microsoft)

Personal items (things we've had listed for the past 2 years) : $74.97

2021 Closet cleanout : $14.60

Big goal : $0

Drugstore items : $14.67

Total earnings : $214.24

I also redeemed for some gcs through my CC. The PG is points that I've had forever and they finally added the coffee gcs again. Thankfully I was able to redeem for 2 gcs this time around. 

I listed zero personal items last month. I just didn't have the time. I'm trying to catch up on work, but that's also not so easy when I have to focus on making sure we're covered for any shortages. People have already started buying holiday gifts, so I need to get my butt in gear. I might have to consider getting up an hour earlier.

YTD Earnings :

GCs (point earning sites) : $560

Ibotta : $416.94

Personal items : $759.15

2021 Closet cleanout : $262.48

Big goal : $641.03

Drugstore items : $172.36

Total Earnings (excl Ibotta) : $2395.02

YTD EXPENSES (Clothing/shoes/accessories, Christmas gifts)

OOP  Shoes & bras (September) $184.82

Christmas gifts : $317.09

As I've mentioned before, I'm basically done with holiday shopping. The socks for DS (previous post) is an October expense since I bought it on the first. I actually didn't spend any other money on clothing last month, except for my athletic shoes and bras (both of which are needs). The rest of the expenses were all for Christmas gifts. I actually did pretty well on that front, because I utilized gcs to help offset the costs. I did buy electronics so I'm happy with my total. DH couldn't believe how little I paid for DS's main gift. I can breathe a huge sigh of relief that I I have Christmas taken care of. This is really early, even for me! The good news is that I don't have to think about holiday expenses come November/December.

Total OOP $501.91

What was it I said last month about getting out of the hole. Oy vey. I'll be very happy to get back to normal. I don't wanna spend any more money. I just want to get back to saving. 

YTD OOP (clothing/shoes/accessories, Christmas gifts) : $1343.96

YTD side hustle income (personal, closet cleanout, drugstore) : $1193.99

YTD clothing/christmas gifts expenses : $1845.87

YTD Balance ($651.88)

Now that stockpiling & Christmas shopping are done, I can get back to saving again. Savings this year was the plan after all. Time to get back to my original plan. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Some bits & bobs

September starts. I blink. October starts. That's how fast the months are passing by these days. September was an expensive month, but it's all because of stockpiling & Christmas shopping.

  • I'm almost done with Christmas shopping. I decided to finish my Christmas shopping early, due to all the shortages. I only need one more gift for both DS & DH. I have gcs to pay for those. I'm just waiting on a decent sale on those items. I also need to buy a bunch of gift cards as gifts, but those aren't urgent. Nobody's rushing to buy gcs. 
  • One of DS's gifts were already cancelled. I was upset. Then I changed what he wanted and have already received the item. Makes me glad that I shopped extra early.
  • I didn't even buy my own gift from DH this year. There's nothing that I need. There's several things I want, but I'll be happy with just gcs. That way I can shop the clearance sale at my leisure. He always insists on putting something tangible under the tree for me, so I'll just have him pick up some books from my favorite authors. Heck, I even go to Ollie's make a list and take pics for him, then send him to buy the books. Saving him money and stress. Darn, I'm a good 
  • Don't fall off your I bought 2022 calendars in August. I couldn't find any calendars at the beginning of this year. I use separate calendars for business, personal, finance & other things. I'm one of those straight/clean lines, black & white (no gray areas), got to compartmentalize things, kinda person. I like things neat & tidy in their own little boxes, so I keep everything separate. So I went online and printed a few calendars. All good & well, but I have a laserjet printer that only uses black toner. I don't like the black & white calendars. Too bland for me. So when I saw calendars at DT in August, I bought 3. They all come with the mini calendars and at $3 + tax, I needed no second invitation.
  • We needed more fruit last week, so I headed to the produce market. I figured I might as well just do a big shop since I'm already there. First I told myself 'no boxes. you don't have time to process a whole box of apples again' (I don't know why I At the entrance to the store they had a pallet full of strawberry boxes for $2. Shut the front door! The pallet was about 6ft tall (at least 2 meters). Each boxes contained 8 lbs. So there I was digging through the boxes. Every box had at least one container that had bad mold, so not too many people were interested in buying. Then I told myself that the store wants to get rid of the strawberries, so they won't mind if I build my own box. So that's what I did. I removed the bad containers from my box and replaced it with ones that are still good to eat. 
  • Then inside the store, they had more strawberry boxes in the clearance section. These contained 2lb containers. 4 Containers per box. So I picked up another box. They also had green & colored peppers for $1 a bag. Each bag contained 8 large peppers. I bought 5 bags. When I got home and removed all my receipts to scan, I saw that the cashier never rang up my strawberries. That's the first thing I told her about. I even showed her the number with my fingers and pointed to the boxes in my cart, because I know it's hard for most people to understand what you're saying with the glass dividers and everyone wearing masks. 
  • Most of the strawberries were washed & frozen for smoothies (2 gallon bags) Same with the peppers. I sliced many peppers (3 gallon bags full) and diced a quart size bag to freeze. The diced ones are for eggs and omelets. While I processed the produce, I kept asking myself 'WTH were you thinking' (because this is a lot of work). However, I'm always happy that I can just pull things from the freezer when I need it, without having to worry about slicing/dicing or prepping anything. I love time savers and having my life simplified, especially in the morning. Don't ask me to cook in the morning. Just give me coffee and give me some quiet time. 
  • I bought myself 3 pairs of athletic shoes. I don't have any extras and needed to get new ones. I was gonna wait for Black Friday, but then I read about how it's on the list of hard to find items this year. So I searched and compared prices of many different stores. Finally found my favorite brand on clearance at JCP and bought 3 pairs for $111. Not the best clearance price, but not a bad price either. As I was checking out, my first choice said it's OOS. No friggin way! So I decreased the quantity from 2 to 1 and added an extra pair in the other style. That did the trick. I bought 3 pairs to avoid paying $9 shipping. When I checked the next day, those shoes were all sold out. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I got shipping information this morning. 
  • Most stores have very little inventory, so I'm not sure if we're gonna see it on sale during Kohls BF sale this year. If they do have a deal on it, then I'll buy an extra pair or 2. 
  • I paid $52 for socks for DS today!! Holy cow. I'm not used to paying so much for things. He needed new long socks for winter. I don't think I bought him anything last year. I remember getting some from the stockpile. So I bought 5 sets. I'm not that mad, because 2 of the sets are short socks for next year. We wear select brands, so I figured I might as well get some while it's available. Remember how I struggled to find his favorite underwear? There's a global shipping backlog. Talked to my SIL who works in shipping and she said they have huge backlogs in South Africa too. No shortages yet, but I told them to stock up while things are still good. They're usually behind our pandemic curve. 
  • I thought that DS might need new winter pjs, but when I switched to winter pjs, I saw that his pjs still fit and are in great condition. He still has 7 new winter sets in the spare closet, that I bought at Kohls a few years ago. I remember that it was clearanced to $4 per set and there were coupons to stack and I paid with gcs. I bought different sizes, so he's good for a few more years. Look at me. I didn't know back then that we'd end up having all kinds of shortages. 
  • I did another Walmart stock up shop today. We only needed eggs, but I'm still adding to the stockpile. I do this, because I keep seeing how much emptier the shelves are. I want us to be good for at least 6-12 months (excl meat & dairy). I'm being a little more aggressive with my shopping. I'm buying 3 boxes of cereal at a time. Same with canned goods. I've noticed that Walmart stocks the cereal at the front of the shelf to give shoppers the illusion that the shelves are fully stocked, while only having 8-10 boxes in stock. 
  • The canned mushrooms price has increased again. Grrr This is the 2nd time in 3 months. Crazy! I spent $90 at the store today. I couldn't believe it, although my cart was almost full. I had to get my favorite CFA sauce too. I can't live without that stuff. 
  • I cringed when I had to pay $1.50/dozen eggs. DH always looks at me funny when I buy the limit of 5 x 18ct eggs when Kroger has it on sale for $0.99. THIS is why I do it. Besides, the Kroger large eggs look like Jumbo eggs. I feel like I'm eating 2 eggs (while using just one), it's so big. 
  • I'm back to cooking Friday night meals again. Friday is normally my yard sale/thrifting day. I'm normally too worn out to cook when I get home, so we just get carry out. That's $20 per week. My own food tastes far better than fast food & my body's sick of eating junk. Today I made Italian sausage with caramelized onions & peppers, fried potatoes and baked beans. Easy peasy and it tasted good. Not to mention, it cost less than half the price of fast food and there's leftovers.  I need to get more Italian sausage at Sams. 
  • I now have a system for Fridays. Homemade tacos (I make my own refried beans too), homemade pizza or Italian sausage. We can just rotate those 3 meals. We can add salad or veggies to any of those meals. 
  • Last week I stocked up on D Donuts coffee at Costco. They had the 45 oz containers on sale for $13.xx. Limit 5. I only bought 3, because I need decaf too (which they don't sell). The next day, I read that coffee is on the list of future shortages too. Good thing I bought 3 canisters (I did it only because of the price and it's my preferred brand). I'm hoping that Sams will have a free shipping day soon so I can stock up on Decaf.
  • My friend in DC told me that she couldn't find any t/p at Costco. She said she had to pay $30 for 12 rolls at a different store (I don't know which one). It's weird that she paid so much, because my Walmart had a decent supply of t/p. So do the drugstores.
  • A few months ago, I bought a large bottle of Lysol cleaner. I've never seen that size before, but after doing the math (I always calculate unit cost), I found it to be way cheaper than buying it at Walmart (who always has the lowest price around here). Now I'm hearing that cleaning supplies will be just as scarce as t/p. All I can say is "The Lord works in mysterious ways". 

  • I stopped at Wags today to stock up on deodorant for DS. They had the Old Spice for 2/$11. Buy 2 get $4 WC. The kicker is that the DQ is for $5/3. So I bought 4 at a time, used $10 reward. Paid $8.xx OOP and earned $8 WC. I did this deal on both our accounts, so DS has way more than enough deodorant. The deodorant (Captain) is the same scent as his b/w. I wish they had the spray in that scent too, but it's only available in Canada. 

  • I tried a new muffin recipe with my Ollie's almonds and craisins. The boys have declared it their new favorite!! I have to admit that the flavors are fantastic. The muffin still needs work though, because it's very dense. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to food. I made it twice and switched some things up (I always edit recipes to kick things up a coupla notches). I like to bake a different flavor muffin every week, but these guys insist I add the almond one too. I need to get more almonds and craisins and Ollie's and keep an eye out for fresh cranberries. 

I'm beyond thankful that our needs are more than met. I worry about those families who can't afford to stock up. I know that not everyone's in the position that we are. I know that some of my siblings are struggling too. They've had lockdowns again this year. Unlike in the US, they don't get stimulus checks. I have some plans to help if they need it. Some of them will just tell me that they're okay, even if they don't have. I don't want to tell them about it. I first want to assess everyone's needs and then decide what to do. I participate in Secret Santa every year, but charity begins at home. So I need to pray and ask God to show me whose needs need to be met this year. 

Today an old neighbor of ours told me her husband's brother passed away from Covid. This neighbor and her family were very close to us. They moved into the new town shortly after we did and we were like family to each other. We knew their entire family (in laws and and vice versa. The neighbor is disabled and my mom helped her with a lot and always went places with her, because she's legally blind too. She's just the sweetest woman. I've always sent her letters, cards and pics from the time I moved here. I'd print everything in a large font, so that it's easy for her to read. She has 3 sons and every day I'd buy bread for both our families, then go across the street to take the bread and visit with her. I'd call my mom from work every day (just to ask what's for If my mom told me the neighbor was out of something, I'd go and buy it on my lunch break or on my way home from work. She'd always bake pies and bring some over to us. I know that she's been lost since my mom passed. She would always tell me how much she misses my mom and give me updates on the new people who bought my parents' house.  Most of the old neighbors have moved away, so I still keep in touch with her. Thanks to modern technology, we can chat every day. 2 of her sons live abroad, so I know that she's lonely. My heart just broke for their family, because I know her husband's brothers. A few months ago, she told me that 2 of them had Covid. I was worried, because she &her husband both had the flu, but that's thankfully all it was. She's 70 years old, which puts her at a higher risk. I just wish that I was closer, because I know that she needs someone there for her. 

I will post numbers tomorrow or Sunday.

Okay, I give up on trying to get the bulleted list fixed or aligned correctly.  I've finally figured it out, but I'm too pooped to try and change things now. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

My blog has moved

Hi everyone I have decided to move my blog. I tried to sign up for ads several years ago, only to to discover that the ex already owned an a...