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Archive for April, 2007

Challenge Addition

April 20th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

I earned $40 babysitting last night.

Old Total: $1153.69
+ $40.00 babysitting
New Total: $1193.69

I just checked back in the archives and saw that my goal for the Challenge is $1500 by June 30th. I knew my goal total for June was was $1500, but I couldn't remember if it was June 1 or June 30. I'm glad I made it June 30th- I think I can do it!

Challenge Addition:

April 18th, 2007 at 02:03 am

I decided to try again at "selling" coupons ons eBay. I had three coupons for free bags of pet food (13 lbs in total). The coupons sold at auction for $6.00 + $0.39 shippping, but after all was said and done, my profit was $5.18 which I will add to the Challenge.

Old Total: $1148.51
+ $5.18 coupons on eBay
New Total: $1153.69

Celery: Aldi Style

April 15th, 2007 at 11:14 pm

I bought this celery from Aldi exactly one week ago:

Note to self: Aldi's great produce prices probably mean a shorter life once purchased. We were able to eat about half of the $0.99 purchase before it headed south for retirement.

I diced the remaining limp celery to freeze. I can through it in a soup or something.

More for the Challenge

April 15th, 2007 at 02:48 pm

Old Total: $1084.51
+ $64.00 babysitting
New Total: $1148.51

Last night was a late night babysitting- the parents didn't get home until 1:30am so it was after 2am by the time I was home and in bed.

Luckily I was able to sleep in this morning. The good news is that the later they stay out, the more I earn!

Challenge Addition

April 14th, 2007 at 02:57 pm

Old Total: $1057.51
+ $27.00 babysitting
New Total: $1084.51

I made $27 babysitting Thursday night. I'm supposed to babysit again tonight, so (hopefully) I'll have more to add by the end of the weekend.

Results of the Aldi Trip

April 12th, 2007 at 01:47 am

A few weeks ago I posted my planned Aldi shopping list
along with the prices according to a price list compiled by Amy
price list compiled by Amy at MomAdvice. Amyís prices were based off the August 2006 prices at her Indiana Aldi.

Below is a list of what I actually bought (minus the chocolate bars!) and the price I paid. Youíll notice some prices are the same as Amyís, but many are higher:

Whipped Topping: $0.75 each
Ground Turkey (85% lean): $0.79 / lb
Frozen Broccoli Cuts: $0.89 / 16 oz
Frozen Peas / Frozen Corn: $0.79 / 16 oz
Hummus: $1.69 / 8 oz
Low Fat Cottage Cheese: $1.79 / 24 oz
Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt: $1.39 / 32 oz
Not from Concentrate Orange Juice: $2.49 / 64 oz
Sliced Turkey Breast Meat: $2.99 / lb
Bananas: $0.39 / lb
Plums: $0.39 / each (I thought it was 0.39 / lbóso either me or the cashier made a mistake!)
Fresh Flat Leaf Spinach: $1.39 / 9 oz
Celery: $0.99 / bunch
Onions: $1.49 / 3 lb
Baby Carrots: $0.99 / lb
Multi- Color Pepper: $2.99 / 3 pack
Canola Oil: $1.79 / 48 oz
Canola Cooking Spray: $1.29 / can
Diced Tomatoes: $0.45 / 14.5 oz
Tomato Paste: $0.33 / 6 oz
Hazelnut Spread: $1.69/ 14.1 oz
Golden Raisins:$1.99 / 15 oz
Coffee: $4.49 / 39 oz

Things I didnít buy that I had planned to:

Pure Maple Syrup: In addition to the flavored syrup, they did have 100% Pure Maple Syrup for $3.79 / 8.5 oz. I bought some at a better price earlier in the week at the grocery store.

Eggs: I donít remember the price, but I know they were over $0.99, which was the going price at my typical supermarket that week

100% Whole Wheat Bread: There was hardly any bread when I visited the store and ZERO whole grain bread!

All in all, Iím very happy with the quality of the Aldi products. Itís fun to check out the bargains at a new store, but given that my local supermarket chain doubles coupons up to $1, I donít feel that making a special trip to Aldi is worth it aside from when my travels tae me in that direction.

Challenge addition

April 8th, 2007 at 03:56 pm

Old Total: $1014.51
+ $43 babysitting
New Total: $1057.51

It's been a while since I've babysat or been able to add to the challenge.

I met a new family earlier this week who needs an occasional babysitter, so hopefully that will develop into a new job. Let's hope thing will start looking up again!

Happy Easter!

Coupon Deals- Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Walk Away

April 6th, 2007 at 02:46 am

If your grocery store doubles coupons up to a $1.00 (like mine), then using coupons saves moneyóhands down!. The trick is to hold your coupons and wait until the grocery store has the item on sale. Typically this is 2 -4 weeks after the coupon was issued in the Sunday paper. Yes, there are a lot of coupons for processed foods. I donít even bother clipping those. But, there are definitely healthy foods that can be purchased with coupons. Below is a list of what I purchased this week:

Natureís Valley Granola Cereal (14 oz): $0.50
Caprelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil (25.5 oz): $3.99
2 x Newmanís Own Spaghetti Sauce (28 oz): $1.00
4 x Kraft Cheddar Cheese ( 8 oz) $1.00
4 x Juicy Juice (64 oz): $1.00
2 x Bumble Bee Pouch Tuna (3 oz): free
Quaker Oatmeal Breakfast Bars: free
Fruity Cheerios: free
Dreamfieldís High Fiber Pasta: free
Fantastik Spray Cleaner: free
Scott Toilet Tissue 4-Pack: free
Kleenex Anti Viral Tissue: free

The Quaker Breakfast Bars are an item I wouldnít typically pay for, but for free Iím sure theyíll get happily consumed on some hike or as a snack during a car trip. The Fruity Cheerios also arenít something Iíd typically pay for, but also wonít pass up for free! The coupons for both of these items were $1 off / 1 item. Knowing that itís possible these items could go on sale for $2, I clipped the coupons understanding that I would only use it if the item was at this price ($2) since it would be free after doubling. I held on for them for about 1 month, and then, viola! They were offered at the right price!

One of my preferred brands of spaghetti sauce is Francesco Rinaldi. The store often runs 10/ $10 sales on Francesco Rinaldi, so the Newmanís Own at $1 / jar isnít a great find. Still, itís nice to mix up the brands, especially for other high quality brands like Newmanís Own. Newmanís Own also has a Vodka sauce which Francesco Rinaldi doesnít (at least in the 10 / $10 deals).

I had planned to buy the Aldi version of Juicy Juice and cheese since Iíll be near the Aldi again this week, but with a coupon, the grocery store is still cheaper (Aldi Juicy Juice is $1.89 and 8 oz of cheddar is $1.39).

Nothing Says Springtime like... Borscht?

April 5th, 2007 at 12:54 am

Mr. Bean is out of town again. While he's away, I try to cook foods that I enjoy but he doesn't (or as I like to think-- foods for which he lacks the culinary sophistication to enjoy ;-)

Tonight I made Vegetarian Borscht.

I decided to make borscht when I spotted fresh beets at the grocery store earlier today (something the store doesn't always carry). There was also a huge display of canned beets. Does anyone know if beets part of the Passover tradition- or was the onslaught of beets just a coincidence? I am from a Ukrainian heritage, so I grew up eating a lot of beets, but as far as I know beets aren't part of a traditional American Easter.

Despite the tower of canned beets, I went with the fresh. I've never tried canned beets, but I was tempted this afternoon since peeling and cutting fresh beets is such a messy task. I'll use the beet greens for another recipe (maybe a lasagna?) I also found a use for those pesky pink skins:

While my soup was cooking, I boiled the skins a mixture of water and vinegar and then tossed in a few eggs. Viola! Natural pink dye for Easter eggs!

March Spending Analysis

April 1st, 2007 at 11:11 pm

One of my goals for 2007 is to live off my monthly graduate student stipend while paying $150 / month into an IRA. All other money I receive (odds jobs and gifts) is funneled into my high yield savings account.

My March expenses looked like this:

Clothing $36.69
Dining $46.62
Entertainment $84.85
Gifts Given $42.97
Groceries $6.89
Household $3.50
Joint Expenses $1000.00 (includes rent, utilities, food, gas, etc)
Medical $6.00
Parking $4.00
Personal Care $66.00
IRA Contribution $150

Total March Stipend $1377.50

Uh oh! I overspent my stipend by $70.02.

Luckily, Iím not worried. I underspent the stipend by $90.14 in January and $139.31 in February to leave myself a $229.45 surplus. In addition, I made $290 this month in odd jobs.

So, while Iím not worried, Iím not ecstatic, either.

There are a few reasons why this month was unusual. First, Mr. Bean and I took a weekend trip and incurred extra expenses in gas and hotel. For this reason, we each contributed $1000 to our joint account rather than the typical $800. I also got my haircut this month and bought a new jar of my preferred (but pricey) moisturizer. Both of these expenses are what drove my ďPersonal CareĒ category up to $66.

I also spent ~$70 on a new paid of running shoes (I place this in entertainment category). I am an avid runner, but can typically get my shoes to last ~4 months since I have custom made orthodics which help preserve the life of the shoe. However, when my knees start to ache, I know itís time for new shoes. My knees started hurting around March 28. The thought crossed my mind to wait a few days so I could stay place the expense in April, but then I realized how silly that was. My Challenge to live off my stipend while contributing $150 / month to an IRA is just that Ė a Challenge- and the months that I stay under my limit provides a cushion for monthís like the previous.

Regardless, this month proves the point of why itís important for those of us on a relatively lower end of the income spectrum to watch how we spend our money. A few extra indulgences and youíll find yourself in the red!

Gearing up for Aldi

April 1st, 2007 at 01:23 pm

Iím taking Mr. Bean to the train station tomorrow and will be passing Aldi on the way back (both are ~ 30 miles from our house).

Iíve used Amyís wonderful Aldi price list
to construct a list of items that we need /(or can store for use in the near future) and are cheaper than what I can purchase locally with a coupon.

I recently started keeping an Excel price book- so although itís still in infancy, it helped me pinpoint which items are significantly less at Aldi.

I should note that Amyís list was compiled in August 2006. I donít know if Aldiís prices vary regional, but these prices may not reflect what Iíll actually find at the store. For example, I already know the last time I bought cottage cheese there it was $2.28 for 24 oz, but Amy has it listed for $1.69 / 24 oz.

Hereís my list:

Pure Maple Syrup (this isnít on Amyís list, but I saw it there during my last trip. I donít remember the exact price, but I remember it was cheaper than the grocery store).

Eggs ($0.69 / dozen)

OJ ($1.69 / 64 oz., Iíll only buy this if itís not from concentrate)

Shredded Cheese (($1.69 / 12 oz)

Fresh Spinach ([if available] $1.29 / 9 oz)

Onions ($0.69 / 3#)

Multicolor Bell Peppers ($2.29 / 20 oz)

Canola Oil ($1.79 / 48 oz)

Dry Milk ($6.99 / 64 oz)

Hazel Nut Spread (1.69 / for a little piece of heaven)

Frozen Veggies ($0.69 / 16 oz)

Whipped Topping ($0.69 / 8 oz)

Ground Turkey ($0.79 / 16 ozóIíll only buy this if itís at least 85% lean)

Coffee *$3.29 / 39 oz)

100% Whole Wheat Bread ($1.29 / 1 loaf)

Lots and lots of tasty German Chocolate! (~ $0.99 / pound)

There are certainly other items that are a great deal at Aldi (ie. the flour is 40.89 / 5#! But I don't need any right now!)

Anything else you love to buy at Aldi? I enjoy poking around a new store and comparing prices. That will be half the fun for me!