Back on Track

Well its been a while since I've posted and I apologize to all those new readers who click and see that old post. I'm going to try to make it more of a priority to keep this place updated with lots of interesting frugal thoughts. The bathroom remodel took a lot of effort and we're still finishing touches like installing knobs on cabinets and towel racks, and hanging pictures. Still haven't figured out what to do with the toothaste and toothbrush, but that will come.
 
We did well on the budget with the bathrooms, remodeling both completely with new fixtures, walls, ceiling, tile floors, tile tub and shower walls for only $8300. We have a great handyman who did top quality work. Its funny now that we've experienced having tile installed in our home for the first time, we are both very alert to seeing grout lines and tile everywhere. Its amazing the spectrum of quality work you can see, and most of it is not quality.
 
Anyway, the kitchen remodel is next. I'll post more about that as we get to it.

10 Lifestyle Changes

Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down. For more detail see source HERE

1. Lose those extra pounds and watch your waistline

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure significantly. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure. Losing weight also makes any blood pressure medications you're taking more effective.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). And it doesn't take long to see a difference. If you've been sedentary, increasing your activity can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.

4. Reduce sodium in your diet

Even a modest reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. And bigger cutbacks mean greater reductions in blood pressure.

5. Limit alcohol consumption

Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can help prevent heart attacks and coronary artery disease and potentially lower your blood pressure by 2.5 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and more than two a day for men.

6. Avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke

On top of all the other dangers of smoking, the nicotine in tobacco products can raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after you smoke.

7. Cut back on caffeine

The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debatable. Drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause a spike in your blood pressure. And some studies show that people who drink caffeine regularly have a higher average blood pressure, suggesting that caffeine might have a long-term impact. But other studies show you can develop a tolerance to caffeine so that it doesn't affect your blood pressure.
To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage you regularly drink. If your blood pressure increases by five to 10 points, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.

8. Reduce your stress

As with caffeine, the influence of stress on blood pressure isn't settled. Stress or anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure.
You need to know what stresses you before you can try to reduce your stress. Take some time to think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what's causing your stress, consider how you can eliminate or reduce stress.

9. Get regular health care

If you have high blood pressure, you may need to monitor your blood pressure at home, or use the monitor at Walgreens or Publix.

10. Get a support system

Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.

Still Tasty

Many of you are probably off work at home shopping for Turkey Day. But then there will be the inevitable questions about shelf life and how long are those Thanksgiving leftovers still good to eat. HERE is a website Still Tasty that lets you know how long food is really good for. As a former food scientist in the food industry, I know for a fact that expiration dates on products are mostly there to protect the company and help with inventory management. The majority of food and products are good for much much longer than the stated expiration dates. Also remember that when you heat up leftovers for the second time to 160F you begin your shelf life over again. However, leftovers should not be reheated more than once unless you are certain they were sanitarily prepared and stored.

$3 Free MP3 downloads from Amazon

Click HERE to get the code MP34FREE for 3 free songs from Amazon.
  • Promotional offer valid for a limited time only and subject to change. Promotional offer is valid from November 23, 2009 12:00 AM PST through November 30, 2009 11:59 PM PST. You must redeem the code by November 30, 2009 11:59 PM PST.
  • The promotional offer value is $3.00; if you don't use it fully for a song or album, the remaining dollar amount of the code will remain in your account and will be applied to your next MP3 purchase. You may use it to purchase a song or album priced above $3.00, in which case your credit card will be charged for the amount in excess of $3.00.
  • Promotional offer can only be used for MP3s sold at Amazon.com.
  • Promotional offer limited to one Amazon MP3 promotional code per customer.
  • Amazon MP3 music downloads are available to customers located and with billing addresses in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia only. You must have an Amazon.com account and accept the Amazon MP3 Service Terms of Use to redeem the code.
  • We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to terminate or modify this promotion.

Access Denied

It is so annoying when bloggers only send partial feeds of 2 sentences, and to continue reading their content you have to click again to go to their site to finish reading. I have all my reading set up through a RSS feed reader so I don't have to go to each site. Problem is the sites are blocked at the office, but the feeds aren't. I know I know. But anyway, I'm unsubscribing to all those annoying partial feeds. Then I leave a comment to let them know why I unsubscribed. There's enough stuff out there to keep me busy, I certainly don't need to be annoyed doing it.

Veteran's Day Freebies 2009

I salute our military and armed forces and want to thank all of our veteran's. Sometimes it's easy to forget the price you've paid for us but we sure appreciate it.
  • Go here to receive a 33% off coupon for Family Christian Store. 
  • Free canes from Sam's Club info here
  • BOGO Free pizza from Uno's here.
  • Free Bloomin Onion from Outback Steakhouse details here
  • Free Applebees here
  • Free Abuelo's here
  • If you're a veteran or an active member of the military get down to Krispy Kreme for a free doughnut on Veterans Day! Click here for a list of participating U.S. Krispy Kreme stores.
  • Free meal from Golden Corral on 11/16/09

Give a Day - Get a Disney Day 2009

BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2010, when you sign up HERE to volunteer a day of service with a participating organization
(and your service is completed and verified) you'll get one day admission to a Walt Disney World® or Disneyland®
theme park, FREE! We want to inspire one million people to volunteer a day of service.
 
  • Receive free admission* to one of the theme parks of the Walt Disney World® Resort or Disneyland® Resort when you sign up and complete a day of volunteer service with a participating organization.
  • You must sign up for eligible volunteer opportunities for the "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." program through this site. Participation in volunteer activities outside of this sign up process does not qualify for a free ticket.
  • Ticket quantities for this program are limited.
  • One ticket per person, regardless of the number or hours of volunteer service completed.
  • The program begins January 1, 2010 and continues until tickets are distributed or December 15, 2010, whichever occurs first.
  • Eligible volunteer opportunities are located in the United States, including Puerto Rico, or Canada only and you must have a residence in the United States, Puerto Rico or Canada to sign up.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to sign up, and you may sign-up up to a maximum of 8 additional members of your same household. Children must be at least 6 years of age to volunteer under this program and receive a theme park ticket. Children ages 6-17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when volunteering. Other age restrictions may apply to certain eligible volunteer opportunities.
  • Volunteer opportunities are posted a limited time in advance of the date of opportunity.
  • Volunteer service must be verified.
  • Once verified, you will receive an email with instructions on how to print a voucher to redeem for the free theme park ticket. Please print the voucher and present it at the designated will call ticket window at Walt Disney World® Resort or a ticket booth at the Disneyland® Resort, along with valid photo ID, to redeem for your free 1-day, 1-theme park ticket. Valid ID is one of the following: valid Government Issued Passport, valid Driver's License including a photo, or valid Government Issued Photo ID. For children under 18 who do not have any of the previous listed IDs, a copy of a Birth Certificate is acceptable. School IDs or children security IDs are not deemed government-issued photo IDs and will not be accepted.
  • The theme park tickets distributed under this Program will not be valid for use on the following dates:
    • For Walt Disney World® Resort: March 29 - April 8 and July 4, 2010
    • For Disneyland® Resort: February 13-14, March 21, June 21-22, July 4, November 21, and December 11-12, 2010.
  • Tickets are non-transferable.
  • If you are an Annual Passholder or a multi-day ticket holder, you may choose from one of three options instead of receiving the free 1-day, 1-park ticket. No cash refunds or credits will be provided.
  • Vouchers must be redeemed for tickets or Passholder and multi-day ticket holder options, as applicable, by December 15, 2010. Theme park ticket must be used by December 15, 2010.
  • The program's eligible volunteer opportunities are made available solely by or through HandsOn Network ("HON"), Points of Light Institute and their affiliates. Disney is not affiliated with HandsOn Network, the Points of Light Institute or any of the volunteer opportunities available under this program, and shall not be liable for any damages, injuries, losses, claims or expenses of any kind resulting from the volunteer opportunitiesor any activities related thereto.
  • Subject to these terms and conditions, tickets may be obtained under this program by (1) signing up for an eligible volunteer opportunity in 2010 at a participating organization from this site and completing such volunteer service, or (2) signing up with HON, with Southwest Airlines or though the Disney VoluntEARS program to participate in a volunteer activity that is later designated by Disney as a volunteer activity conducted in conjunction with the "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." Launch or Tour and actually participating in and completing such activity, or (3) receiving and accepting an invitation from HON to participate in a volunteer activity that is later designated by Disney as a volunteer activity conducted in conjunction with the "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." Launch or Tour and actually participating in and completing such activity.
  • These Program Terms and Conditions are subject to change without notice.
  • How can I find out if the organization I volunteer for is included in the program? Volunteer opportunities are handled through HandsOn Network. Please visit their website at http://www.handsonnetwork.org/disney for more information on the volunteer organizations included their network.
  • We signed up with Hands On Tampa Bay, and for the Minnesota connection, you can sign up with Hands On Twin Cities. Basically, you need to sign up and register for a one hour orientation class to learn how to be a volunteer. Then you are qualified to volunteer at any number of events throughout the year for your day. Volunteer activities can be done at homeless shelters, the local Lowery Park Zoo, Horses for Humanity and tons of other places.

    Twenty (20) Items You Should Never Have to Pay For

    Since I've been couponing about six months now, there are some things that I'll never have to pay for again, simply because I can get them for free with coupons. Everyone has a CVS, Walgreens or Target near them and most of these items can be had for free by stacking store coupons with manufacturer coupons, or using the CVS Extra Care Bucks (ECB's) or Walgreens Register Rewards (RR) that are essentially money back and many times give you overage or extra money back so it's a moneymaker.
     
    Its important when you coupon, to NOT be brand loyal – If you only will eat Hunts Ketchup, instead of Heinz or whatever brand ketchup is made by, you're costing yourself money. You need to be able to brush your teeth with any of a multitude of brands of toothpaste like Arm & Hammer, Crest or Colgate. If you can't bring yourself to do that, go ahead SPEND MORE OF YOUR MONEY.
     
    Anyway, here is a list of items that you should never have to pay for, or if you do it should be a very small amount, like less than a quarter each.
     
    1. Toothpaste – on BOGO at Publix a few times a year, stack with coupons and get it free. At CVS or Walgreens you can get free toothpaste usually every other week with the ECB or RR and a coupon.
    2. Toothbrushes – CVS and Walgreens are the best places to get these regularly, but they limit quantities. Kmart has double coupon deals where you can stock up, and Target will stack their store coupon with manufacturer (MQ) coupon to get for free. Publix seems to rarely have toothpaste deals unless you can use the Target coupon stacked with a Proctor & Gamble (P&G) coupon and its on BOGO. Then you can stock up.
    3. Dental Floss – Easy to get all the time free with P&G coupon stacked with Publix or Target store coupon, or with Walgreens coupon.
    4. Bandaids – Johnson and Johnson always has high value coupons that stack with Publix advantage buys, at least quarterly. Also good item for double coupons at Kmart where they double up to $2 coupons.
    5. Deodorant – Most brands Dove, Sure, Degree, Suave, Gillette all can be had for free at all stores, usually involves stacking coupons. Remember those coupons in Walgreens ads are store coupons and can be stacked with a MQ. Plus this is a good thing for the homeless give away box, as are all the personal care items.
    6. Razors – Oh this is a fun freebie because they cost so much, but they are easy to get for free with the high value coupons out there. Most often found at Target or Walgreens, stacking a sale with a store and MQ coupon.
    7. Air Fresheners and Candles – P&G is big with high value coupons available on the internet and email, lots of free or BOGO coupons to be had, stack with a Publix advantage buy or Target sale.
    8. Shampoo & Conditioners – Suave, Dove, Pantene, and many others I can't remember are often on sale for a fair price that you can stack a store and MQ to get for free at Walgreens, Target or Publix.
    9. Makeup and Tools – Publix is notorious for offering Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon and Max Factor store coupons that can be stacked with MQ coupons, and then wait for the store Advantage buy to get lip gloss, tweezers, mascara and nail files for free.
    10. Yogurt – match a MQ coupon with BOGO at Publix for free yogurt, usually once a month.
    11. Salad Dressing – when the high value Kraft coupons come out in the summer this is the time to stock up, the coupons are scarce now, but the BOGO deals are still out there. We're still using our supply from May of this year and I'm hoping it lasts. I didn't realize how long in between those great $2 coupons. So, its off to trying other brands that stack with sales.
    12. BBQ sauce – this is an easy freebie to get all year round. Lots of brands, notably Kraft, Uncle Rays. Stack a coupon with BOGO to get free.
    13. Mustard – usually Frenches is the freebie to get fairly often. The coupons aren't that high value, but stacked with a BOGO deal or Walgreens deal, you can get for free.
    14. Cereal – Usually need to start with a good sale like $2.00 box or less or BOGO, and stack a Target coupon with MQ coupon at Publix. This week you can get GM and Kelloggs and Kashi cereals for free with combining printables off the internet. I think we got about 14 boxes of cereal yesterday for mostly free when we shopped at Publix.
    15. Tomato sauce or paste – there are always $1 Muir Glen internet printable (IP) coupons, and the sauce is 0.89 so it's a moneymaker any day without a sale. Paste is 1.09 so it costs nine cents.
    16. Pasta – combine a BOGO with MQ coupon to get this product for pennies.
    17. Pet Food and Treats – These go on BOGO often at Publix, and on sale at Target and the coupons available are high value and BOGO. It's easy to frequently stack a Target BOGO with a MQ BOGO and get all of them free at Target or Publix. Brands available all the time are Pedigree, Chef Michael, Purina, Friskies.
    18. Paper Products – free Chinet plates, Dixie, Hefty can be had by combining a great coupon with store sale, or even regular price. Also possible to get toilet paper, paper towels and napkins really cheap at Walgreens and CVS by matching the sales with ECB deals and coupons.
    19. Reusable shopping bags – look for peelies or store coupons, I have dozens of these and have never paid for any. Publix has a cute new holiday bag out, and GM has peelies on their products to make it free.
    20. Instant Potatoes – these are often BOGO and can be matched with a  coupon to get for free.

    October Brag

    Yesterday, I made my 5th or 6th trip of the week to Publix to use that wonderful $4 off GM store coupon to get more booty. It was totally a coupon run to either stock up or get rain checks and since it was after work my mind was still sleepy and I forgot THE GOLDEN COUPON RULE. In case you can't pull that little rule out of your already cluttered mind, the rule is make sure you have more items than coupons otherwise your transaction will require a supervisor override. Since I was stacking the $4 Q with MQ coupons and I didn't get filler items, the clerk had to call over the manager. He was cool no big deal, it was all legit (ALL my transactions are).
     
    So its taking a little longer than normal and I was done bagging and signing, and a gentleman was behind me in line. He had seen me unpack my cart and it filled up the whole belt and then he saw the pile of coupons and then started peering over my shoulder at the total going down and down and down. When the total was final, the clerks are supposed to read you your receipt and tell you how much you saved at Publix, so she says "you saved 90.14 today" (I paid $15.15) and hands me my receipt and I walk away with all my bags. I heard the guy behind me ask the clerk in amazement, "How much did she save??". It was one of those very few times when I felt proud to coupon. Most of the time coupons are a game to me, its fun. Sometimes, they're a hassle and they make me pissy. Sometimes they make me feel smart, and sometimes they make me feel like I'm being perceived as poor. It's actually amazing how wide a range of feelings one can get from coupons.
     
    Anyway, my main brag is to celebrate couponing for about 6 months now and my system just seems to run itself with less and less time from me - or maybe I'm just more efficient. My stockpiles are TOTALLY stocked and I have learned to pass up purchases (even if they are free after coupons) if I don't need the stuff. Our total grocery bill for the month of October was $183,  but then I returned dog food that the dog is allergic too (I had purchased in Sept) for a $81 credit, so the net total was $102. I don't have all my receipts itemized so I don't know how much I saved, but I'm sure it was a lot (maybe $700-$900??) based on how full my cupboards, freezers, fridges and spare room are!
     
    So, there - I'm bragging and I'm proud! 

    Publix Sneak Peek 11/05-11

    Go HERE to see the sneak peek at BOGO deals for Publix next week.