Free Photobooks, Free Tshirt and Free Drama

I have acquired many Shutterfly 8x8 photobook codes for a free book ($29.95 value) that I most likely won't use, so I'm offering them up for my readers. If you want a code, let me know. It will cost $7.99 for shipping, so its not really free. The codes expire NOV 15th, so if you get some great Halloween pictures it might be something you want to make a book out of. You can email me HERE if you want a code.
There is also a new offer out there to to get a free Tshirt from Marlboro by signing up and logging in your account. Its something to do with make your own brand and you can design your own Tshirt logo using your initials. I made on for Scott using his favorite race car numbers rather than his initials, and it may be kind of dorky, but we always need shirts to do lawn work in. Besides next year I can wear it cause it'll be my age. That would be really cool to walk around in a dumb shirt with my age blazoned on the front. Oh well, a free shirt is a free shirt. Be fore warned to sign up you do need to provide your birth date and driver license number so they can verify you're old enough.
Now for the free drama. Actually, I hope the worst drama is behind us with the remodel. The plumbers picked up their check without ripping up the pipes so maybe they got over it. Scott is still really pissed and talks about doing mean things to them. I've just been posting negative reviews of their company and services on the internet. There are several sites that more informed consumers use in their project research so I'm hoping my experience will help others avoid dealing with the plumbers.

So the handyman has been working on the walls trying to put up the electric, fix the pipes that wouldn't fit behind the backer board cause the plumbers didn't really care what the hell they were doing on day 2 when they were goofing off. He's discovered something, that we figured was kind of weird when we were tearing down the walls - they're not square, or straight or anything having to with geometry, except maybe sin and cosine curves. Or maybe an arc cosine curve too. When we were hammering the tile and concrete we noticed that in some areas the walls were 1" thick concrete, other areas were 1/2" thick and some were much thicker, maybe 2" or more. Well, that made it easier for the original installation of the tile walls so that the tile would appear to be flat on the walls. It was flat on the concrete but not the walls. The poor handyman now is going crazy trying to get the walls level in preparation to lay tile. They are really groovy walls, with lots of variance. I guess these old houses didn't need to worry about flat, straight, square walls since none of the walls have drywall, they're all stucco.
We're thinking more these days about when to tear into bathroom number 2. Its a bit of a dilemma since both share a common groovy wall, and on one side will be the brand new tile and grout of the tub area, and on the other is the old tile wall and shower wall - both of which need to come down under the force of the rotary hammer and sledge hammer. Scott has lots of power, and if he thinks about the a$$hole plumbers when he's smashing walls, he'll probably break right through the old wall and the new wall Seriously though, we need to remove the old tile before putting grout on the new tile on the other side of the wall, otherwise we'll ruin the new wall. That means..... we need to probably take showers in a plastic bag type enclosure in a demolished room, at least for a couple days. Doesn't that sound fun
I know we've deprived you all of seeing pictures of this project but its really not that pleasing to look at. It looks like crap. And it upsets me to see things while they're "in process" between destruction and completion. I remember years ago when my 1988 Hyundai  had a bike rack on top with bikes and we were at a dealership in Indiana, when they drove my car through the garage and ripped the bike rack and bikes off the top of the car. When we got back home and it was being repaired at the dealership, I stopped by since it was taking so long and they showed me the car as they were working on it and I almost fainted. I started crying and moaning and became inconsolable at the state of my car. They had the top half of the car cut apart and peeled back like it had been through the jaws of life. The velour covered seats had welding burn holes all over them and their was metal shavings all over the car. The car was less than a year old and it was trash. But, I got it back and everything was like new, but I'll never get that picture out of my mind how destroyed it was.
So I haven't really taken any pictures of our progress. The room doesn't have electric hooked up so there is no light. I try to just walk down the hall fast and not look in that room. It kind of upsets me to see it destroyed. This weekend we'll put the door back in place and close it so I don't have to see it. Its been only 3 weeks and I'm over it, I just want it done, but that's not happening for a long time. Meanwhile, I just try to pretend in my mind, its all good .

Relationships Lost by Being Frugal

Presently we are remodeling our bathrooms and plan to also do the kitchen. A couple weeks ago while removing the bathtub I broke a water line which required emergency repair from the plumbers. We called them and they came out pretty quick (within 3 hours) on a Saturday, and fixed the water break. We also discussed re-piping the house since all the 50 year old water lines were patched and possible breaks in the future. So the last ten days have been taken up dealing with estimates, preparation, shopping and decisions about the re-pipe job. Its finally over and done, but it was a negative experience.
I can't help but wonder if we brought it on by being frugal. We felt it would be a pretty easy job for the plumbers since a newer main water line was already to the house. We offered to dig a trench and lay new cpvc around the perimeter to save them time and to save us money. I didn't really like the idea of busting through terrazzo floor slab and stucco walls and having a water line in our closets. We have enough problems keeping them mold free. So we dug up a trench and laid the pipe to the back of  the house. We also bought our own bathtub valves and shower valves so they match, and to save us from the 3x markup on parts that plumbers typically do. So basically, all they provided was labor for 11 hours and lots of pvc and elbow joints, a few shut off valves for sinks and toilets.
To make a long story short, they finished most of the job in 2 days and tied in the new pipes. So to save money, we told them we would take care of installing the bathroom valves so they could consider the job wrapped up, please give us a bill. We figured at $85/hr we were in for just over $1000 for labor and the parts at worst couldn't be more than $500, so we calculated about half of the estimate. Boy were we out in left field. The plumbers expected labor of 15 hours to include the time for giving us an estimate, shopping for parts, and driving to our house. They wanted close to $1000 for parts.
Well, we were not pleased to be f**ked like this. We told them our expectation and asked them to explain theirs. It got ugly with raised voices, arguing and bullying from the plumber and hostility. They turned it into a totally unprofessional situation, where we just gave in rather than argue with this man. We decided on a number in the middle of the final quote and higher than our expectation, but a liveable price. We felt we were being more than fair, but this man wanted to screw us.
The unpleasantness of  this situation is that we've used these plumbers for almost ten years, as do our neighbors who recommended them to us. The plumber does business with our neighbor who is in the AC business. They are our best neighbors who watch our house, lend us their truck, invite us for holidays, watch our dog when we're away, make us great food and in general are great people. It hurts to know they may be offended if they find out how this deal all turned out. I'm not going to get into the drama with them, but the plumber might say something about how we're cheap a$$holes or something.
It's a tough situation to be in when you know you are being unfairly charged for a product or service and its not by mistake. What do you do? Risk the relationship to settle the difference, or just pay it to keep peace. I know we have sometimes forgiven crappy cold chicken wings at our favorite bar and grill, because we go there often and don't want to be known as the complainers. We also have paid more for a service when we have no other choices, or it would cost more to start over.
So in our short 3 week time span, this is the second vendor we have pissed off who probably won't deal with us anymore than we would deal with them, just because of price. First the trash haulers who wanted double what they agreed to, and now the plumber who finished the job in half the time quoted (due to our prep and assistance on the job) but wanted the full price. Hope it doesn't happen again. At least our handyman is a good guy who's honest, forthright and reasonable.

U2 on YouTube

In case you decided to skip the madness of the Tampa Concert, or perhaps they are not playing in your city for this tour, you can watch the Saturday night concert from California live on your laptop in the comfort of your own backyard.
U2 will stream an entire concert live on the YouTube video sharing site this weekend, the Irish band said on their website. Sunday's show at the Rose Bowl in California is already a sellout, with an audience of 96,000 expected, and U2 said it would be the first time for such a large show to be streamed live.
"The band has wanted to do something like this for a long time," said manager Paul McGuinness in a statement.
"As we're filming the LA show, it's the perfect opportunity to extend the party beyond the stadium. Fans often travel long distances to come to see U2 -- this time U2 can go to them, globally."
Google Inc's YouTube will stream the concert across five continents, and two replays will be available after the live feed -- on and YouTube.
The band behind hits like "Beautiful Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" kicked off the U2 360 Tour in Barcelona in June and has boasted high attendances by using a circular platform that can be viewed from all sides of arena.
YouTube has had an uneasy relationship with the record industry in recent years, with labels arguing that popular social networking and online video sites should pay them more for the right to feature their artists.
At the same time they recognize the importance of maintaining their presence on sites that help shape young fans' musical tastes.

A Little More Progress

Well you all know we've been remodeling our bathroom, gutted the walls to the studs - only to find we hardly have any studs on the main wall between bathrooms. We've had so many leaks over the years, that it's time for the re-plumbing of our water lines. Unfortunately this makes our $5000 project closer to a $10000 project. The costs are raising everyday that the handyman comes, or we go to the store to get pvc, or valves, or order cabinets.
We kind of had a ballpark budget of $5000 for each bathroom, hoping we could actually do both with just 5K. That obviously is not going to happen since the re-plumb will add close to 3K. We've ordered or purchased all the supplies except paint, and lighting for each bathroom, and tile for the shower - so hopefully that won't be more than a couple hundred. We still have a lot of labor to pay for so I'm keeping an eye on it.
We got the ceiling re-done yesterday, getting rid of the 50 year old exhaust fan and a heater coil. I can't imagine what they were thinking when they build the house and thought Gee, its cold after a shower or bath, lets install a heater?? When we bought the house 15 years ago, we were kind of scared of using the heater, afraid it would burn the house down. I'll be glad they're gone. So we have a new skylight and new exhaust fan thats installed.
This weekend we'll lay pipe to bring the water line to the house, to save the plumbers the effort of digging a water line. Hopefully it'll save us on the re-plumb too. Since the re-plumb has been delayed a week, we've taken the time to shop for things and run other errands, plus go for a walk to Busch Gardens one day. Last night I had a good shop at Publix and spent $34 OOP with a savings of $152 (81%). The lady behind us in line was impressed and asked how we did that. She said she cut coupons but never remembered them or could find them a deal. She thought she was doing good with BIGI deals. I told her to go to my favorite website to see the matchups and coupon links to print from there. But if you want coupons, you can click on the banner ad above too.

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Venom Coupon

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Craigslist works wonders

We're on our way to a new bathroom with the room gutted down to the studs and the fixtures removed. We now decided we might as well replace the old bath tub with a new one since it would be the only old thing in the room. Plus this is the only opportunity EVER to do it. More shopping tonight to get a new tub and then tomorrow replace it in the bathroom.

One of the unpleasant tasks of remodeling is getting rid of the old construction debris from the teardown. First we thought about the FREE way to deal with it was to bring it to the dump, but that involves more handling and time and getting a friend who lives in unincorporated county to come along for the proof of the tax payment. Even though it would be cheap, it would be a hassle. We told our neighbor about all our junk and he offered his truck to have us load the truck and dump it at his works dumpster, but that too would be a hassle. We already have a lot of errands, clean out tasks, tear down and other jobs associated with the project. So, we took a picture of the junk and put it out there on Craigslist for our town and placed a WANTED ad to haul away our construction debris for fifty bucks. Man o man, I feel like I was too generous. I had 7 calls within an hour, and finally pulled the ad. I also put an ad out there for a FREE Bathtub, and got 3 calls within a couple minutes. I pulled that ad too shortly thereafter.
So after work today, a guy is coming to pick up the trash for fifty bucks and another guy is coming in the morning to get the tub. Problem solved.


Last week we finally met with the contractor that a friend referred to do our bathroom remodel project. We live in a very old house built in 1955, and the bathroom needs some updating. Everything is functional, but aged, and its not that big of a room just five by seven We wanted to gut it and put in new tile in the tub, on the floor and get new fixtures and cabinets. One quote we got to do this on both bathrooms was $6500 each for a total of $13000. I was like, how much? For two weeks of work, you want $13K? NOT.
We decided we wanted to minimize the costs by doing the tear down and disposal of scrap ourselves. We also wanted someone who would be willing to work with us and let us do the simple stuff like hook up the sinks, nail the cabinets to the wall, paint, etc. It was important to us that the contractor agree to work by the hour too. So we met with the guy and he looked at our bathroom and we discussed us doing tear down, and him do the buildup. So it looks like it will cost us less than $1000 in labor for one bathroom.
So on the weekend, he lent us his rotary hammer to tear out the old wall tiles and concrete. What a job! Its dusty and a work out for the arms and shoulders. We're both achy this morning and sore and tired. We still have more to do.
So that is the priority in our frugal life these days, meaning cut backs to extracurricular work like concerts. Bare minimum of couponing, and focus on eating out of the stockpile.

Get Paid To Do What You Want

I think I've mentioned before that we have a busy October month ahead of us, and it just became a little busier since we signed up to work at Raymond James Stadium for the U2 concert coming up October 9th. One of the reasons we have a busy month ahead is because there are a lot of entertainment venues and events that we like to attend, and we are GETTING PAID to go. How, you many ask?
Years ago, we were given the opportunity to volunteer as ushers at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, and it meant we got to see the game for free. We thought it was a fun experience talking to Wisconsin Badger fans and enjoying the afternoon outside on a beautiful New Years Day in Tampa. We also talked to other staff there and found out that many were employed by Sentry Event Services and made about $8/hr to watch the football game. We also learned that Sentry did event staff and security for the concerts at the Ford Amphitheatre and Tropicana Field for baseball games. This was a great opportunity for us both to attend entertainment events, and get paid. Usually a show is about 5 or 6 hours of standing around, so about $48 each of us, so we bring home close to $100 for every event we work. We were hired in 2004 and have worked about 30-40 events each year since.
But, Sentry Events doesn't staff events at the St Pete Times Forum which hosts indoor concerts, hockey games, basketball games, the circus and skating shows like Disney on Ice. So we marched down there and applied so we also get paid to attend events we want there too. The pay isn't as good, but it still brings in $75 to $90 per evening, and the work is a lot simpler, since we are just guest services, rather than security staff.
So between the Forum and Sentry, we are both working 6 events this month that we would like to attend, and will bring home close to $500 rather than spending it on the ticket prices. Its a good gig if you are healthy and can stand for up to 6 hours and you enjoy being around crowded events and people. We've been working shows and sports events for over 5 years now and the savings in ticket prices and entertainment dollars is significant. If there is a show we really, really want to have fun at with drinking and partying, then we spring for a ticket. We have often purchased tickets for high demand shows knowing we can double or triple our money on Stub Hub selling the tickets, then we just sign up to work. If the tickets don't sell (which hasn't happened yet...) then we just would plan to attend rather than work a show.
So, if you're looking for a way to attend those football games, concerts, baseball games, contact your local venue and ask who does the staffing for guest services and security, its usually contracted out so its not necessarily the venue that employees you.

It's Not That Hard, Is It?

This weekend I passed along some coupons to a friend who had mentioned needing some razors. In fact, they use Schick Quattro and I  happened to have multiples of a $4 off MQ and a matching $4 off Target coupon, making the $7.94 razor free. I cautioned how they have to take these coupons and get the deal at Target since it is a Target coupon, and they would need to tell the cashier to do a "manual adjustment" since  there was a 0.06 overage that Target registers kick out. 
Well today I followed up with that person to find out if they got the free razors. He said they still seemed kind of expensive. I said how, they were free. Well, turns out they didn't go to Target, they went to some drugstore. Target was too far away, like a couple miles. Anyway, of course the drugstore wouldn't take the Target coupon! Duh. I'm sure the price was higher too. Oh but they took the $4 coupon.
I couldn't believe it. I try to help people understand couponing and show them matchups, do the deals first myself, so I can tell them what to expect, and they still either don't listen, think it doesn't matter where you go, or they just aren't that bright. It's not that hard is it? Are we all genius's who can figure out how to match up and stack coupons with store sales? I don't think it's that complicated, but it does take some practice and to start out with simple one item deals to make sure everything works out as planned.  But I wish I knew an easy way to share the coupon love, because I don't have the time to go shopping with everyone to train them in. I generally refuse to cut coupons for others too, since the ways I get them are accessible to all others.  They can print their own, and get extra inserts, and of course scan store aisles for blinkies and peelies and booklets.
So this friend wants me to teach a coupon class to a bunch of ladies in her neighborhood. I would love to do it and plan to do it. But since I need to figure out a way to simplify the process. I just hate to feel responsible for people who don't catch on, and they end up spending money they intended to save. There are many deals that I would never do if it weren't for the cheap cost with using coupons. Oh well, back to the drawing board on this one.