My Publix Trip 0.87 plus tax

My Publix shop this week is a little late because I've never been able to find the Glade Plugins. The shelves have been empty since the sale started but those trusty Publix trucks delivered fresh stock for the shelves today, at least in one of the three stores I went to. I did happen to get some of the new MomSaver booklets from the demonstration lady at one store.

I split my order to be able to use more than one $5 off $40 coupon, but my other order isn't listed here. I used a raincheck for the Glade to allow me to use the Purple Flyer Publix coupon that expired yesterday, although the LU# was still active in the register so I probably could have saved the raincheck. My order total was $3.08 and I saved $72.28, a savings of 95%.

Green Bean Casserole with Outback Fried Bloomin Onions

Green Bean Casserole is everyone's favorite #recipe, whether its for a holiday meal or just as a vegetable side dish. I tried a new twist with my green bean casserole this time by making it using our left over Outback Fried Bloomin' Onion we got free from the recent Flugtag "The Onion Flew" promotion. And this isn't the first free Outback Bloomin' Onion we've gotten this summer, since Ryan Newman has Outback for a sponsor they've been giving away free onions every Monday after Ryan comes in the top ten finishes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. It's actually very frugal to prepare since you can always get canned vegetables and soup very cheap with coupons, especially now in the fall.

Here's the Recipe for Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions:

2 cans green beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup of milk
1/4 - 1/3 leftover bloomin fried onion from Outback (Or Frenches Fried Onions like the real recipe)
Sprinkle of black pepper

Instructions: Mix the soup and the milk in a container. Take half of your fried onions and mix with the green beans in a 1 1/2 quart glass pan. Pour the mushroom soup mixture over the beans and sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Add the remainder of the fried onions on top of the casserole and continue baking a couple more minutes. Serves 4

Disclosure: this is NOT a sponsored post, I just like this recipe.

FREE BEER At Busch Gardens Tampa

remember the free beer samples at Busch Gardens??

Who doesn't love #free stuff? Remember when I told you about the cool promotion at Busch Gardens Tampa in July and August? Well, they're back at it for September and October. This months promotion if you're a season pass holder is a free 6 x 8 photo - each day! That's right you can get a photo one day on Kumba roller coaster, the next day you could get one on Gwazi, and the next day on Montu; or you could get one by the adventure photo staff as you walk in the front entrance. Anyway, this is a great way to get some nice photos taken.

Jerry the bartender at the former Hospitality House
I can't wait for October though. Busch Gardens is having their own sort of Octoberfest by providing season pass holders with a FREE BEER at Crown Colony House, or any other beer stand each and everyday in October 2013. They haven't offered #free beer since Feb 1, 2010 when they ended their free samples of fine libations. But now is your chance to catch up. You can get 2 ten oz samples or 1 20oz beer (Budweiser, Bud Light or Leinenkugel) between 11 am and 4 pm.

How great is that, just like old times.

My Publix Trip - Paid Six Cents

Just a quick trip to get salad. Broke up a raincheck for Buitoni since they only had 4, and there were no other moneymakers except the Rachel Ray dog food. Spent $0.06 and Saved $45.41.

Save On Repairs with YouTube Instructional Videos

We have really old cars (1998 truck, and 2004 sedan) which both have about 80,000 miles so they have a lot of life in them yet. Unfortunately, with the constant Florida sunshine the plastic covers of the headlights gets yellow and cloudy. To improve visibility during driving, and to improve the aesthetic look of the vehicles we wanted to replace those old yellow lights with new ones. Additionally, the fifteen year old truck has badly worn out cruise control switches that were still operational, but the plastic had become tacky and essentially the on/off button disintegrated with age.

Since neither of these upgrades were needed for safety or operation, only our desire to be vain and have our vehicles look newer was the motivation. Therefore, it had to be frugal to undertake, and that meant we would do it ourselves. One of the things we've discovered over the past few years is that there is a YouTube video out there showing you how to do almost anything. And if there isn't a video, you can make one to help others. Which is what we did.

To undertake a task you are not familiar with, requires you to research and investigate - and the internet is a great place to do this. I do this a lot when I'm trying to figure out how to change a setting on my blog, or to clean an A/C unit, or repair a vehicle. If you need a part for your repair, google it along with the item's name that you need the part for i.e., truck, tractor, cd player, refrigerator. Once you determine that you can obtain the part you need to replace, you need to figure out how to replace it. This is where YouTube comes in handy. But YouTube is not very organized so you need to try a lot of different search terms and view a lot of videos that won't solve your problem. There are a lot of procedures that would work for your Ford truck, but they may be titled with Mercury truck (which is the same manufacturer). Hopefully, eventually you'll find one that suits your purpose.

One of the car repairs we did was replace the cruise control switch that disintegrated on our Ford truck. There was no video we could find on YouTube, so we created our own. Actually, we found instructions and then when we were ready to do the job, I videoed it on my phone. Its not a very pretty video, but if you don't have a clue where to begin, it is helpful. Its short and sweet and choppy, but its getting a lot of views.

So in the last month, thanks to YouTube we have saved a bunch of money by fixing things ourselves. We replaced the headlights on both vehicles for about 100 dollars each, plus about 40 minutes labor. We also replaced the cruise control switches in about 10 minutes for 77 dollars. And we cleaned out our A/C coils for about 15 dollars and a couple hours of labor, plus just last weekend we replaced the clutch cable on the lawn tractor for 11 dollars and about a half hour of labor.

How much have you saved using YouTube instructional videos?

Publix Taste-Of-The-World Flavor Excursion Promotion #MyBlogSpark

Publix Taste Of The World Sale
Disclosure - Sponsored

Did you get the Flavor Excursion sale booklet in your paper Sunday? Publix is having their Publix Flavor Excursion Promotion is through September 18th, and you can explore Tastes from around the World, and save even more with coupons. Some of the recipes are for Arroz Con Pollo, Easy Curry Chicken and Garden Primavera Pasta with Chicken. Besides awesome deals on your favorite foods, there's also a great Publix Flavor Excursion Sweeps to enter! 500 folks will win a $100 Publix gift card! I would love to win this one.
You can too, just go here and enter the Publix Flavor Excursion Sweepstakes. While you are there you can also check out out the great recipes brought to you by General Mills, Kraft, Campbell’s and Red Gold.
Inspired by recipes from around the world, your family will love these fun new tastes, and you’ll love the savings! Here are a few of the deals from this promo on sale right now at Publix -
Old El Paso Taco Shells, 4.6 to 6.89 oz, Tortillas 12 ct, Refried Beans 16 oz, Enchilada Sauce 10 oz, or Taco Sauce 8 oz, 4/$5-$0.50/1 Old El Paso Products (Excl Refrigerated, Frozen, or Soup) (Zip Code 77477)
-$0.60/3 Old El Paso Products, Any (Excl Refrigerated, Frozen Or Soup) – 09/08/13 SS Insert
-$0.60/3 Old El Paso, excluding refrigerated, frozen or soup 08/04/2013 SS Insert
-$0.60/3 Old El Paso Products (excluding Refrigerated, Frozen or Soup) - Publix Digital Coupon
-$1/3 Old El Paso® products, excl kits Publix Coupon Best Meals Happen At Home email
Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls, Grands Biscuits, or Grands Junior, 4 to 12 oz, 10/$10 -$2/3 Pillsbury Refrigerated Dough Items Make Your Home Italian Tonight Publix Coupon or PRINT
-$1/3 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls or Breads Publix Coupon Flavor Excursion Booklet
-$1/3 Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls, excludes Twin Pack (zip 30187)
-$1/4 Pillsbury Refrigerated Grands or Grands Jr. Biscuits (zip 30187)
-$1/2 Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls (excludes Twin Pack)
-$1/2 Pillsbury Sweet Rolls OR Grands Sweet Rolls
-$1/3 Pillsbury Refrigerated Grands or Grands Jr. Biscuits
-$0.50/2 Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls - Publix Digital Coupon
-$0.40/2 Pillsbury Sweet Rolls - Publix Digital Coupon
-$0.40/3 Pillsbury Grands! rolls - Publix Digital Coupon

Visit | Also, find Publix on Facebook
Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix through MyBlogSpark. All opinions are my own.

My Profitable Publix Trip 09/12/13

My Publix Trip 09/12/13

My grocery shopping planning was busy this week. Earlier in the week I was fretting since I didn't have any of the Buitoni MQs as they weren't in the inserts our area gets, but a nice person on FB sent me a link to print the MQs on the Target Site. So I was pleasantly surprised that the store was stocked since it was so late in the day. As it turns out, I think Publix is expecting this item to be popular this week, so they have plenty in the back. So if the small display area in the store is empty, be sure to ask them to check the back. This was a nice moneymaker this week and paid for the salad fixings this week.

There is also a new coupon on the Safeway site that is for Fresh Express salad kits. The manufacturer coupon states for Safeway stores but this Publix is okay with this since its a valid MQ. Anyway, this makes for free lettuce. I also used a $10 off $50 Whole Foods coupon which I found in the local Temple Terrace News magazine, if you see it around. The USF store has started taking Whole Foods as a competitor since they built the store in Carrollwood which is kind of nearby.

If you look carefully in the picture, you'll see we got the wrong size Pillsbury products. I was sorting coupons and DH was in charge of getting 6 of the crescent rolls, but he picked up the $2 packages (8oz), rather than the one dollar packages (4 oz). We ended up exchanging them later for the correct size since this product to me is not even worth the dollar it would have been after the coupon - but for free or MM I'll use them for something.

We also picked up a $10 Gift Card to use up our remaining overage since we had all the produce we needed this trip. Hopefully, you already were aware the Seafood Publix coupon from last week was a misprint and is actually $2 off $2 like usual. The stores are aware of this and I have not had any issues using mine this week. You still have through Saturday to use them. The Shrimp skewers are a dollar a piece (5 pieces of shrimp) so that's not a bad way to go.

So in the end, it cost $1.73 for this shop, plus the $10 Gift Card, and we saved 98% ($96.64).

Frugal Home Maintenance - Clean Your A/C Coils

We came home from a motorcycle ride on last weekend, and the house felt warm. I checked the air conditioner thermostat and it was 84F! We usually set our thermostat to 79F which is a frugal setting in Florida. We have a lot of appliances, pumps and electronics sucking our electricity everyday, so we try to conserve where we can - which is the air conditioning. But one frugal thing we should have done a long time ago, is to maintain the evaporator coils in the inside A frame air conditioner unit. We never cleaned it after our big remodel last summer and it was a dust fest in here while we installed drywall, painted, sanded and installed carpet and tile throughout most of the house. Consequently, our poor A/C has been working very hard to pull clean air through those caked up coils.

I first noticed last week when we had the thermostat set at 79, and the temp inside was 81. And the unit just seemed to run all the time, but it was not very efficient. I suggested to my husband, we needed to change the filter. But it didn't happen. When we finally did change the filter, it wasn't really that dirty so I knew it was a bigger problem than a dirty filter. So, with the filter removed it was possible to peek into the unit and see the real problem - a layer of iced up frozen dust and grime.

If you have this problem, you can simply clean the evaporator coils yourself and save yourself a couple hundred dollars on an AC service call. If you clean your coils and still have a problem reaching temp, then it is possible you have depleted some freon (if icing coils reappear), and you'll need to call a service guy.

Anyway, it's not hard to clean the coils, we just looked up a couple youtube videos on how to clean AC coils. You probably will only need to clean the underside of the A frame coils where the air is pulled through. The top side of ours was clean. We ran to the home improvement store and purchased a water based cleaning spray that was a foaming cleanser, it stated self rinsing so no water flush would be necessary. It cost $5.48. We also purchased a roll of metal tape to seal up the AC cabinet seams for $7.48.

  1. Turn off AC at thermostat. Gather your safety gear - eye protection, face mask and something to cover your hair from debris (a hat or hanky). You will also need a flashlight, stiff brush, cleansing spray, plastic sheeting and pans to collect debris, metal tape, and a household fan.
  2. Line the area under your A frame unit with plastic, then place pans or wash tubs under to collect the melting ice, water and grime.
  3. If iced up, melt ice using a hair dryer. Do not damage the evaporator fins by chipping away ice, just be patient and melt it.
  4. Using a stiff plastic brush (I used an plastic old dish washing brush with a long handle), dip it in water and brush down the big grime and dust layer toward the drip tray.
  5. When you can see the coils and they are kind of clear of debris, don your safety gear and spray the foaming cleanser all over the coils.on the underside of the A frame. Let it sit for five or more minutes until the foam has mostly dissipated. Then take your stiff brush and clean the remaining dirt from the coils. I also had to use a 2 ft long shish kabob poker to dislodge dirt from the top apex of the inside of the unit.
  6. If you have an air compressor, it will make cleaning and drying the unit easy. We used compressed air to blow out all remaining dirt and used it to help dry the evaporator fins. You must dry your unit completely before starting up again, or you risk icing up.
  7. Dry your AC evaporator coils with a household fan pointed in there to remove all moisture. We have a large window fan we pointed up there for an hour before we started up the unit.
  8. Replace your cabinet panels and tape seams shut with metal AC tape. Replace the air filter.
  9. Turn on your thermostat. Wait several hours for it to reach temp. Ours lowered the temp 1 degree in 30 minutes, but then next degree took an hour. 
  10. After a couple hours of your AC unit running, check the coils by removing your air filter and peek up into the unit to make sure the coils are not iced up. If not, just be patient - its working.
So, it took a good portion of our weekend day; but we feel more empowered and of course will do this simple maintenance job more frequently in the future.

Power of Attorney & Health care Directive - Two Docs You Need Now!

Why You need a Healthcare directive
Unexpected situations can happen to anyone and unfortunately if you're not prepared, the situation is going to be worse than it needs to be. Anyone can become a victim of an accident or suffer a debilitating injury, or health condition like a heart attack, stroke or brain injury. If this happens and you do not have a Power of Attorney agent assigned to you, your finances will come to a stand still. No one can move your money around to pay bills, or sell that boat or motorcycle you'll never ride again, or negotiate with your mortgage holder, or refinance your loans.

Likewise if you've been incapacitated due to a health condition or accident, and you've been rushed to the hospital and are hooked up on feeding tubes. colonoscopy bags, breathing tubes, IV drugs and sedatives - it would be nice if you had signed a health care directive to let your caretakers know and prove what your wishes are as far as health care. It would be important to know if you have a DNR (Do not resuscitate) order in the event you are being kept alive solely by machines.

Unfortunately, I know someone who has suffered a stroke and is in the hospital in ICU and has no will, no health care directive and no power of attorney. He was the sole income earner in his household with his wife and four children. They have no savings, tens of thousands due in credit card bills and when he quits getting paychecks shortly (no sick pay at his job which was largely commission with a modest base salary), they will not have a means to pay the large mortgage. The wife can't refinance the mortgage without his signature, can't sell the boat he bought last month, and can't sell the house. All because he is unable to sign and make these decisions now.

So, to avoid being in this dire situation, you need to have two documents signed and notarized in your possession. Simply search google Power of Attorney, and add your state like Florida. There are many free forms available for review and completion and downloading to your computer. Make a folder on your desktop that others can find. Print and sign the copies and make a real paper folder to put in the front of your filing system. You want others to be able to find your documents in you become incapacitated. Tell others what your wishes are and make sure your "power of attorney" agent has a signed copy in their possession. While you're at it, you need to search google health care directive Florida too, and do the same - complete and download the form, get it signed and notarized and give a signed copy to your health care agents.

Of course, there are other important documents you need completed too - like your last will and testament, a motor vehicle power of attorney form (so your vehicles can be sold) and a personal property inventory list.  But if you complete the Power of Attorney and Health care Directive now, you can help your caretakers act immediately to save your financial situation from ruin.

When Paying The Mortgage Is Impossible

mortgage trouble

This information from the consumer federal trade commission is helpful if you're having trouble paying your mortgage.

If you are having trouble making your payments, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options as early as you can. The longer you wait to call, the fewer options you will have.
Many loan servicers are expanding the options available to borrowers – it’s worth calling your servicer even if your request has been turned down before. Servicers are getting lots of calls: Be patient, and be persistent if you don’t reach your servicer on the first try.
  • You may qualify for a loan modification under the Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) if:
  • your home is your primary residence;
  • you owe less than $729,750 on your first mortgage;
  • you got your mortgage before January 1, 2009;
  • your payment on your first mortgage (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, if applicable) is more than 31 percent of your current gross income; and
  • you can’t afford your mortgage payment because of a financial hardship, like a job loss or medical bills.
If you meet these qualifications, contact your servicer. You will need to provide documentation that may include:
  • information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs.
  • your most recent income tax return.
  • information about your savings and other assets.
  • your monthly mortgage statement.
  • information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on your home.
  • account balances and minimum monthly payments due on your credit cards.
  • account balances and monthly payments on your other debts, like student loans or car loans.
  • a completed Hardship Affidavit describing the circumstances responsible for the decrease in your income or the increase in your expenses.
For more information, visit Making Home Affordable.
If you’re interested in refinancing to take advantage of lower mortgage rates, but are afraid you won’t qualify because your home value has decreased, you may want to ask if you qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) or the HOPE for Homeowners (H4H) program. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Avoiding Default and Foreclosure

If you have fallen behind on your payments, consider discussing the following foreclosure prevention options with your loan servicer:
Reinstatement: You pay the loan servicer the entire past-due amount, plus any late fees or penalties, by a date you both agree to. This option may be appropriate if your problem paying your mortgage is temporary.
Repayment plan: Your servicer gives you a fixed amount of time to repay the amount you are behind by adding a portion of what is past due to your regular payment. This option may be appropriate if you’ve missed a small number of payments.

Forbearance: Your mortgage payments are reduced or suspended for a period you and your servicer agree to. At the end of that time, you resume making your regular payments as well as a lump sum payment or additional partial payments for a number of months to bring the loan current. Forbearance may be an option if your income is reduced temporarily (for example, you are on disability leave from a job, and you expect to go back to your full time position shortly). Forbearance isn’t going to help you if you’re in a home you can’t afford.

Loan modification: You and your loan servicer agree to permanently change one or more of the terms of the mortgage contract to make your payments more manageable for you. Modifications may include reducing the interest rate, extending the term of the loan, or adding missed payments to the loan balance. A modification also may involve reducing the amount of money you owe on your primary residence by forgiving, or cancelling, a portion of the mortgage debt. Under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, the forgiven debt may be excluded from income when calculating the federal taxes you owe, but it still must be reported on your federal tax return. For more information, see A loan modification may be necessary if you are facing a long-term reduction in your income or increased payments on an ARM.
Before you ask for forbearance or a loan modification, be prepared to show that you are making a good-faith effort to pay your mortgage. For example, if you can show that you’ve reduced other expenses, your loan servicer may be more likely to negotiate with you.

Selling your home: Depending on the real estate market in your area, selling your home may provide the funds you need to pay off your current mortgage debt in full.

Bankruptcy: Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far-reaching. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to get credit, buy another home, get life insurance, or sometimes, get a job. Still, it is a legal procedure that can offer a fresh start for people who can’t satisfy their debts.
If you and your loan servicer cannot agree on a repayment plan or other remedy, you may want to investigate filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have a regular income, Chapter 13 may allow you to keep property, like a mortgaged house or car, that you might otherwise lose. In Chapter 13, the court approves a repayment plan that allows you to use your future income toward payment of your debts during a three-to-five-year period, rather than surrender the property. After you have made all the payments under the plan, you receive a discharge of certain debts.

To learn more about Chapter 13, visit the U.S. Trustee Program, the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees bankruptcy cases and trustees.

If you have a mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Administration (VA), you may have other foreclosure alternatives.

Contacting Your Loan Servicer

Before you have any conversation with your loan servicer, prepare. Record your income and expenses, and calculate the equity in your home. To calculate the equity, estimate the market value less the balance of your first and any second mortgage or home equity loan.
Then, write down the answers to the following questions:
  • What happened to make you miss your mortgage payment(s)? Do you have any documents to back up your explanation for falling behind? How have you tried to resolve the problem?
  • Is your problem temporary, long-term, or permanent? What changes in your situation do you see in the short term, and in the long term? What other financial issues may be stopping you from getting back on track with your mortgage?
  • What would you like to see happen? Do you want to keep the home? What type of payment arrangement would be feasible for you?