Friday, March 28, 2014

Paying Attention

Today I wanted to talk about something that I have been encountering lately. 


{Paying Attention}


Okay so lately I have been encountering some interesting situations regarding money and paying attention.
 
I discovered that Smart and Final was having a really good deal on ground beef.  The sales flyer indicated that they were selling ground beef for only $1.99 per pound (sold in 5 pound tubes). 


They also had a few items that were priced really good.  (I also needed to do some grocery shopping as we didn't have much left in the house.)  I went to Smart and Final and decided to stock up on the ground beef.  While there I discovered that they were having a really great frozen food deal.  When spending $40.00 worth in certain frozen foods, you receive a $10.00 off coupon for your next shopping endeavor.  I had budgeted $150.00 for grocery shopping there. 


The great thing about Smart and Final is they typically sell things in bulk, resulting in such great prices. 


I shopped and found some really great looking chicken wings sold in huge backs for roughly $15.00, which were included in the frozen food deal.  I decided to buy 3 bags of chicken wings: (2) buffalo chicken flavored and (1) tequila lime flavored.  I have to admit, just looking at the bags alone started making me drool. 


I had a cart full of food that I had mentally added up the totals for.  I was just at $150.00.  Well, wouldn't you know it- we get to the register and the register rang up at $167.00.  There was a line behind me and I figured I must have added wrong while shopping.  The kids and I collected our food, put it in the truck, got home and started putting everything away.  For some reason, I decided to look at the receipt.  Then it dawned on me!  THE EMPLOYEE RANG ME UP FOR 4 BAGS OF WINGS INSTEAD OF THE 3 I HAD PURCHASED!!!  I even went to the freezer to make sure an additional bag of wings didn't magically hop into my cart while shopping.  Sure enough as I knew, there were only 3 bags of wings. 


Now you have to know that I don't live near Smart and Final so driving all the way back and forth would have been a waste of that much money in gas alone.  But I learned a valuable lesson the hard way: PAY ATTENTION WHEN SHOPPING


Next, I got my water bill.  It said I was past due and owed all this in fees in addition to the totals for both months.  Now you have to know, I got really organized with my bills and have made a special effort to pay all the utilities on time, keeping organized with the organizers I bought mentioned in this post.  Typically I just pay whatever the bill says and be done with it.  However, I knew I had already paid this and had kept the receipt in the organizer. 


I ran hobbled with my gimpy foot and back to the organizer to make sure I hadn't accidentally overlooked this and discovered that I had, in fact, paid the bill before it was even due.  It was after hours for the utility company, so I couldn't call them right then.  I did call them the next business day and went over it all with the customer service representative.  Even though I had paid my bill on the 7th of the month through Wal-Mart, the utility company didn't receive it from them for another 7 days.  I explained to her how I had the receipt and she said it didn't matter.  She explained that Wal-Mart is a 3rd party and since I didn't pay it to the utility company directly, I would receive the late fees.  I kindly asked if she could waive it this one time, and I guess she was feeling generous.  She did decide to waive it this one time.  Everything got worked out in the end, but yes I learned a lesson: PAY ATTENTION ON YOUR UTILITY BILLS AND KEEP ORGANIZED


The day before yesterday I checked the bill and received my mortgage statement.  There on my mortgage statement it stated that my previous monthly mortgage payment had not been paid and that I owed about $1,400.00 (for both months) plus late fees.  I was astonished!  I am on a special program currently that is assisting with the mortgage, with me paying a low portion of it.  I am required to send the program my portion and in turn, the program pays my mortgage provider.  I was freaked out!  How on earth was this not paid?  Why was this outstanding?  I have never once been late on my mortgage and here I am late.  Was this going to ding my credit?  Ugggg.  Typically, I don't even open my mortgage statement because it is ALWAYS the same amount due.  Upon extreme investigation with the program and with my mortgage company, it was discovered that it was paid and I had nothing to worry about.  But had I not raised a stink and had them investigate it, it would have been an issue.  Again learning a lesson: PAY ATTENTION AND OPEN ALL YOUR BILLS, PAYING SPECIAL ATTENTION TO EVERY LINE ITEM



Thursday, March 6, 2014

In Simple Things, Let There Be Joy and Contentment

What kind of person are you?  No, this is not a trick question.  I am seriously asking a simple question.  Okay, so maybe it isn't that simple.  There could be so many different answers to a "simple" question like that right? 


Are you a simple person? 


Or are you complex?


Do you have to have "things" to make you happy?  Or are you easily content with simple things? 


I was thinking about that today.  I think it is so funny how society thrives on the things they are able to buy and have.  Yes, we all can get caught up in that kind of thinking.  It isn't that hard. 


Lately, it keeps coming to my mind how I am easily joyed by the little things. 


This morning I was in soooo much pain after a chiropractor appointment last night.  I am talking, couldn't even get out of bed kind of pain.  It hurt to move anything.  I started tearing up.  I was feeling miserable.  Do I get ready for work?  Do I call in? 


I was just feeling so crappy and then decided I should get ready.  However, it dawned on me that it was school picture day and I should better focus on making my kids look nice.  I had them hurry and get dressed while I did their hair and made sure they looked nice. 


I looked at both of them and realized they were both looking so dang nice! 


Funniest part? Both were dressed in thrift store clothing and looking great!  They chose the outfits themselves. 

 
It got me thinking how simple things for us bring joy. We are more than happy and content with thrift store clothing. In fact, we prefer them. Cheaper, name brand, and better. 

We are happy cooking at home and eating. We 
are content eating the foods we can find on sale. Eating out isn't what makes us happy. I mean granted, yes the occasion of eating out is nice and fun. 

But I see too often families with kids who are ungrateful with foods their parents make, resulting in fits over going out to eat. They whine. They cry. They refuse to eat. 

Parents give in and take them where they want all the time. 

However, for us we are happy and content eating at home. 

It really is the little things. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today's Yummy Leftover Joy

It's lunchtime around these parts!

On my continued quest to save money, here I sit with a yummy, tasty lunch. Yes, I could have ordered take-out, fast food, ate out at a restaurant close to work.

I could have battled traffic, dealt with servers, wasted gas, partaken in a number of options for food. I could have done a lot of things resulting in spending a good chunk of change.

However, here I sit at working eating delicious food that I made last night.

I made this amazing garlic parmesan chicken, accompanied by beans and rice, mac and cheese and green beans! Are your mouths watering yet?

Surprisingly it all tastes better today than I remember last night. Mmmmm

Know the best part? The chicken was on sale for only 89 cents a pound at Food 4 Less. Woot woot!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sassy's Budgeting Tools

Well, I finally did it!

I FINALLY got my butt in gear about finding a good budgeting plan together.
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning in Vegas. And I was kid-free! Let me say it now, that NEVER happens!

Oh all the possibilities for "me time"! A pedicure?  A nice breakfast? Shopping? Sleeping? Cleaning? Going through the garage?

Not even close!

I found myself driving to Walmart in the office supply area. I thoroughly searched every nook and cranny. I searched and kept going through each and EVERY aisle of office supplies figuring out the best way to do this.

I was determined to find me the supplies to establish a bill paying system, budgeting tools and everything wrapped into one.

I could buy plain envelopes and follow the Dave Ramsey system I keep stumbling across. But that wasn't the best thing that would work for me.

I could have bought a simple planner or an elaborate one but that wasn't what was going to work for me.

I saw those accordion style organizers but they were made of really flimsy plastic material. I am talking about extremely thin plastic that I knew wouldn't hold up for very long. And even that was $6.00. You could tell it was pointless in buying it. Talk about cheapo! Then I thought if I could find like a cardboard material accordion organizer it would be perfect. Sadly, they had one and it just didn't look like what I was looking for. No, I don't think I am that picky.

Then I had the best idea! I wanted to get a cute decorated binder. Inside I would put those dividers that have the half clear envelope type thing on them, but sadly I discovered the hard way that they didn't even have them! How freaking dumb. They had regular dividers but that wasn't how I wanted to do it.

Hard to admit to you all that I spent about an hour in that damn store on a Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly. An hour!  Walmart on Saturdays are insane. It was obvious that it's tax return time. People buying brand new bikes for all their kids (literally saw a family with 3 bikes in tow with their kids), flat screen tvs everywhere in line, home decor items overflowing shopping carts, kids getting all kinds of brand new shiny toys, and sooooo many other tax return time evidence everywhere.
Sadly, I left Walmart empty handed even after spending a good hour there. *Insert sad, frustrated face here

I contemplated going to Office Max or Office Depot. I thought they for sure would have what I was looking for.

But I was pretty frustrated after wasting all that time. I was also thinking Saturday shopping anywhere would be too busy and irritating. Not to mention the fact that with my cane and walking boot, it honestly doesn't make for the best experience walking the stores shopping. To put it simply, I am constantly in pain! That hour alone sure took it out of me physically.

I ended up going home and taking a good nap.

After waking up, a friend and I went to dinner. I love good Mexican restaurants. It was mighty tasty.
On the way back home, I decided to stop in the dollar store on my continued quest for my budgeting items.

I found the best stuff there!

Say hello to my little friends!




So the little note book I will use to write down my spending.  Can't beat a dollar! 

Then the cute, trendy organizers I will do the following:

In one I will use cash and divide things up, writing on the included little dividers.

The other I will use to separate the pending bills and the paid bills (by month). 

There are 6 dividers in it.  I actually think I am going to go get one more to do it by month for the whole year! 





These will work perfectly and will be much easier to use, plus they are really thick plastic and NOT flimsy.
 The ones on the left are pending payment. 
The one of the right was paid on Saturday. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

99 Cents Only Store Love

Well, after work before a chiropractor appointment, I stopped in to the 99 Cents Only Store.

Have you ever shopped there for food? Let me tell you right now, there are some GREAT deals to be had from there!

With this store, it's hit or miss at times.

Today I found such great things for super cheap.
So here's what I scored today:

 The expensive Lunchables with Smoothies and Larry the Cable Guy Spicy Chicken Batter

Fudge Mint Cookie Squares that seriously taste JUST like those Girl Scout Thin Mints
And don't forget the yummy Peanut Butter & Fudge Cookie Squares
 
Taco Bell Cinnamon Nachos Dessert Kit
Taco Bell Crunch Taco Dinner Kits (They include sauce, seasonings and the hard shells)
 
Betty Crocker Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
South Beach Diet Fudge Mint Snack Bars
Organic Spinach Blend 
 
Captain Crunch Cereal (Halloween Crunch)
(I know it is not Halloween but these babies don't expire until June)
 

Velveeta Brand Cheesy Skillets (just like Hamburger Helper but much better, not to mention MUCH bigger than the Hamburger Helper)
 
Old El Paso Chipotle Mexican Cooking Sauce (I got some for Fajitas and some for Tacos)
Buddy Bars (Chocolate- my friend )
Tortillas
Cracker Jack (Pretty big bags) 
 

The Whole LOT! 

I spent roughly $48.00. 

That is a steal for everything I got.  I think I will have to start pricing these items out at the regular stores to see how much I ended up saving.   

But a lady behind me at the store couldn't believe my total.  The whole cart was full of food, and when the cashier announced the total she got all excited.  I, too, was excited.  I just love stretching my grocery money. 

Stay tuned for more shopping hauls in the near future. 

Save Money- Bring Lunch to Work

It's lunchtime at the office, and I am enjoying some yummy leftovers from 2 nights ago.

I made this delicious Chicken Alfredo with mushrooms. It is super yummy! Much better than eating out.

Eating out adds up more and more. No, it's not just the cost of fast food or restaurant meals. Don't forget the cost of gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, dealing with stupid traffic and so many other things.

Not to mention, I actually know what is in the food I brought. I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I just don't trust fast food workers. You never know.

I have noticed recently such substantial price increases at fast food joints, too.

I am working on saving money and being frugal. My year of unemployment sure didn't help on my pocketbook.

Looking to save money and work on your finances? Ditch the take out! Bring food to work for lunch. Bring leftovers!  They are super cheap and yummy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hard Chicken Tacos

So, my kids have been begging me to make homemade chicken fried rice.

I, being the great mommy I am, finally (after much longer than I would care to admit) got chicken out of the freezer to defrost this morning before work.

I was determined to be such a great mom and make chicken fried rice after work. All day at work I thought about it. I was actually quite excited!

Then this evening on a whim, we decided to go see my cousin's new baby.



He was super cute! Don't you agree? 


After getting home so late this evening, I realized I would not have the time for chicken fried rice. (No, I didn't have any rice already made and I prefer having the regular rice cooking in the rice cooker vs that boxed minute rice.)

So as I got home, I had to think of what to make instead. My creative wheels started turning. Hmmm, what on earth could I make?

I thought about the things I had already in the house. There was no way in the world I was running to the store.

I ended up making a chicken taco mixture that was to die for!

It was simply chicken breast, black beans, taco seasoning, diced green chiles and a little bit of water simmering on the stove topped with cheese. This wonderful concoction was put inside hard taco shells. Then we topped them with Taco Bell brand hot sauce and guacamole.

Are your mouths watering yet? Let me tell you guys- it was seriously divine! The kids completely gobbled it down (who am I trying to kid? So did I!)

It was sooooo delicious. This will definitely be on our dinner menus in the near future.