Frugal Reading

In case you're interested in reading a bit more this year, here are a few great books I've read just this week.
  • Bitter Brew - William Knoedelseder - a great non fiction personal story about the rise and fall of Anheuser Busch.
  • The Painted Drum - Louise Erdrich - fiction story about an indian drum that heals sickness
  • The Black Box - Michael Connelly - fiction, a Harry bosch mystery solving LA crime
  • Presumed Guilty - Jose Baez - non fiction about the Casey Anthony trial as perceived by her lawyer
I love to read and read hundreds of books a year. But the only book I've purchased is an ebook called Moneyball for $0.25 from Amazon (which is a great nonfiction story). All my books are either hardcover or ebooks from the library. I also have gotten over 800 books this past year free from Amazon. This website publishes free ebooks every day, and I usually get one a day. I only pick books with a rating over 4.6 out of 5, and with over 20 reviews. The free ebooks I have read from these selections have all been excellent, including An Unproductive Woman and Butterfly Forest.
Did you know you can lend Amazon books to others as well? Its really simple to do, just select the book in your Kindle account, and send an email with the link to your friend and they get the book for 14 days before it is automatically returned to you.
My point is that reading is a very frugal worthwhile activity. It keeps your mind sharp, and provides entertainment where ever you are. My ebooks can be loaded onto my smartphone so they are with me all the time, or they can be transferred to my Kindle or Ipad if that's what I prefer.
If you haven't hooked up with your local library online, why not do it today?
In Tampa, the local site for the HIllsborough county library is HERE.

2012 Yearly Shopping Totals

This is complicated calculating yearly totals since there are so many factors that everyone uses differently. My yearly totals include all household products that are consumed, including gasoline for the vehicles. I pretty much only shop at Publix, I went to Sweetbay three times and Winn Dixie twice. I did not shop at CVS, Walgreens, or Target. Using manufacturer, store and competitor coupons matched with sales and occasional rainchecks we were able to get all our household products essentially free this past year.
  • We had 444 transactions and purchased $32,729 worth of products and gift cards.
  • Of that amount purchased; $3755 was gift cards ($1005 Publix, $2750 gas cards).
  • Total spending was $2951, for a profit of $803 in gift cards plus all the product was essentially free. 
  • On average, we spent $245 a month to purchase an average of $2727 worth of product.
  • The largest transaction was $179 spent for $384 worth of product including $200 in gas cards.
  • This does not include rebates and gift card offers received - I didn't track those.
You may notice we purchased a lot of product. We consume a normal amount of product and have stockpiles of paper goods and non expiring products to last years.  With food and products that expire, we determine our usage and purchase enough to have through expiration. If items are free or very cheap (less than $0.25 ea) we will buy to get our totals up to use a $/$$ coupon, or to use up the coupons I have. We donate a lot of product, and also have a yard sale to move any products that are extra and we cannot consume before they expire. The cash we earn from the sale goes into my coupon envelope and is used when we need to get gas cards, so the months with lots of cash spent - it is yard sale money. We are still learning how to manage a stockpile and determine what is appropriate amounts to keep. It is very frustrating to sell extra laundry detergent at a yard sale, and then the good deals disappear and we come perilously close to running out of a household item. 

 $   1,925.47 cash spent  $ 546.48  $     (3.28)  $     (23.34)  $     438.88  $      (4.65)  $    219.26
 $   1,025.82 GC spent  $   97.14  $   136.30  $      75.24  $     121.32  $     92.96  $      76.04
 $   2,951.29 Total Spent  $ 643.62  $   133.02  $      51.90  $     560.20  $     88.31  $    295.30
32,729.70 Value of Goods 4,322.47  $2,729.67  $ 2,534.65  $  3,856.14  $ 2,458.57  $ 3,212.34
$3,755.00 GC purchased 890.00 270.00 145.00 910.00 65.00 520.00
$803.71<---earnings 750 Gas 50 Gas 750 Gas 400 Gas

 $     (42.62)  $      1.32  $     (5.04)  $   562.52  $      42.07  $   193.87  $   160.46
 $      83.84  $     33.57  $     55.93  $     32.98  $    108.04  $   112.46  $     85.49
 $      41.22  $     34.89  $     50.89  $   595.50  $    150.11  $   306.33  $   245.94
 $  2,366.35  $1,308.27  $2,529.04  $ 3,323.63  $ 1,860.68  $2,227.89  $2,727.48
10.00 0.00 0.00 705.00 0.00 240.00 $1,005.00 Pulbix CG
700 Gas 100 gas 2750 Gas CG

There were a lot of coupon policy changes in 2012 and a lot of the usual coupon offerings dried up - Publix booklets weren't as good, MQs are smaller value, and limits on usage make it tougher. I expect it to continue to be a challenge in the future. It does seem that empty shelves aren't a problem as much now and there are less opportunities for rainchecks. We have had to decrease the size of our orders and increase the number of transactions to take most advantage of the $/$$ coupons. My goal with every shop is to pay less than a dollar. I don't really like to have my orders go negative and have them pay me. It does happen occasionally, but I don't plan it that way. I spend my overage on non coupon items. One advantage of frequent transactions is that you are in the store almost every day and usually get the coupon booklets before they are gone, or you can ask CS each time you're in the store and get the amount you need.
My strategies for the upcoming year - continue multiple Sunday newspaper subscriptions, multiple computers to print coupons, frequent smaller transactions, review forums for deal ideas, use GroceryTracker app for planning each shop.
Hoping for good coupon karma in the upcoming year!

My Publix Trip - Paid $0.84, Saved 98%

It's the rush at the end of the year to use up all those coupons that will expire next Monday! I have some free product coupons, plus all the Publix booklets and the WD booklets expire soon. I'm waiting til I get the new Green Advantage Flyer on Saturday to get some vitamins to help with overage toward some Purina One Dog Food and use up those coupons.
This was a pretty good shop considering I got Tostitos with no coupons, it essentially used up my overage from the SAL coupon. Now we have plenty of soup after the deals the last couple weeks, and canned vegetables too.  I spent less than a dollar and saved 98%.
Q details
Temptations Cat treats
$1/1 PQ + $0.50/1 12-2SS
Kraft BBQ sauce BOGO
Milk Smart Balance 1/2 gal
$1/1 PQ + BOGO MQ FB print
Campbells Go Soup
$2/2 PQ + $1/1 MQ FB print
Tostitos chips BOGO
Nature Made MagOx
$2/1 MQ print + $3/1 PQ GAB
Save A Lot $5 off $25
$5/25 facebook print


Are You Locked In?

I am not delighted to tell you that we have renewed our cable and Internet package with Verizon. We now have less services, but it costs more. Go figure - less for more. Not exactly the way a frugal household likes to operate. We have had heated discussions with each other, and company representatives letting them know how undelighted we are. After the honeymoon of the being a new customer to FIOS a couple years ago, we now feel locked in. But we don't like it. And just so you know, before you get that big fancy HDTV - you're going to want to have the hundreds of cool HD channels that the big conglomerates offer for a high price. But when you get it, watch out.

In my opinion, Verizon just doesn't care about one little customer. They figure we're locked and that's that. When you believe your customers have no real choice, either because they've signed a long term contract, or the technology locks them in, or they're stranded in Okeechobee with no other options, you're likely to move away from delighting them.

This is the story of Verizon and Microsoft and Apple. When you believe that people are stuck with no options, it's not important to keep convincing them to stay there. And while you might be correct that this particular customer is locked in, it doesn't mean she doesn't have friends, colleagues or a blog. Word of mouth and recommendations don't come with a lock-in feature.

There are choices in all decisions, and it's essential to know what you're getting into when you buy that Windows computer, or HDTV, or Ipad. Getting locked in with a vendor that doesn't play well with others, or limits my choices is not going to sit well very long. Sometimes it is the low price that keeps you locked in, sometimes it is the cool, satisfying product you touch, and sometimes its because it "fits" in your system and communicates well with all your other stuff. I have found there are dissatisfiers with all my products and vendors, but usually it is not enough to seek alternatives. But sometimes it is.

So, before your contracts are up - investigate your options. Ask your neighbors and friends what service provider they utilize. Take their recommendations with a grain of salt though. Investigate reviews on the Internet, Google it and read some stuff. Find out the rules - how can you be considered a new customer again - how long do you need to stray? What will competitors offer you?
Be informed before you decided to get locked in, again.

Merry Christmas

We wish all of those celebrating, a very Merry Christmas!

May your day be filled with wonderful company, great gifts, good food, and holiday cheer.

Paid $0.22 on My Publix Trip

This is a great week for sales, so get out there and get your stuff before it ends early on Monday. I'm trying to think back and I think Publix just repeats the same ad for next week, but maybe I'm mixing that up with Easter. Anyway, I spent $0.22 and saved $94.65 for over a 99% savings rate.
20-Dec 46   94.65 37.81 58.50 tax 0.22 48 -99.76%
Product qty price subtl B1G1 -Q 1.88 total Q# Q details
bananas 2 0.30 0.60       0.60    
Temptations Cat Treats BOGO 10 1.50 15.00 7.50 15.00 0.98 -6.53 20 $1/1 PQ paws + $0.50/1 12-2RP
french fried onions 2 2.99 5.98   2.00   3.98 2 $1/1 MQ 11-04ss
gravy heinz 12 oz 3 0.99 2.97   1.00   1.97 1 $1/3 MQ print
Publix butter 1 2.50 2.50       2.50    
Hummus Sabra BOGO 2 3.99 7.98 3.99 2.00   1.99 2 $1/1 MQ all the trimmings
Mayo Kraft 30oz BOGO 2 4.49 8.98 4.49 5.50   -1.01 4 $0.75/1 PQ stock up bk + $2/1 MQ print
Milk SB 1/2 gal 2 2.50 5.00 2.50 2.00   0.50 3 $1/1 PQ all the trimmings + BOGO MQ fb
cooking soups campbells 12 1.25 15.00 7.50 8.00   -0.50 5 $2/4 PQ email best meals+ $1/5 MQ print
Del Monte green beans 2 1.39 2.78 1.39     1.39    
Olay facial cleanser 2.50 off 2 6.99 13.98 5.00 12.00 0.91 -2.11 4 $5/1 MQ 11-25PG + $1/1 PQ stock up bk
Mama Fran Parmesan Cheese 1 3.00 3.00   2.00   1.00 2 $1/1 MQ print + $1/1 PQ all the trimmings
Breakstones Sour Cream BOGO 2 2.45 4.90 2.45 2.00   0.45 2 $1/1 MQ print
Bertolli Pasta Sauce BOGO 2 2.99 5.98 2.99 2.00   0.99 2 $1/1 PQ email best meals
Save A Lot $5 off $25 1 0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5/25 facebook print