Kraftmaid has this free kitchen idea book available now, click the banner to order yours, Hurry they go quick!

We just finished remodeling our bathrooms with Kraftmaid cabinets and they look beautiful. Unfortunately, the quality is really crappy. The doors are hung crooked on hinges applied sloppily. Of our four cabinets, three have problems. When we got the replacement cabinet door, it was missing the anchors to attach to cabinet and they sent the wrong part 2 times. After two months, we are still in limbo with them.

So go ahead get the book, dream about a beautiful cabinet, and then wakeup in the middle of a nightmare.

Hands On Network (HOT)

This weekend before continuing on the kitchen demolition, we drove over to Westshore Macy's to attend the 45 minute Hands On Tampabay (HOT) orientation. This is the local volunteer organization to work through for the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day promotion. It was pretty simple and easy and we learned how to sign up. Unfortunately all the opportunities are coming up showing that 0 volunteers are needed. The HOT representative said that more spots would be available in the middle of the month when the February calendar is posted. So if you are interested in doing this promotion, it is going to take a little legwork - but probably will be worth it.

My First Shop of 2010

Last night we went to Publix for our first grocery shop of the new year. We don't really need much since we're trying to use up our stockpile, as I talked about in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge but we do need to get a few produce and dairy items. You probably didn't notice that I didn't post new year resolutions, but I didn't. I don't really feel ready to do that yet. I have been thinking about goals though, and have decided my frugal shopping goal is to spend less than $1000 this year at the grocery store. This would work out to an average of $19.23 per week, or about $77 a month. This is a huge stretch goal because in the past our groceries were our second highest household expense at about $4000 a year. Basically, we are going to try to cut our grocery budget by 75% using coupons, stockpiling stuff on sale, and shopping the BOGO deals at Publix.
So back to our trip yesterday to Publix. I felt unprepared for the shop, and was printing and cutting out Target coupons to stack with the MQ's on Special K Cereal because I didn't remember that Target had some matches. I was relying too much on the blogs to outline the deals, and they missed some key coupons that I had (like BOGO MQ on the Special K cereal to match with the BOGO sale, so all boxes were free). I need to increase my awareness of what coupons are out there and what I have. I also didn't preplan the purchases on a spreadsheet (which I've never done) but this would have saved me more money. I had extra $5 off $50 coupons but only used one, when I could have thrown the other one in since our total was over $145 before coupons. I had two expired store coupons from last months flyer, and had to tear out two new ones from the Green Advantage Flyer. I also made the mistake of not splitting the order so that I used less than 50 coupons.  Also the last coupons (the stacking Target Q) confused the clerk and she called over the manager to approve. Then at the bottom of the pile finally, they start beeping because I have too many coupons. I also had more coupons than items in my cart which requires manager override too. I don't mind doing this but the store was "alive at five" and the line behind me was getting impatient. I told the girl that I'll use them next time. So these mistakes cost me about $7. At the end of the transaction the total was $27 and the savings were $135, for 84% savings. So, the $27 is more than the budgeted amount per week of $19. If I had planned my shop better I would have come in about $20, only $1 over budget.
I'm not really fond of having grocery shopping become a mathematical worksheet, but I suppose why not. After all, its one of our biggest expenses of the household. Its actually amazing how so many people just don't make the time or effort to use coupons to save hundreds of dollars every month. I can save more money using coupons than I could make in a part time job. Maybe I should just quit my day job and become a professional grocery shopper. I could just split the savings with the people. It would pay me and they would spend less on groceries. Think that would work? Who wants to sign up?

Can I Have the Crowbar Please?

Last night we got confirmation of a ship date on our kitchen cabinets, and its pretty quick - like in eleven days. That means the old cabinets needed some attention. We started out by boxing up the food, and tossing out expired stuff. Dear found a can of tuna from 2001 that we just didn't have the heart to put out for the neighbor cats. We didn't want to lure them near the puddle of antifreeze that oozed out of the neighbors truck onto our driveway after we used the truck to bring home the washer and dryer. Anyway, I emptied out the cabinets with dishes and have five large dog food bags full of coffee cups, glassware, dishes, bowls and cups that we're not even going to bother giving away - into the trash they go. This is stuff we moved in, stored in the cabinets and have not touched in fifteen years, I don't think we'll miss it.
So we've cleaned out the cabinets, moved the small appliances out onto the kitchen table and we're ready to remove the upper wall cabinets to see what we've got in store. This couldn't possibly be as bad as using a hammer drill on the tile and concrete walls that were in the bathroom, so we didn't even bother with gloves and ear protection. Mistake number one. Um, dear can I have the crowbar please? I don't see any screws or nail heads anywhere, how the hell is this thing attached to the wall?
The Man Servant gets a drill to remove all the doors to make this a little easier. I grab a flathead screwdriver to start prying off the laminate to reveal wood and hopefully some screws or nails. After peeling off a couple layers of contact paper (pretty yellow mushrooms under there) we found a couple screws. So, the man gets the drill and removes all the up down supports. Good deal, we're getting somewhere. But, oh the thing looks like it was a pre-assembled 10 foot box that was nailed to the walls. All the nail and screw heads are buried against the wall. Great, this means we need to get out the circular saw to cut it apart. So tonight we'll be all garbed up with safety gear, ear muffs, goggles, gloves. And the crowbar.

Start Over, Finish Rich - free download TODAY ONLY

Today only! WalletPop readers can download Start Over, Finish Rich: 10 Steps to Get You Back on Track in 2010, the latest book from best-selling author David Bach, ABSOLUTELY FREE. Read an excerpt here, or click HERE for your free download!

Disney Deals

Remember back HERE when I told you about the deal where you volunteer for a day, and then you get a free day at Walt Disney World? Well, you can sign up now. I've been getting emails from organizations and there are an amazing number of ways to volunteer - giving blood counts too.
Anyway, if you can't find it in your bones to volunteer and would rather just pay up, there is a new Florida Resident deal where you get any four days admission to any four Disney World parks up through Memorial Day, for only $99.HERE Get 4 Days for $99 with the new 4 Day Dream Pass and enjoy incredible savings*! Available only to Florida residents, this special offer provides admission to any of the 4 Walt Disney World® theme parks (one park per day) on any 4 days of your choosing, from January 3, 2010 until May 25, 2010 blackout dates apply. (spring break)*

Free Prints and Calendars at the FLY

Shutterfly has a couple promotions going on now, valid thru Wed 1/6/10. Get 75 free prints by entering the code PRINTS2010 in your account special offers. Also try CALENDAR2010 for a free 12 month calendar. Both offers may be account specific, but I have a lot of friends with accounts that you can use if you want to make a calendar and transfer it an account where the code is valid. Just make your own calendar in your account and "share" it with my email.
Anyway, I've been watching for free calendars for a while and they haven't had this kind of offer all year. Too bad they didn't put it out about 2 weeks ago...

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.