Monthly Archives: January 2011

Happy February

Standard

Ahhh, pay day!  Nothin’ like paying bills on a Monday morning.  *sigh*  But, seriously, thank goodness for it.  I stayed up way too late last night, blogging away.  Six a.m. came early this morning, along with grumpiness and burning eyes.  All day, I have waited for this evening when I could lounge around in my PJs and go to bed early.  So, why did I just finish a cup of french vanilla coffee?…

A tax filing service with no fee?  Say it ain’t so.  Oh, honey, but it is!  Are you a member of SECU?  Check out http://www.ncsecu.org to see if you qualify for the free tax preparation service.  You’re a member, but don’t qualify?  File your taxes via Turbo Tax and save 15%.

For all you techies, check out http://www.monoprice.com.  This site offers deals on electronic gadgets such as HDMI cables at about 1/3 the cost compared to stores such as Walmart.  That whole motherboard area behind the tv that connects the Blu-Ray to the tv to the stereo to the Xbox, etc is ridiculously insane to me.  For those of you who have the kind of brain that can process this electronic chaos, I bow to you.

Do you love candles, but hate the nasty ring of black soot that collects at the top of the glass jar?  Or do you have children or pets and prefer a safer alternative to an open flame?  Check out Scentsy products at http://www.scentsy.net.  I have two plug-in warmers in two bathrooms and absolutely love them (brown and rust, from the Groovy collection).  They serve as nightlights and air fresheners, all in one.  My favorite scents are Cinnamon Vanilla and Central Park Pralines.  These are definitely unique and creative gift ideas.  One plug-in warmer and one bar (that contains the wickless wax cubes that fit into the “cup” of the warmer) set you back only $20.  Guess what?  February brings a 10% discount to all products!  So, instead of $20 for both products, you can get them for $18.  I just placed an order for four plug-in warmers and four bars for four lovely ladies on their birthdays.  My consultant is sweet enough to wait and order my items with other party orders, so I never have to pay shipping.  (Thanks Annick!)

At Costco tonight, I was able to get five pounds of clementines for $6.99 and twelve Greek yogurts for $10.19.  Hooray!

Tonight, Andrew and I were able to redeem yet another BOGO coupon, this time at Quiznos.  The guacamole spread on the veggie sub makes it divine.

Happy February!  Let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow.

Zhen Bang!

Standard

What a gorgeous weekend – and 65 on Wednesday!  These temperatures have me looking forward to spring.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the warm weather and lots of savings during the past week.

On Monday, I purchased my first bottle of buckwheat honey from Fresh Market (www.freshmarket.com) – another super food marked off my list!  Because it is so dark, the flavor and scent are very strong.  I add one teaspoon to my hot, green tea each night.  To mask the strong flavor, I also add cinnamon to taste and… voila!  Monday also brought the debut of our family photos.  I must say, they are too cute.  On my list of things to do this week is to select the poses that I’d like to purchase.  On Monday night, Andrew and I were able to use a $10 coupon at Peking Garden (www.pekinggardenraleigh.com) – talk about a surprise in the mail.  The pad thai with tofu was zhen bang!

Tuesday night was my regular night with Grace Ann – walking and dinner.  I think of the Mexican dinner (www.elrodeogrill.com) as a reward for our three mile stint, and the $6 coupon made the meal even more enjoyable.  Try the veggie wrap with vanilla vinaigrette……mmmmm.  Grace Ann introduced me to the Regal Crown Club.  By joining, you earn rewards for going to the movies, like free movie tickets, popcorn, and drinks!

On Wednesday, my mother told me about Triangle Restaurant Week (http://trirestaurantweek.com).  She heard about the event on the news.  January 24 – 30, participating restaurants offered $15 lunches and $20 or $30 dinners.  For restaurants like Mura, Ruth’s Chris, and Gravy, these prices were greatly discounted, but not enough to fit into my budget.  Missed it?  No worries, the event happens again June 6 – 12.  Wednesday brought good news.  I applied to be an examiner (www.examiner.com), and was accepted!  This way, I’ll be able to write about the same subject matter that I blog about, and will be able to share with more folks searching for ways to save money.  I am super excited about this new opportunity!  On Wednesday night, Andrew and I used a $1 coupon to… you guessed it… Shish Kabob.  My tuna salad gyro was a perfect after-gym meal.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Pei Wei (www.peiwei.com) offered a card, redeemable for a free Korean BBQ meal.  So, I picked up mine on Thursday night.  While in Brier Creek, Andrew and I used a BOGO free coupon at A Slice of New York Pizza (www.slicenypizza.com).  One (huge!) slice of roma tomato hit the spot.

This weekend brought the NHL All-Star Weekend, a two day event covering seven city blocks, and all free!  Two thumbs up to the city of Raleighwood for hosting such events that attract visitors and stimulate cash flow.  I did not attend but I’m sure my hockey nut friends Rob and Andrea can fill us in with all the details!

On Friday, I purchased soymilk for the first time – the Trader Joe’s vanilla version.  It is super tasty, with 5 grams of protein and 1 gram of dietary fiber per serving.  Friday night, Andrew and I rented “Dinner for Schmucks” for $1 through Redbox.  Steve Carell is a genius.  I laughed the entire time.  Hysterically.

On Saturday night, Andrew and I were able to use another surprise BOGO coupon, received in the mail.   We had a great date night at Johnny Carino’s (www.carinos.com) and I was able to get an inexpensive and healthy meal of angel hair with artichokes and, later, a strap for my yoga mat.

Tonight, Andrew and I visited Lowe’s again and learned about the WaterSense high efficiency toilet rebate program.  Certain high efficiency toilets qualify for a rebate of $100!  There is no limit to the number of qualifying toilets purchased and the rebate program lasts as long as the money is available to reward participating customers.  So, not only would the purchase allow you to save water with each flush, but you’d only pay $38 per toilet (for the model that I am considering)!  I hope to make this transition very soon.

Here’s to a fabulous and inexpensive week!  I’ll let you know how the new Pei Wei Korean BBQ dish is.  There is at least one fun and free event in the near future – the Superbowl (and the commercials)!

This Year, Debt Is Out and Fiber Is In

Standard

Ooooh, I just love a lazy Sunday!  There is nothing better than sitting by a cozy fire and watching NCSU beat Miami.  Speaking of lazy, I am going to do my best to submit new posts more often than once a week.  The work week is just so crazy, though.  By the time I get home from work, work out at the gym, and grab some food (not full price, of course), it is practically bedtime!

On Tuesday evening, I visited Ulta for the first time ever.  (Thanks Grace Ann!)  *sigh*  Where have I been?  Under a rock?  I cannot believe that the products hadn’t lured me there before now.  Makeup, lotion, hair products, perfume, wigs (hello, Halloween!), and… drum roll… a salon.  I had heard of the store but no one ever told me that Ulta had salons!  Be still my curls.  The prices were great, with a free consultation and all over color starting at $55.  (I have not yet convinced myself that gray equals wisdom.)  I took a contact card and price list and will be calling Tammy very soon, probably in February.  I was in need of some conditioner and found Redken’s Fresh Curls.  If all this wasn’t enough to color me happy, I was schooled on the rewards system at checkout.  With each in store or online purchase (including salon services!), four points are earned for every dollar spent.  Points may be redeemed at checkout.  (Grace Ann had acquired enough points from previous purchases to redeem $9.)  Also, coupons and special offers are mailed and emailed throughout the year.

On my way home, I had a craving for Goodberry’s ice cream (www.goodberrys.com).  In December, Goodberry’s offered a $50 gift card for only $25.  Of course, I had to take advantage of such a sweet deal.  (Merry Christmas to me!)  So, Andrew and I enjoyed tasty treats that were, in a sense, half off.  And I thought the frozen custard, made every hour with no chemicals, preservatives, or artificial flavors, couldn’t taste any better.  (FYI:  Monday’s flavor of the day is blackberry.)

On Wednesday, Groupon offered a discount to Cinelli’s; $10 would buy $20 worth of food.  Score!  That same day, I took advantage of my Costco membership (www.costco.com).  Gas prices are cheaper than most convenient stores can offer, so I filled ‘er up.  I also bought several healthy snacks.  My 24 individual bags of Veggie Snacks were 40 cents per bag (I take these to work as part of my lunch) and my Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Spice crunchy granola bars were 19 cents per set of two.  Other honorable mentions are Kashi Heart to Heart original whole grain crackers and Brookside dark chocolate pomegranate.  (Note to self – blogging about snacks may cause uncontrollable snacking, even at 1:09am.)

Andrew and I enjoyed Subway subs for dinner on Wednesday night, taking advantage of the $5 footlong promotion.  We had enough food for dinner that night and lunch the next day… if we hadn’t eaten our footlongs in one sitting.  I blame the tv.  Everybody knows that eating in front of the tv causes one to eat more from mindlessly going through the motions.  Evil tv.

On Thursday night, we cashed in our Groupon coupon to Cinelli’s.  Our bill came to a whopping $0.61!  That same meal without the coupon would have been $20.61, but my grand total was only $10.61.  That same day, I finished reading “SuperHealth” (loved it).  I am on a mission to find buckwheat honey and will be visiting Fresh Market, tomorrow.  Soymilk is next on my list of items to add to my diet.  I have since cracked open “The Total Money Makeover”.  I think I will really enjoy it and can see why Dave Ramsey has such an extensive following.  This year, debt is out and fiber is in, baby.

This weekend was super exciting.  On Friday night, Dave, Nikki, Aaliyah, Andrew, and I had dinner at Carolina Sushi and Roll (www.letseat.at/carolinasushi), one of my favorite places.  The sushi is to die for.  Edward (the owner’s son) always treats us to delicious appetizers, on the house.  This time, I tried the Hungry Roll, made with spicy tuna.  Soon, I hope to try the raw stuff (or bait, as my Daddy calls it).  Baby steps.  Afterwards, we watched “The Social Network” ($1 from Redbox).  I highly recommend it.

In November for my parents’ 50th birthdays, my Aunt Caroline, Aunt Cathy, and Sweet Thing gave my parents a gift certificate to a local photographer for a family portrait.  (Thank you ladies!)  On Saturday, we had our portrait done.  We dressed casually in jeans and various red shirts (Go State!).  I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Today, Andrew proved Daddy right – he really is Handy Andy.  Hee hee.  Andrew was kind enough to repair the guest bathroom toilet and replace the signal lights in my car.  He saved me a pile of money and scored some major brownie points.  Because of him, I didn’t have to call a plumber and didn’t have to take my car to a repair shop.  For dinner, I treated him to a sandwich from Jason’s Deli (www.jasonsdeli.com).  How awesome to find out that online ordering rewards customers with Deli Dollars (one US dollar = one Deli Dollar).  Think it can’t get any better?  Jason’s products contain no high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, or MSG.

I’ll have to say, the best part of the weekend was time spent with family.  In one day, I was able to visit with Mama and Daddy, my sister and niece, my brother, Sweet Thing, three aunts, and a cousin (Happy Birthday Daniel!).  Barrett Strong was right; the best things in life really are free.

Those Greeks Sure Know Their Way Around the Kitchen

Standard

What a long and fun week of savings!  As you have noticed Andrew and I aren’t fans of cooking, but he is more willing to fire up the oven than I am; the extent of my contribution is using the trusty microwave or handy Keurig (savings of 20% at Bed, Bath, & Beyond).  To give you a better idea of how much I despise the domestic task, I purchased a magnet in Arizona in 2009 that reads, “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.”  Hilarious and, yet, so true.  That being said, we look for ways to find tasty, healthy, and affordable options on weekends and weeknights (we brown bag it during the week).  Going out is fun, but seeing how much money you can save while going out on the town makes it even more fun.  Two Saturday nights ago, we used our best resource – the Citipass book that I mentioned in an earlier post.  We used a buy one get one free coupon to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner (an $8 and change savings).  The following night, we used a $25 gift card to Olive Garden that my brother had given me for Christmas.  Thanks William!

Monday night brought snow, ice, and free pizzas!  We had a coupon for a free large pizza from Hungry Howie’s.  (Never had it?  They offer pizza with flavored crusts – try the garlic herb.)  When Andrew went to pick it up, they were afraid we wouldn’t be happy with the first pizza because it was a little done on one side, so they made us a second one and let us keep both.  Score!  This worked out wonderfully, since the parking lot on Tuesday was a sheet of ice.  We already had a meal for the night and didn’t have to go out to get it.

Remember the $50 gift card that I opted to receive through BCBS, last week?  Well, it came in the mail on Thursday!

On Friday, I took my precious black winter boots to the shoe repair store.  This isn’t just any shoe repair store – not for my pointy toe heels.  This place (Watkin’s) is locally owned and charges only $7.00 to have the heels redone for BOTH shoes.  Prior to finding this jewel, I was having my babies worked on at another shoe place, which charged $7.00 PER shoe.  And, the best part?  They are ready to be picked up tomorrow.  Talk about inexpensive and quick service…  More good news was shared with me on Friday.  For the past few years, I have participated in the Race for the Cure to raise money for the research and prevention of breast cancer.  It is an awesome experience to sweat it out in the heat of a June day and see more than 30,000 other volunteers all around you.  I received an email reminding past participants that registration was now open for the 15th annual 2011 Race for the Cure on Saturday, June 11.  Not since I began participating has a discount been offered.  This year, if you register and join a team before April 1, you’ll receive $5 off of your $25 registration fee.  What’s that you say?  You’d like to sign up, but don’t know of a team to join.  No worries – team Pink Floyd to the rescue!  Pink Floyd was created last year in honor of a co-worker and breast cancer survivor.  If you’d like more details on the event, just let me know.  I’d be glad to share.  Friday night, Andrew and I took friends of ours (Dave, Nikki, and Aaliyah) to Shish Kabob (you’ll hear about this place over and over and over and over….).  We never tire of it.  We used a coupon, of course – $2 off of a $10 purchase.  Those Greeks sure know their way around the kitchen.  Andrew loves his coffee and I adore the occasional chai tea latte, so we used a coupon for a 99 cents coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and saved over $3.

On Saturday, we were treated to the “Discover the Real George Washington” exhibit at the Museum of History.  My dear friend, Grace Ann, volunteers there and gave me two free tickets (a $20 savings).  I’ll have to say, the most interesting and disgusting part of the exhibit was the display of animal and human teeth on a metal frame, the only surviving set of dentures worn by Washington.  I was excited to find a birthday gift for my great Uncle Carl in the museum gift shop.  Even though his birthday isn’t until September, I’d rather purchase a gift early that he’ll love rather than shop like a mad woman later and feel like I’m settling for a so-so gift.

Sunday, Andrew and I headed for Smithfield.  On the way there, we used a buy one get one free coupon for smoothies at Smoothie King (a $4 and change savings).  Smithfield is home of the Carolina Pottery and Outlets.  I always make a trip there to buy my Yankee candles and Bath & Body Works liquid hand soaps.  Both outlet stores offer amazing prices compared to non-outlet stores in the mall, for example.  In the outlet stores, large and medium size candles are $12 and $10 respectively and hand soaps were 6 for $20!  Two special editions of hand soap were $1.99.  I was able to take home 8 hand soaps for around $25.  After the steals at the Pottery, we opted for a matinee viewing of “Tron”.  Of course, we were at the theater before 6pm and received the discounted price (and were able to keep the super cute 3-D glasses).

Today, we’ve enjoyed a day off from work and took more friends (Miles and Farrad) to Shish Kabob.  I know, I know – we were just there!  We were able to redeem another coupon of $1.00 off.  (Hey, every dollar counts!)

I hope your week has been as chock-full of savings as mine and that you are taking advantage of coupons and discounts.  I am excited to burn my new Fresh Mint candle and to learn more about the new 13th Zodiac sign, this week.  I’m hoping the short work week will be a good one…

We Could All Stand a Makeover

Standard

It has been several days since I’ve added a new post and we have lots to discuss!

For those of you who could benefit from having business cards, boy, do I have a deal for you.  I received an email on Wednesday from Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.com).  This company is currently offering 250 business cards for the cost of shipping only, which is $5.67.  I don’t have the type of career where I need to keep business cards readily available, but I took advantage of this offer several years ago.  You get to choose from lots of fun themes and colors.  I think it is nice to have, for example, when someone asks for your email addy.  Rather than finding some piece of scrap paper, just whip out the fun and inexpensive business card.

Thursday was a busy day.  I received a free gift card via Blue Cross Blue Shield’s “points” system, began reading “SuperHealth”, and went through my Christmas receipts.  The health insurance offered by the company I work for is through Blue Cross Blue Shield.  They offer an online program which allows participants to score points by entering fruit and vegetable servings consumed and forms of exercise performed.  A participant is able to redeem points at any time, choosing to receive an actual item (like a cooler or iPod speaker system, depending on the amount of points earned) or a gift card.  I should receive my $50 gift card in 2-3 weeks!  “SuperHealth” is a fascinating book by Dr. Steven Pratt, M.D.  Not only does it give detailed accounts of which foods benefit our bodies and how, but it was on sale for $5!  I highly recommend it.  I thought by now that if any of the Christmas gifts that I gave were the wrong size or just plain wrong, I would have heard about it, so I thought it would be safe to recycle all of the receipts from those purchases.  I must do a little bragging here – this was my first credit card free Christmas.  I decided to start making purchases in September to spread out the spending.  It was so easy to make a few purchases each month, from September through December.  I will definitely continue this new tradition, next year.

I saw my baby brother Thursday night and borrowed Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover”.  This was my gift to him for Christmas, but he enjoyed it so much that he has already finished it!  I am excited to get some pointers from the guru and to take a look at the worksheets.  And, besides, we could all stand a makeover.  While chatting with my brother, we happened on the subject of filing taxes.  He shared with me that Dave stresses claiming more allowances on your W-4 and NC-4 forms in order to receive more money in each paycheck (if eligible – the IRS will not give you a break, even if you tell them that Miss 2 Cents wrote about it in her blog).  Even though you will receive a smaller refund, you will be able to use the extra funds in each check and earn interest on those funds once deposited into your account.  I am happy to say that I increased my allowances, yesterday.

I have lots to keep me busy over the weekend, including enjoying the snow and this blueberry banana smoothie.

And you have lots to research.  I’m interested to hear from you.  What sites have you visited?  Which ones did you benefit from?  What sites would you suggest that I have not mentioned?

Too Bad I Don’t Eat Chicken

Standard

Today, I woke up excited for my little brother as I remembered last night’s text – “Just paid off my student loan,” he wrote.  He is awesome and even though he is six years younger than me, I totally look up to him (never mind the fact that he is a few inches taller than me).  He is the one who introduced me to Dave Ramsey, and he is the one who is leaving a trail of dust as he races through the Baby Steps.  “One day,” I tell myself, “One day.”

My saving mood continued as I settled in at the office.  My cousin emailed me details on getting a FREE Chick-fil-A new, spicy chicken biscuit, so I had to share it with my co-workers.  If you live or work near a Chick-fil-A restaurant, check out http://www.getspicychicken.com for your free biscuit.  And hurry!  This offer ends January 8th.  Too bad I don’t eat chicken.

I am not encouraging shopping just to shop, but if you need to purchase a reasonably priced birthday gift or similar, check out Sam Moon Trading Company at http://www.sammoon.com.  Talk about trendy items with affordable price tags!  Sorry, boys… women and kids only.

While you’re on a roll surfing the web, make sure to sign up for Travel Zoo (www.travelzoo.com) for the best travel deals, Groupon (www.groupon.com) for daily discounts, and The Mint (www.mint.com) for a free way to manage your money.

Greetings!

Standard

Happy Belated New Year!  I thought the creation of my first blog was appropriate during a time of resolutions and new beginnings and positive changes.  Like millions of Americans, I am on a mission to eliminate debt, stick to a budget, and maintain a fun lifestyle.  With the help of Dave Ramsey (thanks baby brother!) and the drive to be financially stable, I intend to make wise financial decisions on a daily basis.  Hopefully, this blog will keep me on track.

Today at the gym, I watched “Mary Talks Money”.  In this particular episode, Mary Caraccioli interviewed three women who were shopaholics.  One, specifically, said something that kept my interest… “High heels make us feel…. high.”  She is sooo right.  She was referring to the purchase of shoes or handbags or accessories that give so many women a sense of euphoria.  I left the gym knowing that the release of endorphins from working out would have to be my “high” for the day, or maybe the buy one get one free coupon that my boyfriend and I used at Bruegger’s. (If your city offers Citipass books, you absolutely must invest in one.  The $25 book is worth every penny and offers tremendous savings.)

Until next time, google Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps…