Eat From the Pantry Challenge

One of the happenings going on in blogworld is the Eat From the Pantry Challenge. Its a call to the couponers who've stockpiled and now have an excess inventory of food in the freezer, cupboards, pantry and fridge. The object is to stay out of the stores, and make your meals from the stockpile to use up that food and make room for fresh stuff. Well, I certainly need to do that. Our freezers are bursting and the stockpile shelves are overflowing onto the floor in bags. So for the next month or so, I'm going to try to stay out of Publix and send dear to buy salad fixins and milk. I suggested we use our nonfat dry milk (NFDM) survival supply but that didn't fly. I told him he wouldn't even be able to tell the difference once it was mixed up and refrigerated. I might try that a bit later, a taste test to see. I bet you can't wait to see how that turns out.
 
Anyway, I did an inventory of the freezers and the pantry to make a list of items we have. This is most items but if I have only one of something like mustard I didn't list it. One thing for sure is we're going to be having lots of chicken salads coming up. We've been having ham on our salads because its been on sale a lot, plus makes for nice breakfast and sandwiches - but with 32 lbs of chicken breasts, we need to eat it up. Another great meal idea is to use up all the smoked sausage in chili and hot dishes, we need to use up a ton of tomato sauce and paste too. Here's the list of items now so hopefully in a month it will be considerably smaller.
 
Freezer 1/3/2010 Pantry
qty item

qty item
32  pounds of chicken breasts 34  Gatorade bottles
9  Steamfresh meals 26  Cereal boxes
6  Echerd smoked sausage 15  8 oclock coffee
4  Barber Stuffed Chicken 15  canned dog food
4  Hot Pockets 12  tomato sauce paste
4  Green Giant froz veg, boxes 10  Salad dressings
4  Green Giant froz veg, bags 10  A1 sauce
3  TGIF chicken wings value pk 10  Fisher snacks
3  Simply Potatoes hashbrowns 9  rice a roni mix
3  Mrs Pauls fried clams 9  pasta noodles
3  Seasations fish fillets (2) 9  Mt Dew liters
3  Lotus vietnamese 8  Dog snacks
2  Starbucks ice cream pint 7  soup
2  Phillips crab cakes (8) 6  Hormel Completes
2  petite steaks 6  alexia snacks
2  Totinos pizza 6  Dog food, 20 lb
1  Bertolli pasta meal 6  granola bars box
1  TGIF spinach dip 5  crackers
1  Morningstar burgers 5  black beans
1  Mrs Pauls fish fillets (8) 4  Texas Toast croutons
1  TGIF potato skins 4  BC potatoes mix
1  pound shrimp cooked 4  Roasted Peanuts
1  bratwurst (5) 4  BBQ
4  Peanut Butter
4  mac cheese
3  Mayo salad dressing
3  Bushs baked beans
3  Salsa
3  Wing sauce
3  granola nut clusters
3  12 pk soda
2  Log Cabin Syrup
2  Honey
2  Tostitos chips
2  GM fruit snacks
2  refried beans
2  Bread crumbs
2  Soy sauce
1  Spag sauce
1  velveeta lb
1  rotel
1  marinade

Probably the Largest Spending Day of 2010

 
As you know we are embarking on a kitchen remodel, now that the bathrooms are done. Last week we had the handiman tile the hallway connecting the hall bath to the kitchen. But the big expenses happened yesterday. On New Years Day, we went to Sears and purchased our first set of appliances the stainless steel range and the microwave hood. Then on the evening of New Years, we discovered our dryer wasn't working. Since the thing is at least twenty years old, we decided to get a new set. So, in addition to the stainless steel dishwasher we purchased on Saturday, we also bought a washer and dryer. Nothing fancy, no computers - just regular old white simple Kenmore stuff.
 
After getting 5 appliances for over $2700, we drove over to Lowes to get our cabinets. The Shanendoah American Woodmark cabinets (Cherry all wood construction) had two overlapping promotions so with our 10 cabinets we got the sink base free, plus free glazing and cushion close drawers and doors. I'm so excited to actually have more than one drawer in the kitchen. All you people out there who have more than one drawer, just imagine the pain the ass it would be to just have one. Go ahead laugh. Now at least we're going to have 6 drawers, plus the stainless steel tilt out tray on the sink base. Cool ha. Anyway, the damage on all this was $4100. Adding the appliances and the cabinets makes it $6800 so far, which leaves us a little over three grand for labor and lights, countertop and misc stuff. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to do this in our hoped for $10000 budget, since the countertop (with free undermount stainless sink promo) is going to cost $2100.
 
So yesterday was a big day where we spent an incredible amount of money. The weird thing is not one picture of George ever changed hands, its all that virtual money called credit. All our purchases are on delayed 0% interest for 6 months on the cabinets, and 12 months for the appliances. But still when we get the countertop, it will be over $1000 a month due to pay these bills.
 
So the clock is ticking, we need to prep the kitchen - empty out cupboards and tear up the old wood floor (I will never get a wood floor again if its within ten feet of a water source), and take down the cabinets.  We've got three weeks to do this. Get movin!

Happy New Kitchen Year

Today is the beginning of our kitchen project. Our hopefully frugal kitchen project. So we waited til Sears was having a Kenmore sale and we need to get a stove, microwave hood, and a dishwasher. And, oh maybe a dryer too because ours just died tonight. After drying the load of clothes 3 times and the dryer never got warm, it seems the thing is failing us. So maybe a dryer too. But back to Sears, we bought a range and a micro hood. Stainless because white just looked cheap. Not the most frugal choice because there is no functional difference between white and stainless - its all looks. Anyway, we used our sears card to get 5% off, and the cash for clunker deal that sears is offering ($100 off), and ended up spending $1144. Still may need a dryer.

2010 Publix Art Calendar

I'm so excited I received my 2010 Publix Art Calendar in the mail today. Since they won't be distributing them in Tampa, I emailed corporate and they shipped one off in a day. There are great coupons for each month of the year, so if you want one I'd recommend requesting your own copy.
 
The coupons included are:
January: $2 off a $20 Purchase
February: $1 Off Any Grocery Item of $1 or more
March: $1 Off any Produce Item of $1 or More
April: $1 Off any Bakery Item of $1 or More
May: $1 Off any Meat/Seafood Item of $1 or More
June: $1 Off any Deli Item of $1 or More
July: $3 Off A $30 Purchase
August: $1 Off any Grocery Item of $1 or More
September: $1 Off any Bakery Item of $1 or More
October: $1 Off any Produce Item of $1 or More
November $3 Off of a $30.00 Purchase
December: $5 Off of a $50 Purchase

New Years Resolutions

Well it's the last day of the year and I have to admit, I haven't accomplished what I would like with this blog. I've spent a decent amount of prep getting the site up, and getting affiliates and trying to create interesting posts. However, I just haven't made it my priority. With a full time very boring government job you would think I could sneak in a few posts each day. But the death of me has been google reader and all the RSS feeds that I browse each day. There are a lot of great blogs out there with meaningful posts that I read and think, geeze I could write that too - but I don't because it takes a lot of time to write a good blog post. So with said, here are my frugal new years resolutions
  • Create a clear focus for the blog and have every post be related to the focus
  • Post regularly, not too much like some do but hopefully at least once a day
  • Provide meaningful content with every post, not just ads or deals that everyone is posting
  • Link up to Facebook and Twitter (@frugalapolis) and use those networks
So my goals are to just grow the blog with increased readership, and to share frugal practices and deals so others can benefit from a frugal lifestyle.
 
Happy New Year to You!

Is Your 2009 IRA Fully Funded?

You still have a few months to contribute to your IRA and Roth IRA's for 2009. This is a great way to cut your tax burden and save for retirement. There are some exciting changes for Roth IRA conversions this coming year that you should investigate which allow you to defer claiming half of the contribution until 2011, therefore easing the tax burden. According to the IRS, maximum IRA contributions for 2009 are the same for both a Traditional IRA and Roth IRA.  You can also split your contributions among both Roth and Traditional, but your combined contribution amounts are subject to these same limits.
Under 50 years old at the end of 2008:
  • Traditional IRA contribution limits = $5,000
  • Roth IRA contribution limits = $5,000
  • Combined IRA contribution limits = $5,000
Over 50 years old as the end of 2008:
  • Traditional IRA contribution limits = $6,000
  • Roth IRA contribution limits = $6,000
  • Combined IRA contribution limits = $6,000
  • IRA deadline for 2009 contributions is April 15, 2010.

  • Quizzle

    Another great tool I use to monitor my finances. Every 6 months you can check in, and get your FREE credit score (not just your report) on Quizzle.com 
    Your home, money and credit go hand in hand in life, here you can manage it all. At Quizzle, you'll get access to helpful tools and information that will help you make smart decisions about your life, including:
    • Free Credit Report
    • Free Credit Score
    • Credit Improvement Tool
    • Home Value Estimate
    • Home Loan Recommendations
    • Personal Budget
    • Advice on How to Improve
    Knowing your home value and the prices of homes recently sold in your neighborhood will come in handy when you want to sell your home, refinance your home loan or make home improvements. Staying on top of your money situation will allow you to cover life's expenses and save for your future. Understanding what's on your credit report and what your credit score is will put you in a position to qualify for the best mortgage rates, get that dream job or snag the lowest rate and payment on your new car.
    It is a secure site where you can enter your debt and income, and it will calculate your grade, A B or C in financial health. It's handy to see how your credit score changes based on how you spend or save your money. Mine actually went down to 797 (the range is 350 to 850) from 819 in the last quarter. I think its because we have less debt and have been spending less. Credit scores are really strange in how they are determined, and healthy financial choices don't always help your credit score.
     
    So give Quizzle.com a try for the new year.

    What is Swagbucks?

    Recently on Facebook, the question was posed? "What is this swagbucks thing?" Well, simply its a way to search and earn. If you use google to search the internet, you could start using Swagbucks instead and earn points. These points can be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise at your favorite online vendors, like Amazon. I've been using swagbucks to search for quite a while now and earn about 3 points a day, so in 15 days its enough to get a $5 Amazon gift card. So twice a month I redeem points and they email me an Amazon code. It comes out to about $10 a month. The cool thing is I have a special word that I search for every day and it gets me at least 1 or 2 SB (swagbucks). Sometimes it yeild nothing, but then I just add an "er" to the end and search again, then I get points usually. So actually, I have 2 words that NEVER fail to give me points on a daily basis.  So you could try that theory, just use a word like "suspend", and then add er to get "suspender". Or try market, and marketer.  I also check Slickdeals Swagbucks thread and people post swagbucks and hints how to find them. Its actually pretty easy and the $10 bucks a month doesn't hurt. It all adds up.
     
     
     

    Time For New Folders

    Back to work again after a long weekend, still a little slow so this is a great time to organize for 2010. Of course lots of photos were taken on Christmas and Christmas Eve and new folders were created on the PC to keep them organized. You may wonder how I manage to organize thousands of photos dating back to 2003 when I first got a digital camera. First thing I do is remove all pictures from the camera SD card. I put the SD card in a USB card reader. First I review the photos quickly to delete duplicates, or bad ones. We usually take lots of pictures to make sure we get a good one, but they get screened and deleted before permanently saving on the computer. Then I rotate any that were taken sideways, so they show up in the correct orientation on a slide show on the computer. After review, click the start button to get MY COMPUTER icon, and go to the photo directory that I have sorted by year, and add a new folder for Christmas09. Then I MOVE the photos off the SD card into the Christmas09 folder by selecting and dragging them over. I also upload to my shutterfly or picassa directory online at this time too.

    Now is also the time to consolidate folders, and to make a new 2010 folder for all the photos I'll take next year. Being organized helps you find photos you need in the future for prints or to share, or to make cards. Actually there are some deals out there for Shutterfly right now. CARDS4YOU is a code to get 12 free 5x7 cards and it may work in one of your accounts, not all work though. Also try to enter SHIPCARDS (exp 12/29) to get free shipping on your cards. I also got an email for 75 free prints by entering RUDOLPH.

    Publix Sneak Peak 12/24-12/31

    Well it looks a good stock up week at Publix starting Christmas Eve, they finally have some yogurt (Dannon Activa) that will be free or cheap with matching up the BOGO and coupons. Lots of cereals deals and more salad dressing. Keep checking back to the SNEAK PEAK this week as coupon matchups are added. Another great resource is www.iheartpublix.com for coupon matchups and deals.
     
    Keep an eye out for the Publix Art Calendar which is being seen in some stores now, they have great coupons for each month of the year. Get at least 2 copies if you can so you can maximize.