Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts

This week's Random Tuesday is coming to you from South Florida!  I'm currently on a business trip back to my previous home town of 14 years.  It sure is nice to come back here for a week.  It's more about the nostalgia of visiting an office of people who I've worked with for 15 years and driving to all the places I'm familiar with.  I haven't even been to the beach yet or seen a lizard!

I flew in on Sunday and my family brought me to the airport with the caveat that they get to run around the airport and play Pokemon Go.  I quite nearly missed my flight because we were having so much fun!  I had 40 minutes before departure when I stepped into security, good thing I'm Pre-TSA approved!!!

I was hoping to find some unique Pokemon here but nothing has turned up yet.

When I checked into my hotel, which was paid for through Hotels.com, I asked if my room was quiet (I'm sure they get tired of hearing that) and the lady assured me it's quiet.  She put me right smack in front of the elevators so it's anything but quiet!  I'm in a suite so the front room catches all the noise and I don't hear anything at night.  Still I think it's kinda funny that she would deadpan that it's a quiet room knowing I'm right in front of the elevators.  I thought about changing rooms but I'm kinda lazy about repacking at this point.  Maybe if I get one more fighting couple outside my door I'll reconsider.  Note to self, next hotel you actually have to tell them to please put you far far away from the elevators (second note, Hotels.com do not ensure priority room placement).

Next on my agenda is visiting the Boca Mall, I'm not big on malls but this one has a few things I need and I know exactly where to go to get them.

Hope y'all have a great Random Tuesday!

Stacy Uncorked

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship. -Benjamin Franklin

One month ago, I wrote a post about finding ways to save money.  It involved consigning, returning things, closing Netflix streaming and cutting back on energy use.

Here are the results of our cutbacks:

1.  Netflix streaming - kids are sad, it's Halloween season and they can't stream their favorites.  I found another deal where I can get Hulu.com for $5.99 per month and I'll get $25 back through my AMEX card by 2/4/17.  I'd post the deal but it expired yesterday.  So parents are happy because we can stream our favorite shows after the kids go to bed.  Kids are sad but they now have Hulu and Amazon Prime, I think they will live.

2.  Energy usage - well, I've gone around the house turning off lights but I don't know if we've saved anything yet.  It's more of a good long-term habit to have.  I've also moved my office to the basement where it's cooler, so I don't notice the lack of air conditioning upstairs.

3.  Returns - I ended up keeping the trashcan I was going to return last month, because it has a lid and the original intention was to keep our 21 month old out of the trash.

4.  Consigning - the show starts this coming weekend and I'm up to $1,445.00!  This has basically taken over my evenings Monday - Friday for the past month in tagging, boxing and sorting clothes but I figure all I'm normally doing is watching TV during those hours so might as well be productive!

This past month has made us more intentional and careful about what we spend and our food spending came down $100.00.  It's still not down to the target I set, but I'll take $100 for progress!

Here are a few other ways where we've discovered savings:

1.  Costco Diapers VS Amazon Diapers
We usually buy our diapers from Costco but this month husband forgot, our Costco is 30 minutes away so we don't want to spend the gas to run back but thankfully Costco offers free shipping on diapers so I offered to go online and buy them – but wait – let’s cross check what Amazon offers for diapers first!  

It turns out Amazon Pamper diapers are significantly cheaper with the Amazon Family plan, which is already part of Amazon Prime and the only hitch is a monthly subscription which can be canceled any time.  Well, baby is only 21 months old so we’ll probably need diapers for the next year so this works out well for us.  

Here is the savings:
  • Costco Size 3 Diapers $38.99 per month, $0.19 per diaper (this month with coupon $34.99, $0.17 per diaper)
  • Amazon Family with 20% savings $26.18, $0.15 per diaper (I also got a first time buyer coupon of $2 that brought the final price down to 25.64 with tax.
2.  Lowe's Returns
I've heard Lowe's will take back dead plants for up to a year!  I'm not willing to wait that long.  Every time I have a plant from Lowe's die, I take it back!  Recent return was $10.60!

3.  Coffee downgrade
I was buying Starbucks Espresso to make my Pioneer Women Iced Coffee because I tried Cafe Bustelo once and it was kinda harsh.  I decided to give it one more try and it was much better, maybe I didn't filter it well enough before, anyway it turned out awesome and lasted an entire month.  Starbucks Espresso costs $12.95 for a 1lb bag at Target Starbucks.  Cafe Bustelo at Shop 'N Save cost $3.99!  That's almost $9 in savings per month!

4.  Ebates!
Ebates is a website that helps you earn a small percentage for online purchases.   You have to create an account on Ebates first, then select the online company you want to buy from, after clicking on the company it will open that company's page and Ebates will pay you a small percentage that varies per company.  I find it really hard to remember to do this, but recently I've been more careful and have actually earned a few dollars.  If you click on my link and create an account I'll earn $25.

5.  Target Flu Shot
Target is giving $5.00 for all flu shots given.  I don't think they will accept children because they are supposed to go to their primary pediatrician but we could get $10 with two adults and I'm pretty sure our insurance covers this for free.

I'm writing these posts as a way to encourage myself and others to keep looking for ways to save money.  In our home, we've been following a tight budget for 8 years and we are still finding small ways to compromise and save money.

Note: The Amazon link in this post is an affiliate link.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Review of Pinecone Research

I've been hearing about Pinecone Research for quite some time - Money Saving Mom has recommended them along with The Penny Hoarder.  Is it worth the effort?  I had to find out!

For some reason it was very challenging to set up an account, every time I followed the first email's instructions, I'd get a page saying I my log-in details were invalid.  I wrote to the person who sends the survey's twice before finally getting a request for my birth date.  One day later I got an email telling me to try again and at this point I was able to reset the log-in information and do 2 survey's.

The first survey asked me to download a program that would scan my Amazon purchases for the past year and upload the information for researchers to analyze.  This process took about 20 minutes and I was surprised to see that I've sent $1000 in one year's time.  I was also emailed an excel sheet with the information.  Part of these purchases are for work and reimbursed.  For the survey I was paid $3.00.

I did a 2nd survey for 200 points that took less than 5 minutes.  The points can be used for gift cards.  I've got my eye on a Starbucks gift card that is 500 points for $5.00.

I guess for a few minutes of time and willingness to share information I could earn enough for one cup of Starbucks coffee per month!  You can also get $3.00 Visa cards with 300 points.  Most survey's seem to be around 300 points so that's basically like getting $3.00 per survey.

My summary is that it took some effort to get started but seems like it might pay off nicely with just a few minutes of effort.  If I can do this while watching a TV show in the evening then I'm happy.

Giant Homegrown Sweet Poatoes

Who knew these giant sweet potatoes were growing in the ground all summer?  I love the mystery of gardening earth vegetables, you never know what you're going to get until it's dug up.  The biggest is 3lbs 5.6oz, can't find these in stores!

Total weight 20lbs 10oz

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Today on Random Tuesday, I want to talk about my favorite fall things!

1.  Orange Mushrooms - they come up every October in our front yard.  They are just so cute and seasonally orange.  I love them.

2.  Speaking of orange, I love this little orange ghost.  It's from TY, and can also be found on Amazon.

3.  Pumpkins of course!  I celebrated October 1st by baking 2 pumpkins the night before, draining them overnight and then making pumpkin pie, pumpkin sheet cake and pumpkin muffins!  I love baking with fresh pumpkin!!

4.  Check out this little cutie in orange!

5.  Sweet Potatoes!  We've got a bumper crop this year and these things are the biggest I've ever seen!  I can't wait to update my "Garden to Table" link with favorite sweet potato recipes!!

6.  Cider - because Fall is more than orange things!  My husband lamented the overuse of Pumpkin spice this season so I'm on a mission to put apples on our menu!

Stacy Uncorked

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Walk to the Park

My kids do not have school on Friday's.  Somehow the school worked out a schedule where they go slightly longer M-Th and they've reached the requisite number of school days so Friday they get a few hours of home-school work and the rest is play time!

Since I work from home, I like to take an hour off to play with them. Today they convinced me to run to the park at 10am and while there explore cat tails.

They've gotten really good at lining up for photos.  The baby gets front and center and gives me a big ol' grin.  I'm loving it!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Also known as Taco Tuesday since the Lego movie came out and yes, we actually do eat Taco's every Tuesday.  It makes meal planning easy when there are several set days, I learned that from my mom.

For this week of Random Tuesday I have this lovely sign to present from Sonic in Tennessee, where we broke down this past summer for 3 days while waiting for our van to be fixed.

Stacy Uncorked

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sculpting With Kids 20mo - 8 years old

My husband and I are both artists but we both did art by ourselves as kids with whatever we could get our hands on.

As parents of 4 small children, we feel responsible to teach art and encourage them in a wide range of artistic endeavors.  I have no doubt that they will figure it out for themselves if they are so inclined, but I'd like to think that an early start will give them more confidence in trying new artistic mediums.  When I was younger I just assumed each art style was a singular pursuit, like if you were a painter then you only painted and so forth.

We can see that some of our kids are more artistically inclined but they all take an interest so we end up doing an art project and adjusting them for everyone's needs and age.

20 month old toddler through 4 year old's use Play Doh:

Older kid, 6 - 8, are starting to use adult clay's like Sculpey and Premo which get finer detail and require them to use more tools and techniques.

The Sculpey clay came with reference that the kids used to create these sculptures and I think once they gain confidence they will create their own characters.

I'm feeling a little rusty but the best way to teach is to sculpt along with them so here is my little aardvark:

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.