Sunday, July 31, 2011

Husbands Are Stupid...or...How To Waste $400

So we've had an elephant in our livingroom for the last 5 years.  If you've never been to my house you might be thinking its some ugly carpet waiting to be torn out or a crack in our plaster.  WRONG!  It's our TV/Entertainment center.  Due to its size it was caddycorner and took up a ton of room!  We've been talking for over a year now about getting a nice wall mount slim line TV and re-arranging our living room setup. 

Well after we got some money in our hot little hands, who in our house did what? 
I bought a vacuum.  A sound investment considering we have 2 pets and 2 kids. 
Josh bought a plasma TV.  And not just any TV...a freakin' monstrosity that is now mounted in the same corner.  Honestly, the picture is great.  Trying to rearrange our lighting so there isn't a glare isn't.  Also, he hasn't figured out how to hide any of the cords yet, so they are just dangling there looking like shit.  Glad we make sure our house all looks nice to have that there.  Plus now we have this totally awkward space we don't quite know what to do with. 

See what I mean...stupid
I tried for 2 hours prior to him wasting our $400 to not buy this TV.  That I'd rather wait until we had the money to set the room up right to buy it.  But you know when it comes to stuff like this, you just can't change their minds.  So here we sit, practically staring at the ceiling to watch TV because he mounted it too high.  With our livingroom looking like crap.  But what can you do...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thrifting Done Right - St Louise's Thrift Shop on O Street

It's probably been 10 years since I stopped in here, but with back to school quickly approaching, and a fancy dinner for my husband's work right around the corner, I figured I'd stop on in to St. Louise's Thrift Shop on O Street here in Lincoln, NE.
The lovely St Louise herself

It was a dream experience.  Everything was neatly organized.  It didn't stink of must & dust like the Goodwill does and truly, the prices were excellent.  I swear, if there was anything you needed, they had it.  From name brand clothes to books to dishes and furniture. 

There were womens jeans (some that I know retail between $50 and $90 at Von Maur) for $4.50!  Unfortunatley the pair that fit me perfectly had a tear in the crotch.  I'm no Martha Stewart, and I couldn't fix that to save my life, so it would be $4.50 wasted.

I did hit the jackpot with a beautiful geometric print dress from Talbots that based on their on-line prices, was probably a $60 purchase.  9 smackeroos!  And honestly, it's the best I've felt in a dress in a long time, I couldn't pass it up.
Really, how awesome is this?

2 pairs of pants for Elliott caught my eye...a dark khaki pair from Gymboree and a light green cargo pair from the Gap.  I'm ballparking the original price at $30-$40.  I paid $5.  And for adjustable waist pants with no visible problems, you can't pass that up.

Also, I found in the back furniture section a Boon Frog Pod.  I've wanted one of these since Elliott was a baby, but I REFUSE to pay $35 for something to hold bath toys.  Thanks to this lovely thrifters paradise I paid a scant $3 for it!  Yippee for a mess free tub!

Last but not least a few books for the kiddos.  "What Was That" (I think we had this book when we were kids", "No Roses for Harry" from the "Harry the Dirty Dog" series, "The World of Science", an amazing picture book with great stories for my budding scientist.  And my personal favorite, "Shapes" by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Freakin' awesome pictures and educational too.  I haven't been able to tear Elliott away from his colors and notebooks lately, so this should serve as some wonderful inspiration!

All of these lovely finds, a clean dressing room to try clothes on in, friendly staff and not having to stand out in the heat...totally worth the extra money instead of driving from garage sale to sale.  Because in the end I spent only $24 on all of these wonderful wares.  Not only will I continue to frequent this store, but I think I'll be taking my donations there instead of the Goodwill after this years garage sale. 

So enjoy my frugal friends, and I hope to run into you on O Street!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Debt Ceiling vs American Debts and an Amazing letter for the Love of Our Country

I find it absolutely sickening what has happened to the United States and the spot we stand, on the precipice of economic disaster as the debt ceiling looms over our heads like and old house's basement.  We as Americans have, as of late, been told to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  That while we may declare bankrupcy and loose sometimes our belongings and most of all our pride; that we may not easily begin the road to recovery and good credit. 

Despite my efforts at frugality, we are still battling the demon called bankrupcy.  And while the light is shining at the end of the tunnel, it has been a long journey.  We live on the cash we have.  We have no family to rely on to help with our bills if we come up short.  We have had to scrimp on health insurance to make sure we pay our bills and just do our damndest to keep healthy. 

When this is all finished, its questionable that we will be able to attain a decent loan for a new (to us) car, a home if we decide to get the heck out of Nebraska (please God!), and most of all for the restaurant that Josh and I have been dreaming of for almost 10 years now. 

According to the social morays of America we need to suck it up.  We made mistakes, now we have to suffer the consequences.  Really?  Having a premature child that required 2 weeks of hospitalization and a mother requiring 9 days as well...that was a super poor choice.  Having crappy insurance because that's what our work provides and it's all we can afford?  Again...what were we thinking?

But I digress...So why is it that Americans and America are so vastly different in the respect of how we are expected to handle our finances?  It's perfectly acceptable to the government to continue shelling out salaries to themselves (aka the root of the problem), but threaten Social Security and service men & womens wages.  It's alright to endorse pork belly politics and sneak in benefits in bills that have no business being there just so you'll vote the right way.  And here we've been fighting one of the most misguided wars in American history and just throwing money away left and right.  But instead of an immediate withdraw of troops.  Cutting funding for unnecessary projects and committees or revaming broken programs the solution is to tell Grandma Mabel that she cant afford her heart medication next month because her social security check isn't in the mail? 
What a disgusting double standard. 

I've been disappointed with our government for as long as I could understand that they were working for themselves and not their constituents.  But at this point it's just disrespectful of the American people  as a whole. 

When did the government stop being something worth being proud of and fighting for?  When did what the United States stands for become corruption, greed and capitalism at its worst.  When did the American people take a backseat to the government's agenda?

With all of that said, I am now going to include a letter that (barf), posted recently.  Not only is this one of the finest pieces of writing I have ever had the chance to read, but it quite simply demonstrates the changes in the perception of what is truly worth fighting and dying for.  America used to be a beacon of hope, freedom and wisdom beyond religion and partisan politics.  As Major Sullivan Ballou so finely transcribes,
If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. 
I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt. 

It is an absolute shame that the country we now live in does not instill this kind of passion any longer.  Even though I was raised in a household that too America and patritotism very seriously, even I cannot hold a flame for Old Glory in my heart quite the way I used to.  So read on friends.  Be inspired and hope that some day in our near future America and Americans can once again give us something to be proud of. 

Below is the letter of Major Sullivan Ballou of the Union Army's Second Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteers, to his wife Sarah days before he was killed in the Battle of Bull Run. Ballou wrote the letter on July 14, 1861 while awaiting orders that would take him down to Manassas, Virginia where he was killed on July 28.  Ballou, 32, was a lawyer and father of two small boys, Edgar and Willie, who volunteered to fight for the Union Army. 

My very dear Sarah: 
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days -- perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure -- and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. 
If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. 
I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt. 
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows -- when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children -- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country? 
I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death -- and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee. 
I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles I have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed. 
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield. 
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. 
I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me -- perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar -- that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. 
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! 
How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more. 
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours -- always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. 
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again. 
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. 
Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. 
Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. 
O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children. 

Read more:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whats In My Mailbox - Volume 5

So thrilled when I checked the mailbox today!  A few weeks ago posted that Zebra Pen was giving away a pen pal kit to encourage kids to actually sit down and write letters. 
Now anyone who knows me is aware that I have a serious addiction to office supplies, so I jumped at this offer like a fat kid on an ice cream truck. 
They never notified the 1000 random drawing winners, so I was totally shocked to see this in my mailbox!  It includes packages of: gel pens, bright ball point pens, black animal print ball point pens, highlighters and fun kids mechanical pencils.  In addition there are 10 blank postcards for the lucky kiddo to design and postcard stamps too! 
Elliott has already used ALL the lead in all 5 pencils and is busy working on his postcard doodles.  So now you can be watching your mailbox for a handmade Nightengale original! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WhoNu? - A Review

So when I saw the $1 off coupon in the paper a few weeks ago for WhoNu (nutrition rich cookies) I was pretty skeptical.  Most cookies that tout any sort of nutrition or organic tag taste like a 4 letter word ;)

But when another coupon came out for Buy One Get One Free I thought...well, I'd better give it a try.  HyVee has these cookies on sale 2/$6 right now, so for $1.50 a box, it's worth a shot right?  Right.

We bought the knock off Oreos and the chocolate chip kinds and let me tell you, they are damn fine!  The chocolate chip cookies taste exactly  like Chewy Chips Ahoy (a Nightengale household favorite), and the oreo kind aren't quite the same (as if anything could compare to an oreo cookie). 

But I digress, the best part is the nutrition part.  3 cookies in a serving equals:
As much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal
As much Vitamin C as a cup of blueberries
As much Vitamin A as a 8oz glass of tomato juice
As much Calcium and Vitamin D as an 8oz glass of milk
As much iron as a cup of spinach
As much Vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice
and all for the whopping total of 150 calories. 

Holy crap, I'm never going to buy another cookie again!  Plus they come in a nice resealable package to keep them fresh! 

And just in case you are wondering, WhoNu isn't paying me for my opinion...but they should be.

Friday, July 15, 2011

TGFF: Thank Goodness For Frugality

So yesterday all hell broke loose.  First, my car broke down...twice.  The first time I was @ Hy Vee and it wouldn't start when we were ready to leave.  My AAA membership totally paid off and got me on the road in 20 minutes with a battery jump.

Then we came home & my father in law took a look at my non functioning washing machine.  We were under the impression it just needed a new belt.  WRONG.  He's been an appliance tech for ages and said it's not fixable.  FML (Pardon my French).
Okay, so it wasn't this bad...

So I decide I'm going to load the kids up and check out scratch & dent appliances & Lowes & Home Depot and guess what?  Car won't start AGAIN!!!  So I call AAA and they came and replaced my battery. 
This, my friends, is why I'm frugal and I budget.  Back in my "footloose & fancy free" days, I wouldn't have had the $128 to spend on the battery, but I do. 

Also, my camera is broken.  My baby is about to take her first steps, so whats a mom to do?  I found a great deal on line and I'm headed to pick it up tonight.  $50 (half off at Shopko). 

Now we do have enough socked away that I could by and OK washer today, but I want to find a great washer for an even greater's in my nature, what can I say?  So the frugal side of me cringes at spending $1.75 a load to wash our clothes at the laundromat.  But I know, in the end, it will all work and a week or two being inconvienced will far ourweigh buying a washer that I don't like just to have it.

The moral of the story?  Save when you can,  you never know when  you'll need it.  And don't rush into a big purchase.  I'll be stuck with my new washer a lot longer than the 2 weeks it may take me to find a new one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pay Attention!

If you're like me and always are shopping with your kids, you know that check out is the most stressful time.  Not because I'm sweating and double checking my numbers like the freaks on "Extreme Couponing", but because this is when all the havoc occurs along with mistakes.

Twice today I was mistaken and thank goodness I always review my receipt with a fine tooth comb before I leave the parking lot..

First at Super Target I was buying a pillow.  There was a coupon on Target's website for $2 off a pillow, and they sell some pillows for $2.50, HELLO BARGAIN!  But someone had put a $14.99 pillow in that slot and like an idiot, that's what I checked out with.  Derp.  So I returned that right away, before we even left the store.

Then at CVS I spotted a killer diaper deal.  A box of Pampers for $19.99 with $5 Extra Care Bucks back, plus I had a $4 coupon - Hell Yeah!  Then there was a tag on the diapers that said "Buy One Get One 50% off" Double Hell Yeah!  I also had a $1.50 coupon, so this would make for $24.50 for 2 boxes of diapers plus the $5 back.  Not bad!  Well it didn't ring up that way, but I was again distracted and paid the full $19.99 for both.  We got in the car and I discovered my error so I went back in.  The manager went to the display and brought back the sale tag with the ECB info.  I reiterated the BOGO half off tag and took him back there.  Evidently this tag was supposed to be on the BAGS of diapers and not the boxes, but I told him I'd never have bought those two boxes if it weren't for that sale.  So he refunded me for their mistake.  I wasn't crabby or rude and didn't imply it was their fault, I just explained that I felt he should honor the price on the shelf and he did.

So a big Thank You to CVS for being a pleasant and honest place to shop with awesome deals.  And even more importantly, be your own shopping advocate.  Make sure you are getting what you pay for, and even more importantly, what you  hope NOT to pay for.

What's In My Mailbox - Volume 4

Coupon for free undies from Victorias Secret (no purchase necessary) - score one for me (and Josh)
 - This is from signing up on their website for a Pink Membership or something stupid like that, I just want the free stuff folks

Coupon for free Suave Creamy Body Wash (from a facebook offer)

10 pack of Tide Stain Release Tabs (from a facebook offer)

Not a bad score for a Wednesday afternoon! 

Super Target, You Just Got Owned!

OMG I am so thrilled about my trip to Super Target today.  First of all, my kids behaved the entire time - even in the dressing room.  Say what?  Did Hell freeze over?

So here's what I left the store with (my camera is caput or I'd include a photo):
loaf of bread
dozen eggs
1/2 lb salami
brick cheddar cheese
3 bags of Ore-Ida fries
Suave Cream Body Wash
Coffee Pot
30 CDRs
1 Dress for me
2 Shirts for me

Out of pocket: $24 - again, say what?
So here's the breakdown, first of all, I returned some stuff and had a $20 gift card toward my total, so that $24 isn't as impressive as it sounds.  But here's the other coupons used:
-$1 off WYB (when you buy) both Target Market Pantry bread & eggs (their bread was on sale for $1 so free bread!)
-$1 off WYB both Target Market Pantry lunch meat & cheese
-$1 off 2 Ore-Ida fries plus Target's sale of Buy 2 get 1 free on the fries
- Free Suave Body Wash (this is from some giveaway on their facebook site)
- 20% off Merona item ($2 off the dress - which was originally $40, on sale for $10, so $8 after the coupon)
- $3 off a womens plus size item (the shirt which was originally $20, on sale for $5, so $3 after the coupon)
-$2 off a graphic tee (the tee shirt was originally $10 on sale for $2.50, so 50 cents after the coupon!!)

Even taking into account the gift card, it's still an awesome deal.  I needed the clothes, and god knows we need coffee!!!  Plus the return was on diapers, I was given $9 each, and I never spend more than $5 a pack after coupons, so I still made out like a bandit. 

So with that Super Target, I bitch slap you and scoff "You Got Owned"!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Close, but no gas cap

It was a lofty goal to set for myself to make $10 of gas last for 2 weeks, but I almost made it. 
I walked to work every day.  I walked to Walgreens.  We walked to the park.  I used my husband's truck more than once.  But I didn't quite make it. 
I bought 5 gallons worth of gas yesterday, which put me at 10 days on $10 of gas...
I'm sure not a lot of people in this day in age, or in a city like Lincoln can do that.

This might be a fine time to point out that our mass transit system in Lincoln stinks.  Big time.  Those gigantic busses run around the city empty most of the time wasting gas, but when you need to get somewhere, no routes are near by or they are done for the day/night.  Why don't we downgrade to mini-vans? 

That's all beside the point.  I'm sure there are more ways I can be more gas conscious, and I'm thrilled that as of yesterday Josh started a job where he won't be spending $400 a month on gas.  One small step at the pump, one giant step for the pocketbook!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Diapers...Oy Vey!

If you've got a baby in diapers, you know how expensive that can be.  Also, props to you if you can handle cloth diapers.  Me personally, I've got enough on my plate right now to be rinsing crap off a cloth diaper with a smile on my face.

Anyway, while I like to save as much as I can and generally try to buy the best product for the lowest price, there are some times I will defer.  LUVS are pretty darn good diapers and usually less expensive, but rarely have coupons out.  Huggies usually have great coupons, but they bunch in the crotch and smell weird.  So I usually stick with Pampers.  T

That being said, you really need to keep your eyes open for the deals out there.  CVS and Walgreens run lots of deals on their diapers with their Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards programs, and combined with a coupon, you usually get a good deal.  The best bet is Target, as they will have store coupons that you can "stack" with the manufacturers coupon for double the savings.  So when you're expecting, head to Target and set up a registry, this will get you on the mailer for their excellent store coupons. 

Right now there are some even sweeter deals with Pampers, since the Baby Dry style has coupons inside for $1 off Cheerios.  Even better is that this coupon does not have a size restriction.  So instead of making you buy a $5 box of Cheerios that will get stale by the time you eat it all, you can get a little box for $1.50 or so.  Pretty good for the best snack a baby can have. 

Not to mention the Pampers Gifts to Grow and the Huggies Enjoy the Ride rewards.  There are codes in all the products you buy that you can enter online to "buy" toys, gift cards, magazine subscriptions and more.  I've earned enough Pampers GTG points to get a pretty awesome wagon for Zoe for Christmas. 

And if you don't have a kid, you still aren't missing out!  There are free codes on the internet all the time.  Just enter them as they come out and by the end of the year, buy a Better Homes and Gardens subscription or a Starbucks gift card for youself...for free!