Saturday, August 24, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments - Credit Card Edition

green beans and wax beans from our garden
OK, not everything I'm going to list involves credit cards, but a couple of items do.  If you've been convinced that credit cards are inherently evil, you may want to skip those parts (the first two paragraphs), but if not, you might find a tip or two that will be useful for you.  Here's a summary of our week:

We have a WaterPik that we bought over 20 years ago.  The past month or so, it has started making a noise that sounds like someone put Chewbacca in a garbage disposal.  It doesn't sound good.  I went to Amazon and applied for the card offer they've been offering me for a while.  I was approved, so I got a $50 credit at Amazon.  It was instant, so I used it to purchase a WaterPik, along with a book that I had decided I need to own and some stocking stuffers for Daughter.  I also used the $5 off $25 offer from facebook, so everything was free.  As for the old WaterPik, I will keep it and use it for other things until it dies.  It's a mini pressure washer, after all, so I'm sure I'll find lots of uses for it. 

We're planning a trip to visit my parents.  We will be driving, and it takes more than a day to get there, so we'll be spending the night in a hotel one night in each direction.  We've also decided to stay in a hotel while we are visiting this year.  It's going to make it easier on my parents, breakfast is included, and there's an indoor pool and hot tub.  Since our visit is also our vacation, some little perks are a nice treat.  Before we made our reservations, Husband checked on some things and discovered that by using our UPromise credit card, we get 5-6% of our hotel fees deposited into Daughter's college fund.  In addition, by going through their website to book our hotel stays we are getting an additional 5% cash back.  He also signed up for 5% cash back (I believe that's on the Chase card) on gasoline purchases for the month of the trip.  (We won't be going for a whole month - it's just that they have the offer for the whole month.)

Another way we are saving on one of this hotel stays is by staying in a smaller town.  On the way to Mom and Dad's, the good place to stop is a college town, and the cost for a room was much, much higher than it is in any of the other places we will be staying.  We decided to stop in the college town to eat supper, but then travel another half hour further down the road to the hotel.  We know from past trips that the little town where we'll be staying is a very tiny town, and college towns always have plenty of places to eat, so this should work really well for us.  Traveling a little further after supper puts us a little closer to our destination and saves us about $40. 

I picked flowers from the flower garden to brighten our home.

I picked zucchini, green beans, herbs, lettuces and more green beans.  The peach tree ripened too, so we picked it!  I fed bolted lettuces, spinach and weeds to the chickens to provide variety and save on feed.  I canned 15 pints of green beans...a total of 23 so far.  I made six half-pints of peach-almond jam.  Not bad for a tiny garden.

This year's peach harvest.

I made pancakes, salads, boiled peanuts, Italian beef au jus (which I thickened a bit for gravy), fish tacos, a pork stir fry with rice, sesame bean sprout salad and barbecue chicken/bacon pizzas. We ate leftovers when they were available.

Pork and Vegetable Stir Fry with Ginger-Orange Glaze (and Sriracha!)

Laundry was hung on clotheslines and drying racks.

I trimmed my bangs and deep-conditioned my hair with some stuff I found in the cabinet.

We rode our bikes and went for walks, for exercise and fun.

On town day, Daughter used her free kid meal coupon at Chick Fil A.  She got the coupon from Summer Reading.  We also stopped at Target - spaghetti sauce was .50 a jar after sale and coupon, so we stocked up.  Albertson's is having some great deals too - we went several times and ended up with nearly 40 pounds of beef, lots and lots of canned goods and some produce.  We used stock up funds, which are just grocery money we didn't spend in the past and set back for deals like these.  The roast was 1.60 a pound and canned vegetables and beans were .40 per can - woo hoo!

A friend went home to Iowa for a visit - while she was there she got a few items from the Amish/Mennonite store for me, so now I'm stocked for coconut oil, baking cocoa and buttermilk powder.  I reimbursed her for those things, but she also gave me a #10 can of sweet corn, some dehydrated hash browns, salted caramel hot cocoa mix and a jar of mulberry-rhubarb jam.  Thank you, Dearie!

We are teaching Daughter to play Scrabble.  She really likes it!

Husband cut firewood he salvaged from the pallet factory.  He also stopped and picked up another truckload, which will still need to be cut.  Free heat for the coming winter!  We also cut down some trees in the front yard.  They aren't the best for burning, but they'll get burned because they're wood.  We cut them down because one was dead and the others'leaking'.  Ew.  We aren't done yet with the trees.  If you're looking for something to do, we'd love some help! (wink!)

There's still plenty of brush to haul and wood to cut and carry.

We sold some things we no longer need, and can use those funds for other things.  I took some books to the used book store for trade and used some of that credit to get a book I was interested in. Now I have credit sitting at two used book stores, which is nice!  Later in the week, we got this with some of the summer sale fund:

We paid $50 for this oak cabinet- score!

We transferred one of Husband's prescriptions to Kmart and got a $25 gift card.  I suspect this will be used to stock up on toilet paper.

In closing, I have a happy to share!  One of the branches in our library district asked me to present a program to teach people how to save on groceries.  I'm calling it Dinner on the Table for Pennies on the Dollar.  Catchy, yeah?  Who might be the title of an e-book some day......squee!


Sandra Girouard said...

Great list this week! Love the milk glass vase.

Mermie said...

I always love to read how things are going in your world. :)

momma-lana said...

I passed by Dunkin Donuts four times this week and did not stop for a frozen hot chocolate! :)

I am considering getting a Southwest Airlines Visa. If I charge $2000 in the first 3 billing cycles I will earn enough points for 2 round trip tickets. I would run household expenses and bills through it and pay it off at each bill. This would allow us to visit our son in Boston for really cheap next time.

I always enjoy reading your list. Have a good week!

Anne in the kitchen said...

Congratulations on posting the benefits of credit cards. We use ours for all of our monthly purchases, since we earn dollar for dollar sky miles. Our sons live in different cities on opposite sides of the U.S. Flying is our only option, so we covet any miles we can get. It is just critical to pay it off monthly to avoid finance charges. The card is a convenience not a green light for purchasing anything!

Laura said...

Anne, that's what we do too - we stick to the same budget we'd use with cash, we just 'run it through' the credit card for the reward. I completely agree with your assessment! :)

Laura said...

Well, I have to admit, I like the milk glass vases because I don't have to worry about the cloudiness that I sometimes get with clear glass. We have minerals in our water, so I got rid of all my clear ones a few years back and kept a few of the milk glass - it simplifies things a bit! :)

Thanks, Mermie! Love to you. :)

Momma-Lana, you made me laugh! I have only made the frozen hot chocolate 1 1/2 times, and I shared it with people both times too, but just knowing I can make it if I want to makes it impossible for me to think of paying $3something for it!

You have a good week too!

momma-lana said...

Every time I passed D Donuts last week I thought of you! I am eagerly awaiting my next birthday coupon! (May :( ) I won't pay $3 either!

Laura said...

Momma Lana, my birthday is May too, so it'll be a while for me as well. At least we have your recipe to fall back on! ;)

Sarah said...

We moved so I don't have green beans to can this year. However my neighbor gave me some so I took my little collection and canned them. I got four pints. Better than nothing I suppose. :-) I also had two bushel of peaches to put away so at least I feel a little more accomplished. :-)


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