Saturday shopping trip(s)

I have been shopping before. Of course. And you know this because I have written before about how I went here or there. But I have NEVER went shopping like I did today.

The little “O” and I left the house at 0930 hours this morning. We didn’t get back until almost 1500 hours, or 3 PM for you civilians out there. 🙂

This is out of character. Before, if I were going grocery shopping, I would go to one store and that would be the end of that. But with this new path that we are taking – multiple stores had to be “hit”.

We started by going to the bank to make a deposit, get a money order to pay the rent, and get $50 in quarters so I can do laundry for the month of May. (Yes, I find it so humorous that not only do we own 2 washers and dryers with one set being HERE at the Apartment with us – there are NO washer/dryer hookups so I am forced to PAY to do my laundry. Oh the irony. The other set is at one of the houses.)

Then we went to Target (again – because I really love Target!). A good friend of mine is having a baby, and Target was having a deal where if you bought 3 packages of Huggies for $8.99, you got a $5 gift card. I found some printable Huggie’s coupons (2 for $3.00 off and 1 for $2.00 off), so I got the three packs, used the coupons, got my $5 gift card and have a gift for her. I know this goes against if it isn’t a necessity deal – but we have revisited that issue and have budgeted in a few “perks”. Being able to give gifts for special occassions counts as a perk.

Got a few more things at Target (everything had a coupon – so even if it isn’t the ROCK BOTTOM price, I am still doing better than I was!).

Then we went to the mall. Oh the mall. I have a love/mainly hate relationship with the mall and all its pretty displays. But damnit, I had a coupon for a free pair of panties from Vickie’s and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste! Free (NEW) panties is not something that anyone should ever pass up! I also had a $10 off a bra coupon, so I did get a new bra (which I did kinda sorta need. Did I need a Vickie’s bra? No. But that’s what I got but I bought one that was on sale and used my coupon. Still going in the right direction…)

Then we stopped in at Payless cause the girls did need a new pair of shoes. They were having a BOGO sale, so each of them got one new pair.

Stopped into the Bath and Body Works store, looked around, saw a zillion things I wanted and walked out without buying anything. SCORE!

Then it was time for JC Penney’s. With Mother’s Day coming up, I needed to get something for my momma. There is a certain type of jewelry that they carry that I absolutely love to get her. Found a necklace that is in a weird circle shape that has inscribed around it “A mother holds her child’s hand but for a moment, but their hearts forever”. It was orginally like 151 bucks, but we got it for $35. (Sale!)

My oldest daughter just keeps growing, so while at Penney’s we also got her a pair of shorts, a tank top, and a summer top. Total cost for all three items? Like $22. Everything was sale (a deep sale from retail price) so, still moving in the right direction.

From there we went to the HyVee store and got our military appreciation card that gives us 5% off our purchases and used it for the items that were on the list from the sales ad. (Only bought the loss leaders)

Then it was time from Dillions (Kroger) to get the items on that list. I will not bore you with the total itemized list, but I will say that my receipt tells me I saved 35% off my bill. I was actually pretty excited about that because the highest I have ever had before today was like 20%.

So, all told here is how the day went:

Spent: $280.97

Saved: $ 277.84

I basically saved 50% off of what I brought home today. That feels great. But I was so tired after all the shopping that I needed a nap!

I am excited about getting the coupon inserts tomorrow and getting them all organized. I am excited about getting more for my money.

I am not excited that because I had to take a nap because I was so pooped out from all the shopping, that I am going to be up pretty late tonight finishing my final paper for my first Master’s class. Am excited that the class is finished on Monday and as of right now, I have a 97.50 average! YaY!

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Freedom!!!!!!!

I love my postman. I do. Today he brought me the paperwork releasing the lien on Mr. “O”‘s truck.

It is paid off. Early! (We used part of our tax return to just get it paid off. Yes, we had (and have) other debt as well, but paying off the truck and a few smaller bills gave us the most “bang” for our buck in freeing up money each month.)

Another wonderful thing that happened today? I paid all the bills for the month. Every. Single. One. I am amazed at this. For the last, what seems like forever, few months, I have been having to play it close to the due dates because of the ways we get paid. I didn’t have enough money all on the 1st of the month to pay everything. To do that today – to know that everything is paid and everything else that comes in this month can go towards our GOALS – its an amazing feeling. We still have debts – but there is an actual feeling of hope instead of staying up all night trying to figure out how to make everything happen.

The next debt that has the laser sight pointed to it? Military STAR.

Current Balance: $2490.12.

Our goal is to have this debt down to $1700 by the end of the month.

I like having goals. They make me work harder!

Using Coupons

Today I went on two separate shopping trips with the same idea in mind: Buy items we actually USE that were on (what I consider) serious sale – or that were on sale and that I had a coupon for.

I do have a coupon binder. If you are  interested in an awesome free PDF download to help with starting your own coupon binder or assist in organizing your coupon binder, I suggest going here to “The Krazy Coupon Lady” site. If you scroll down the page, on the right hand side, you will find the free PDF downloadables. They are what I use for my own coupon binder and highly recommend them – but only if that type of organization works for you! (If the system you use doesn’t work for YOU, then what’t the point?)

First I went to Rays Applemart because they have Coca-Cola on sale for .88 a 2 liter. I am an avid coke drinker. 88 cents drew me into the store. I also recently discovered that if you are Active-Duty, Reservve, National Guard or a dependent, you can get a “military appreciation” card and save 5% on your entire purchase, EVERY time you buy something. So, before I even walked down the aisles I went straight to customer service to get my card.

I ended up getting:

4 packs of Eggo frozen pancakes (buttermilk, Strawberry, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip),10 2 liters of Coca Cola (I was originally going to get 20 bottles, but that would have emptied the shelf. The sale is going on until next Tuesday, I can always go back),6 12-packs of Best Choice Cola (Lemon-Lime – kids like lemon lime),4 bottles of ketchup,1 Loaf of French Bread,1 Pack of lunch meat for $38.52. I am pretty happy with that purchase.

Second stop was to Target. I am not going to bore you with all the details of my Target trip, but I will say that I saved $21 and walked out the store spending less than $43 AND they gave ME a $5.00 gift card that I can use next time I go! (The gift card is for a special they have right now – buy three boxes of certain feminine care products, get a $5 gift card. If you use those products, nothing wrong with buying three boxes of them. They aren’t going to go bad! – Plus, I had three coupons for $1 off that I could use – lowering the cost of the three items and STILL getting me the gift card!) I mainly got tolietry items and 4 packs of Mr. “O”‘s favorite type of chewing gum (because between coupons they went from $1.27 a pack to .27 a pack) but the point is, all the items were items we will use, that were on sale, and had some type of coupon.

I have two more trips to make – one to HyVee (which I also hear does the 5% off for military families) and another to Dillions (Kroger). Planned expenditures at HyVee is $20 (they are having a pretty good TP sale! Charmin – 20 double rolls for $5.99!) and planned expenditures at Dillions is $75.

The key to all of this, for me, is that I have a plan. I looked at the flyers. I decided what I wanted to buy from those sale items this week. I looked through my coupon binder to make the prices lower. I made a spreadsheet that has all 4 stores which lists the Item, price, quantity I want to buy, coupon amount and the total price for each store. Staying focused and disciplined and sticking to MY plan and not getting sidetracked worked. I spent exactly what I thought I was going to spend when I walked into the store. Sure, it took some time to get everything organized, but the savings will be worth it to my family.

Imagine how much money I am really going to save when I get the discipline to quit drinking Coca Cola!

Deciding on a new path….

Chosing a new path can be filled with MUCH anxiety. The current path, even with its twists and turns, is comfortable. You already understand it. There are no real suprises. And, let’s face it, the less “excitement” there is on your path is less chance for something “worse” happening.

But no one remembered in history is remembered because they took the safe, known path. There is a reason we call them “Trailblazers”.

My family can continue the way it has been for years (with minor, quirky changes such as the kids do grow up, much to my dismay, so there are those types of changes – or that because we have been a military family we have moved from one place to another) or we can make choices today that could have potentially awesome rewards for tomorrow.

Or possible meltdowns.

One thing is for certain – without taking the risks, we can never reap the rewards.

Over the course of the next few months, we are going to be feeling the overwhelming panic and anxiety that occurs when you change lifestyle patterns – even if they are just a little at a time. Being Obsessive, I will probably go overboard on each modification, driving everyone bonkers. The children will really start to value those big boxes that come from grandma filled with clothes – because unless it is food, gasoline, or another necessity that I have no choice in paying – it ain’t happening. (Except for my internet and netflix. I’ll be damned!)

Retirement seemed forever ago, well, forever ago. Now that it is looming for my husband, the breadwinner of our family, in just a short 18 months, we are realizing how ill prepared we truly are for the impending change. Yes, we have saved money in TSP’s and IRA’s – but he is retiring at 38. Not like we can touch any of that without a HUGE penality, and even if we did, what would we do at 65 (or whatever they change the retirement age to)?

Oh – I realize that I am going to have to go shopping eventually. I also realize that I am going to have to rethink what a Mrs. “O” price to pay for an item actually is.

I’ve always had a stockpile – I remember not having enough money to buy more than one week’s worth of grocery that had to last two. That experience taught me to always have ample storage of food in the house. But coupons? Or only shopping when things are on sale?

Never had the patience.

I am going to have to learn that patience is, indeed, a virtue. Sales flyers and coupons, here I come.

I don’t envision coming away with $1,000 of groceries for $2. But every bit I save is money that we can have put away for the new path that we will be taking here in 18 months.

A path that, with a little planning, can lead to huge rewards for my family. Giving us the flexibility to do the things we want to do without debt hanging over our heads. The ability to take that job we absolutely love without the fear of how the pay won’t pay the rent, much less the electricity.

A life of freedom.

Invisible Furniture

Do you ever feel like everyone can see right through you? And I don’t mean in the “everyone knows what you are thinking and feeling”  kind of way – but in the “you may be in the room but you are more like a piece of furniture” kind of way. 

We’ve all done it – after months, or even years, rearranged our living rooms (or any other room in our house) and when we are finished it looks so… so… DIFFERENT! Sometimes its looks bigger, other times it looks smaller or maybe it looks darker, or perhaps it looks brighter. We are so pleased with our hard work and how we have made our living space so much more – US.

Until its the middle of the night and we have to walk through the room that our brains are no longer trained to walk through and end up stubbing our toes and bruising our shins and even, at times, falling straight over the sofa. (Whose bright idea was it to put the sofa right at the entrance of a room, anyway?)

That’s the thing. Until we changed things around, it was all a bit invisible. Sure, we saw it. We knew it was there. We took for granted that when we flopped down in that spot – the chair would actually be there.

After the change, we notice things we never did before. Exactly how did that red kool-aid stain get UNDER the 500 pound entertainment center that takes 4 grown men to move?

I am willing to bet there are people in your life who are like those “invisible” pieces of furniture. You just simply expect them to be the last place you left them.

But what happens when they move themselves around?

Be mindful to pay attention to how that favorite table is moving an inch or two at a time out of its setting.

 If you don’t, be prepared to stub your toes or worse.

Financial Goals

Do you have financial goals? I don’t mean the “I want to be a millionaire” statement – because let’s face it, other than the tax issue, we would all pretty much like to be millionaires.

My biggest issue with the financial goals is that there are SO MANY THINGS we are trying to accomplish at once!

We have some debt that we are paying off – (Used the tax return to get rid of the truck note and 5 of the smaller bills).

We want to save some money due to the retirement coming up in the next 18 months.

But even with those two BIG numbers staring us in the face, there is no way I can get my husband on the “beans and rice, rice and beans” plan.

I have a budget spreadsheet. I can tell you where every penny has gone and where every penny should go from 5 years ago to the end of the this year.

I just have a hard time wrapping my head around how to prioritize whats the most important. For me, it is getting rid of all the debt. For my husband, its saving money. We have come to a compromise to do the same amount of money to savings and debt payment (compromise, right?)

But the timelines are driving me crazy. (Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my best qualities?) I want the debt GONE. I want the saving THERE. And I want it all RIGHT NOW.

Urgh.

Anxiety

So, I ended up at the doctor’s office yesterday – mainly due to a pesky migraine that wasn’t going to go away on its own.

After about 3 hours of questions – (And I seriously mean that – there was absolutely NO WAITING at the hospital – the admin clerk checking me in didn’t even have my forms printed out before the nurse was escorting me to the back) – I left with less of a migraine (shots in the butt can help sometimes) as well as prescriptions for migraine medicine (which, if I take, makes me feel like my heart is about to explode. Serously), muscle relaxers (just in case its my muscles tensing up that could contribute to headaches) and Xanax. Because I seem to have an anxiety issue.

The three hour interrogation was really checking about my levels of anxiety. I never thought much about how I go grocery shopping or how I put items in the cart – but I guess the way I do it is OCD and caauses anxiety if anyone else touches my stuff or doesn’t do it my way. All these years I just though I liked for there to be a place for the milk to go at the end of the trip, without squishing everything else and without having to bend over to put it on the bottom cart shelf. NOPE! I have been suffering from anxiety MY WHOLE ADULT LIFE and NEVER EVEN KNEW!

Then the questions went onto my marriage and family life. Sure, I get anxiety over things in that area – doesn’t everyone? My husband is deployed – isn’t it normal to be freaked out about things? Congress almost didn’t pass a budget which would mean my family wouldn’t have had money to pay the rent, lights, water, gasoline, food or clothes – wouldn’t a normal person get upset about that prospect? Apparently not. A normal person would have just left it up to the moon to figure out a plan of action.

Which brought up the real issues. I am an incessant planner. My plans may not be perfect, but they are MY PLANS. I much go over each issue about a zillion times before I go forth with a desicion.

But not for everything. Nope. I really like that shirt? I just get it! I tell the doctor.

Then he asks me “How many hours did you spend looking through magazines, catalougues and online websites before you decided to go shopping?”

Crap! He got me! I can “window” shop from the comfort of my own home for WEEKS before I even step foot in the store – because the last thing I want to do is be in a store NOT KNOWING WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR!

Do I have anxiety? I would like to say that I am just a unque person with little quirks that make me who I am.

I guess after I see a neurologist we will have a better idea of where I am on the nueron ping scale.

In the meantime – Xanax. I will say that when I am on them (or when they are affecting me) I am a much more emotional level person. I can also say that current dose is wearing off, and if ONE MORE NEIGHBORHOOD KID KNOCKS ON MY DOOR ASKING IF MY CHILDREN CAN PLAY – I might just lose it. Or take another Xanax. Not sure which one will happen first. 🙂

Hectic

Life has been hectic. (Isn’t it always)

Life has been disappointing. (It happens)

Life has kept me waiting. (Trying to teach me patience)

Life has brought suprises. (I love suprises! – as long as they are POSITIVE suprises!)

Only 2 weeks left of my first Master’s class. I have enjoyed the experience so far. Which is good – and it really hasn’t made life THAT much more hectic. Just requires a bit more planning to make sure I don’t waste away the time I do have to focus on my studies.

Trying to get promoted at work is going to be more difficult that anticipated. Not because I thought it would be easy – but because someone finally decided to tell me how the process works at this company. I will continue to strive for excellence – however, if greener pastures call, I may just have to go graze on them.

Mr. “O” is in limbo – is he staying? Is he coming home? He is coming home sooner than anticipated (YaY) but we have no idea exactly when that is (BOO!). The worst part is that he is over there with no mission right now – and sitting around is NOT his strong suit. And although I love my husband more than the sun, getting 0500 wake up calls (when I don’t get up until 0600) just because he is bored is starting to get, well, irritating. (I love you baby! You can call me whenever you want!)

We finally got our tax return! 4 days before the SECOND anticipation date the IRS gave us. (Yes. We filed on February 22nd. They couldn’t process our return because the software wasn’t set up to accept it. So we had to wait. And wait. And wait. But, we finally got it!)

Trying to get ‘Promoted’

So. Here’s the deal.

Mr. “O” can retire from the military pretty soon. Meaning, like in 18 months. We are pretty sure he is going to retire. Of course, that last *possible* rank that he could get, *if* he got promoted, would be pretty to have. I mean, Sergeant Major is nothing to joke about. It would also mean a bigger retirement check – after at least THREE more years of service. But, I think that he is really just ready to put his hat on the hook and leave it there. This family is pretty much just plain tired of deployments, field time, middle-of-the-night calls, early morning wake-ups (cause if HE has to be up at 0430, why shouldn’t we?) and the rest of the crap (political) that happens at the current level of rank.

This means that our income will go DOWN. DOWN. DOWN. Like “pants on the ground”. Heh. (I find it amusing, at least!)

Which means that *I* need to start looking to get promoted. Pay Raises. Nifty titles. I mean, I do, afterall, have an undergrad degree and I am working on a graduate degree. I should probably put it to good use.

Of course, this may not be the best time to look for promotions. Have you seen the economy? I don’t care what the “experts” say – I am a hiring manager right now and I can tell you that we are working with what we have because of sales. We have only added 9 positions since I started working for my company in September. Not a good time.

BUT! There are some promotional opportunities for me within my current organization – but it would mean moving. Before he gets back from deployment. And being seperated another 8-10 months after he returns before he can head on down to join us.

We have talked about it and have decided that I am going to throw my hat into the pool of applicants. Who knows, nothing may come of it at all. But hopefully, just maybe, I will outshine everyone else and get the promotional advancement. And the move. Plus the title. I really would love to have a title.

Calorie Counter

I bought myself a Heart Rate Monitor/Calorie Counter thing – and I don’t know if the calorie part is working. At least, I want to think it is not working. After an hour of Zumba (where most burn between 300-700 calories) I only managed to burn 97? Really? 97? I was sweating like a pig! Maybe I have already peaked with Zumba?

Which means I have to find something else. I would go for a nice litle jog, but it is 92 degrees outside right now. NINETY TWO DEGREES. Last week it was 30 something. This is ridiculous.

Other than that, got one paper down, about to complete the second one. Woot! Second class starts tomorrow – so I will have TWO classes going on at once. I sure hope I manage!

I talked to Mr. “O” this morning – it was awesome to see his beautiful face on the Skype. Would be better if he was actually here. *grumble*

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