Frugal Racing Road Trip

This past weekend we drove 1200 miles on a road up to Darlington, SC to attend the NASCAR races. Its a trip we do every year because we are race fans, plus its close enough to drive to. The problem with attending out of town NASCAR races is that its possible for the race to rain out and be postponed until the next day. The Darlington Southern 500 is run on Friday night and then Saturday night, so Sunday is free to drive/travel home, or be the makeup date for a postponed race.
 
This year the weather was sunny, hot and breezy - so no delays. Anyway, back to the road trip.  We attend this race every year so we actually renewed our tickets last year so that expense was already taken care of. But they were not particularly cheap, the Busch race was $35 each and the cup race was $94 each. We have premium seats right on the start finish line, twenty rows up so we can see the entire track and we have the end seats so we can run up and down the stairs to get food and use the restroom. Plus when the big fat sweaty smelly guy sitting next to you stands up (and your nose is in his butt space), you can squish over into the aisle to get away from it. So the tickets put us back $264.
 
For frugal hotel expenses, we used our government id to get the cheap rate of $70 for each of three nights at the Marriott Residence Inn. This was a great deal to stay at a nice hotel with free newspapers, free hot breakfast and a full kitchen. The race weekend is an event weekend and all hotels within 100 miles are booked at full rate. We are lucky that this hotel was less than 10 miles to the track, and we know the back way to get there so we didn't experience the hours of frustration sitting in traffic that most race fans go through. The trick to getting the government rate at the hotel, is to book it online as soon as allowed for the next year, before the venue realizes that its race weekend. Unfortunately, most of the racing travel packages, and race teams and media all like to stay at the nice hotels too, and the Marriott actually called me last year to try to get me to cancel my reservation because they needed it for a team. I refused and they actually honored the reservation.  That's exactly why I always book our stay at least two hotels, in case one cancels us to get a full price paying customers. So the hotel cost us $235.
 
We drove so we could bring all our beverages and the kitchen sink too. The wonderful thing is I've been using my overage from shopping at Publix to get free or cheap beer. We also had free bottled water from coupons, and really cheap Powerade from recent sales and coupons. So we consumed 36 bottles of water, 60 beers (5 12 pks), a 12 pk of Diet Mt Dew soda, and a 6 pk of Powerade. Total cost $0.
 
Since this is a regular road trip for us, we know where we want to eat. We get a $50 gift card from the charge card and eat at Outback the first night for free. Then for lunch we get Zaxbys wings, and dinner is a Schlotzky's sandwich we bring to the track. The other wonderful thing about going to NASCAR events is that you can bring in soft coolers of beer and beverages, plus a bag for your scanner radio, peanuts and food. We brought everything in and didn't spend a penny at the track. Parking is even free on site. But we opt to pay the local dude $20 to park in his yard for a shady spot, and a quick getaway at the end. So in the end parking cost $40, and meals were $48. We also bought a pizza on the drive up there so we could eat in the car, for $10. Our Einsteins bagels were free with the facebook coupon, and I had a birthday card for free Starbucks we got free too.
 
Our gasoline for the trip was all paid using BP gas cards we got at Publix, so they were already paid for in March. Our average mileage was 31 mpg for a cost of $112 worth of gas, but I'm not going include that in this trips expense.
 
So our entire trip expenses totalled $600 for a 4 day weekend out of town. If we had had paid the regular hotel rate, had to pay for our beverages, food and gas the cost of the trip would have been $1517. So I'm proud of our frugal trip. The great thing is that I don't feel like we were being frugal, we got everything we wanted, and never hesitated on an activity due to expense.
 
Now thats the way to travel.
 

Publix Sneak Peek 5/13-5/19

Wander on over to True Couponing for a sneak peek at the new Publix Ad starting this Thursday. I'm excited to get some VIGO yellow rice (even though there are no coupon matchups), and some Post cereals.

Friday

Well this weekend I'm in Darlington, SC at the NASCAR races so I'm surfing via unsecured internet and via my Sprint cell phone as a modem. Y'all who travel and try to stay connected know the difficulty of trying to upload 2MB photos over a 115 kbps cell phone connnection. It doesn't really work. I know I need to upgrade my cell phone - its the same one I've had since 2006. I'm just so darn afraid of them switching me off my wonderful SERO plan for $30/month for unlimited everything. So, I hang on to the old phone.

Anyway, all you new Friday Followers, I'm trying to check out your blogs and follow and stuff but have to admit my laptop is even older (2005 Inspiron 700m), and maybe is contributing to my troubles. I doubt it though because this little baby is AWESOME (I hear so many people say that these days - like AHHH summmmmm).

What I'm trying to say is, don't give up on me - I'll be back in the saddle on Monday.

UGH.

Earn Amazon Giftcards

One of the easiest ways I get Amazon Gift Cards is by doing my searchs on the internet using Swagbucks search bar. There are other great gift cards and swag you can choose if Amazon doesn't float your boat.
 
If you haven't joined Swagbucks yet, this is the week to do so because you can get 50 swagbucks just for joining. It only takes 450 to earn an Amazon gift card and I promise if you search daily you can have one earned in time for the next payout on the 16th (Two payouts per month on the 1st and 16th).
 
Just click Swagbucks and enter the code SWAGNATION5. This offer ends Friday, May 7th.
 
If you are a member, this week is also DOUBLE swagbucks week which means you can win twice as much every day. So if you usually search and win 3 times, you can win 6 times each day!.

Use Your Stockpile to Help Seacoast Oil Crisis

One way you can help with cleanup of the Gulf oil spill is to donate some of your stockpile items to help volunteers clean oil off birds and turtles coated with oil.
 
The SANCTUARY NEEDS DONATIONS for a possible impact on Florida's beaches from the Gulf Oil Spill:  The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Avian Hospital's trained staff is on stand-by to assist with the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis, with over 300 volunteers on call if needed.  It is asking for more volunteers to be on emergency call and donations to the avian hospital at 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, Florida. Volunteers would need to receive hazardous materials training. 
The sanctuary is the largest wild bird hospital in the U.S. based on the admission of over 8,000 injured birds each year. It is set up to immediately triage and stabilize fluids to oiled, malnourished, or injuried birds. The birds would then need to be  transported to a hazardous materials cleaning site.  The Sanctuary has received thousand's of emails and calls from around the world from concerned groups and individuals. 
The Sanctuary staff and volunteers were a significant workforce in the disastrous Tampa Bay 1993 oil spill and has experienced avian care staff on standby to assist Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research.  To report oiled wildlife affected by the Gulf oil spill please call the Wildlife reporting hotline at 1-866-557-1401.
Needed donations of linens, kennels, towels, sheets, Dawn detergent, toothbrushes (new), paper towels, bottled water and gatoraid.  Please bring the items to the sanctuary at 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores.  For a complete list and more information, please see www.seabirdsanctuary.com or call 727-391-6211 for more information.
Seabird Sancutary Oil Crisis Needs Flyer
 
Here are some coupon sales going on now to purchase some of these items:
- Family Dollar has Reach Cystal Clean toothbrushes for $1 and there was a $1 coupon in the 3/7 RP, so they are free
- Walgreens also has Reach Toothbrushes on sale for $0.99 and the same coupon can be adjusted down to use to get for free
- Publix has Dawn Plus Dishwashing Liquid, or Ultra Dawn, 19 or 24 oz bottle, 2/$5 thru Wednesday 5/5/10.
     -$.25/1 Dawn Ultra, Any – P&G's Home Made Simple
     -$.20/2, $.25/1 Dawn, Any Size – 03-07-10 PG
- Publix has Kleenex Cottonelle Toilet Paper Double Roll, Ultra or with Ripples, or Aloe & E Giant Roll, 12 roll pkg, $6.49 thru Wed 5/5/10.
   
  -$.50/1 Cottonelle Toilet Paper (2) 4 packs or (1) 12 pack or larger – 04-18-10 SS
     -$1/1 Cottonelle toilet paper 12 pack double roll – All You, April 2010
- Publix has Brawny Paper Towels, Pick-a-size 2 ply sheets or Big Rolls, 6 or 8 ct pkg, or Pure White, 8 roll pkg, $6.49
   
  -$1/1, $.50/1 Brawny Paper Towels, Any 2-Roll Or Larger Package – 03-14-10 RP

Frugal Jury Duty

So today's the day I do my civic duty and attend jury duty. I called last night to see if I was one of the excused jurers but no luck, no one was excused early. Its been a while since I've served jury duty, a couple years. In the meantime, the county of Hillsborough, FL has a new upgraded courthouse and of course wonderful new jury accomodations. I remember that jury duty can be a long day waiting around without much to do. But no more. They have wonderful tables and carrolls with 2 plug ins each, plus free wifi for the laptop or cell phone, or itouch. Its unsecured but I won't have to use my sprint phone as a modem which I was prepared to do.
 
Anyway, here's how to prepare for a frugal day of jury duty.
  • Last night I froze a 1/2 bottle of water and then this morning filled it the up with water so I have some ice water throughout the day. Although, I may have to sneak it since no food or drink is allowed in the jury auditorium.
  • I brought a cooler sleeve and packed my frozen water bottle to act as my ice pack to keep my Diet Mt Dew cold until lunch.
  • I brought a Healthy Choice Fresh Mixer meal from my stockpile. I've never had them but I think all I have to do is add water and microwave, and eat with my spoon. (No metal forks allowed in the building). I haven't seen a microwave yet, but I'm sure this place has one.
  • I brought my laptop, a book and a newspaper, plus an ipod shuffle and ipod nano so 1000 songs ought to get me through the day. Although now, I'm listening to the online WMNF 88.5 my favorite morning show, public radio.
  • Brought a sweater in case it gets cool in here.
So, here's to hoping I don't get picked. I never have because I know the right answers.

Do You Count?

In the census? I'm sure most of you have responded as you are responsible, frugal, government fearing individuals who follow the laws of our great nation. Unfortunately, millions of people don't count - or haven't been counted yet. So thousands of people looking for that lucrative temporary employment, have signed up and been hired to be census workers.
 
The major hiring push was at the beginning of the year and starting tomorrow for the next 60 days, these workers will be out in the neighborhood trying to count the uncounted. Unfortunately, I predict the census will have an incredibly high attrition rate as these workers figure out that $14.50/hr plus mileage, plus cell phone reimbursement and paid travel time will just not be worth it. The temperature here in Tampa is forecast to be 90F tomorrow with high winds and hot sun. It will be brutal to wander around on the streets trying to find people and verify vacant addresses.
 
The hardest part of this will be getting those uncounted people to cooperate and provide answers that can be documented on the forms. Many of the people who don't count yet, don't want to be counted. They are the NCPs (non custodial parents) hiding from Child Support Enforcement, and the mommies hiding from Dept of Families and Children, so they can't verify the number of children they claim on their food stamps and cash assistance. They are the people with outstanding warrants and writs, deactivated drivers licenses and illegal aliens.
 
My friend who has completed training to be a census worker did a trial run yesterday. They were sent in pairs to the hood. The people were rude and didn't reveal any useful information. It was a frustrating experience and her partner quit on the spot. Another one down. Add that to 50% of the people who didn't even bother to show up for training! So out of a class of 18 workers, 9 showed up, and at least one more quit yesterday. So, Tampa has 8 workers left. My friend will probably not make it a week. She is older, largely overweight, and can't walk very far without taking a break. I tell her to be safe, but who knows whats behind every door you knock on.
 
So, if you're looking for work, I'm sure the census bureau will continue to be hiring for this tough, tough job.
 
You can go HERE to see an interactive map of your area to see the participation rate, and to find out more information about jobs.

Earn Amazon Gift Cards Every Month

I just won 14 swagbucks which put me over so I could redeem ANOTHER Amazon gift card this month, just in time for the payout (which is on the 1st and 16th). Seriously, if you're not a member of Swagbucks you can join right now and earn points by searching daily. If you sign up today, you'll get 30 swagbucks to get you started.

Every Friday is Mega Swag bucks day meaning you can win big bucks (although I haven't yet), but I have the hope!
Welcome Friday Followers, just leave a comment and I'll come follow you!
Have a great day!

Get Another Phone Number Free

Twice today, I've seen situations where people don't want to get involved with something because they have to give out their phone number. One is a friend of mine who is in training this week to be a census worker and they require a contact phone number from her. Another situation is an offer on the Internet for a freebie and requires a phone number.

These days people are a lot more protective against giving out their cell phone number because its a hassle to switch or deal with unwanted calls. Here's my frugal free solution - use Google Voice (formerly Grand Central). I personally have signed up for a couple of these phone numbers and have had them for years. The way it works is that Google Voice numbers must be linked to another phone number like your cell phone, home phone or work phone. When you give out the google voice number it forwards the call to your current phone and rings so you can actually answer the call if you want. It also can send a transcript of a message to your phone or email. I have mine set so that it displays Grand Central in my caller id so I know not to answer it unless I'm selling something on craigslist, or otherwise expecting a call.

You can also block callers on Google Voice so they get an out of service message when they keep bothering you.

Its great to be able to actually get the rare winning sweepstakes call on Google Voice, but usually its spam from all those freebies you sign up for. Do yourself a favor and sign up today HERE.

Sunday Coupon Preview

This weekend there will only be one Smartsource and one Redplum. 
Redplum coupon insert (thanks to Sunday Coupon Preview)Adult Zyrtec 24ct or larger Save $4.00/1
Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup 24oz or larger Save $2.00/2
Ball Park Angus Product Save $0.55/1
Ball Park Angus Products Save $0.75/1
Beano Meltaways 15 ct or larger Save $1.50/1
Bengay ETS Save $2.00/1
Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing & Cupcake Creations Save $2.00/1
Blueberry Juice Drink 64oz Save $0.55/1
Caltrate 155 ct or larger Save $2.00/1
Caltrate Except 30 ct Save $1.00/1
Centrum Cardio Save $1.00/1
Centrum Ultra 100ct or larger Save $1.00/1
Centrum Ultra 200 ct or larger Save $3.00/2
Children's Zyrtec Save $3.00/1 ETS
Endust Save $0.55/1
Fiber Choice 90 count Save $0.50/1
Finishing Touch Lumina Personal Hair Remover Save $1.00/1
Garnier Fructis stylers ETS Save $1.00/1
Garnier Fructis Shampoo, Conditioner or Treatment Save $1.00/1 ETS
Garnier Headshine Color Crème with Bamboo Extract Save $2.00/1
Garnier Nutritioniste Cleanser or Moisturizer Save $1.00/1
Hillshire Farm Deli Select packages Save $0.35/1
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Hearty Slices packages Save $0.55/1
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls Save $0.75/1
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches Save $0.75/1
Kellogg's Special K Save $1.00/2
Kellogg's Special K Protein Products Save $1.00/2
Luigi's Real Italian Ice Save $0.50/1
Morton Sea Salt Grinder Save $1.00/1
Morton Sea Salt Grinder Refill Save $1.00/1
Nicorette Mini Lozenge, Lozenge 81ct or Nicorette Gum 100ct or larger Save $7.00/1
Nivea Body Lotion 8.4-16.9 fl oz Save $1.00/1
Nivea Body Wash for Men 16.9fl oz Save $3.00/1
Nivea Body Wash for Women 8.4oz-16.9oz Save $4.00/1
Nivea Lip Care .17-.35oz Save $1.00/1
OneTouch Ultra Meter Save $10.00/1
OneTouch Ultra Soft Lancets Save $2.00/1
People Magazine Save $1.00/1
Polident Save $1.00/1
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars boxes Save $1.00/2
Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls Save $1.00/1
Rhodes Warm-n-Serv Rolls Save $1.00/1
Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipcolour SPF 18 or Sexy Curves Mascara Save $1.00/1
Rimmel Product Save $1.00/1
Russell Stover 7.75 oz or larger Save $1.00/1
Russell Stover Boxed Chocolate 8.25oz or larger Save $1.00/1
Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste Save $1.00/1
Sensodyne Toothpaste or Sensodyne Iso-Active Foaming Gel Save $0.75/1
Super Polident Free Denture Adhesive Save $1.00/1
Superpretzel Soft Pretzel Save $0.50/1
Tic Tac Singles Excludes Multipacks BOGO
Whitman's Boxed Chocolate, 10oz-12oz Sampler or 7oz Whitman's Reserve Save $1.00/1
Whitman's Sampler ,24oz Whitman's Sampler boxed chocolate Save $2.00/1