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Swiftly Declining

June 6th, 2010 at 04:36 pm

My mom is having difficulty with her breathing. Back in October of 2009 she was diagnosed with bilateral multiple blood clots. In other words, lots of clots in both lungs. Her latest cat scan shows there are no clots now. Thank goodness! She has lots of other health issues. She jokes that the only diagnosis she doesn't have is diabetes, knock on wood.

We go to a pulmonary specialist tomorrow. It is our last hope, I believe. Her breathing is scary. Not a technical term but accurate. Yesterday, as I listened to her sleeping and later awake, it reminded me of patients I had as an RN that lived only days, weeks or even months longer if they were lucky. My heart is so heavy, it feels ragged and torn. I love my mom so much. I just keep hoping and praying.

Yesterday was my nephew's college graduation party. I am so proud of his hard work and accomplishment. I did not go to the party, I stayed with mom. She has always been so independent and a go-getter. She is terrified she will die alone and doesn't want to be left alone.

I lied and told everyone my allergies were acting up and I couldn't make it. That way she wouldn't be alone and no one would feel guilty. My sister and I hatched this up together, unfortunately, she ended up with a terrible case of guilt. Everyone in my family loves mom.

My nephew is the kind who loves to stretch celebration events over days, so I am taking him to lunch or dinner next weekend, hopefully with mom. I'll give him his graduation gift then. He loves cash as a gift, so he'll be pleased.

Planned vs Unplanned Purchases

May 23rd, 2010 at 01:46 am

Most of my purchases are planned. I work out the deal ahead of time using sales, coupons (store & manufacturer), rebates (store & manufacturer) and discounts offered. Ex. of discount vs sale is Riteaid's Wellness Card gives a 10% discount on nonsale items purchased.

I even purchases items I hope I will not use. Why? Because, if I get the flu/food poisoning and need Immodium (generic) I will probably have to ask someone to get it for me and they will not get generic and I will pay full price on a name brand. Ouch! So I now try to weave items like this into my deals to get them for free or pennies. This week it is Visine and generic Claritin for the fall allergy season. In September, the sales for cold and flu season will start and it will be stock up time. I noticed I'm getting low on tylenol so I will be keeping my eye out for deals. There are some sales but the cost is not low enough yet.

I'm careful to look at expiration dates. Its easier to do this when you feel well and are not rushed. Some expirations can extend out for 2 years or more. Those dates will be my first pick. I look to the back of the shelf for the longer expiration dates since stores put closer exp. dates to the front (unless the stocker is lazy or rushed or customers pawing thru the stock, lol Wink. I always fix any mess I cause looking thru stock.

If I constantly pay full price for things it is hard for me to save money and do the things I want to do without going into debt. Living on debt, to me, is like living on the edge, if I want to live on the edge it will not be because of debt. I would choose traveling, a great book or movie, etc. not debt.

Although this is serious, I took learning about the sale/couponing/rebate process like a game. Learning the rules like you do to Bridge, Monopoly or Texas Hold'em. There are rules and strategies. It can be fun. It can be serious. For some it is intense. But in the end it is up to you what level you take it to, and how successfully it works for you. Will you win and to what degree?

Lunch with Mom & Sis

May 15th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I had lunch with my mom and sister today. I had a Chilis $25 gc I got from points earned on my credit card. Normally I would not get a Chilis gc. I like Chilis, but they are 40 mins drive away. However, marketing got me. The hunger for a better deal. LOL. I spent the same points I would for a gc but if I got a Chilis they would throw in an extra $5 gc for movie tickets, a dinner and movies promo. I've had the gc for months, gave my niece the movie gc.

Finally mom was well enough to travel to Annapolis to go to Chilis. Yea! At the last minute my sis said she could go also. Another Yea! We had alot of fun. A girls day out. We had hoped they would have a promo running but it ended last week, boo. The service was incredibly good and the food very good.

When we got back my son was there waiting for us. I'm not sure how my day could get better.

After dropping mom off and visiting with DS, my sis and I headed to Safeway and Giantfood for mom. I have been giving away $10 off $50 purchase coupons to Safeway because I never spend $50 after all coupons and deductions. Today, shopping for mom I could finally use it. She can't shop for herself anymore. Dad doesn't like the grocery store and procrastinates something fierce when asked to go. However, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's don't seem to be a problem, lol.

Perhaps the best way to save is to take pleasure in the company of others, its free.

I didn't do any shopping for myself. Guess I'll do it tomorrow.

1 Year Supply of Food

May 15th, 2010 at 12:51 am

I have a 6mo-1yr(ok multiyear) supply of household and personal care goods. My next project is going to be acquiring a 1 year supply of food.

Most grocery stores keep a 3 day supply of food on their shelves.

Although not a Mormon, I've read that they are encouraged by their church to keep a one year supply of food. I forget the water amount but I think that is a year also. This food is for emergencies. That would include: weather, terror issues, layoffs, illness, disruption in services and any number of other personal and not personal emergencies. Seems smart to me.

To be honest, this recovery isn't much of a recovery and the chances of a double dip far out weigh the chances of a continued recovery in my opinion. Am I sounding paranoid, maybe, but my job depends on people on the Hill giving my State money to keep teacher jobs. So, better safe than sorry.

The food pantry will continue to receive donations and the troops will be an ongoing project. This is an add-on project. My goal is to acquire as much as I can for free using overage from coupons, sales and rebates.

I have 74 boxes of cereal. Overkill, I know. I got 70 this week for free using the Safeway sale, coupons and oyno coupons. At least 22 will go to the food pantry. As I get other boxes for free I will donate to increase my variety.

I got 7 cans(5oz) of tuna and 1 can(12.5oz) of chicken breast. I did pay .40 for the $2.12 can because cashiers at Walmart get antsy if you don't pay anything on a $20 order(I suppose you could divide the .40 by the 8 items I got). Safeway clerks seem immune.

Tomorrow I plan to get 2 scrubbing bubbles to spend the overage. For me, after tax that will be $1.12. I might do 2 orders. Yes, for a grand total of $2.24. There are 11 $5 off coupons left.

Looking at my Riteaid Allergy Gift Certificate, there is only 2 weeks left to use it. Grrr. Sunmaid raisins are on sale next week plus some other food items so maybe I'll work on the dried fruit end of my one year supply. This will take 3-6 mos as soups and oatmeal will not be on sale until fall. Just another project to teach me patience.

Deals and Rebates...

April 26th, 2010 at 09:33 pm

Other people knit, show dogs, garden, watch tv/movies, gossip, and the list goes on for a hobby. Me, I love to find sales, coupons, rebates that allow me to walk out making money or paying pennies to the dollar.

I love to read, spend time with family, go walking, but I admit to being addicted to free/almost free shopping. If I go to long without, I get irritable and shaky (LOL).

There was a time I was restricted in what I could buy. No dog, why get free dog food. No cat, why get free cat food. No baby, why get diapers. Don't eat Coco Puff, why get it even for free. This is no longer an issue. Well I still refuse Coco Puffs due to it being a dessert not a meal, while people treat it as breakfast.

I now have a list of groups who want my free items. Thank you all for allowing me to feed my habit/ addiction. Local middle school, food pantry, homeless shelter, animal rescue, coo-workers, family and friends. Even my expired excess coupons now have a home overseas in Japan on a Marine Corps Base (Yea!).

Riteaid will pay me $4.71 to take ownership of (3) 2.5 oz aveeno lotions, milky way miniatures, (2) dove haircare, (2) stayfree pads. (Riteaid rebate checks)

CVS will pay me up to a $1 to recieve (2) 2oz of Suncare.

Safeway paid me $6.46 to purchase (4) bottles of Extend a Clean Scrubbing Bubbles. I had to do that deal 4 times for $25.84 in catalinas plus more cleaning products than I can use(on your next order).
I had coupons for 2 more deals ($13 more for me)but I don't take the last of a product off the shelves (unless I am buying 1 or 2 only), so I gave the coupons to an interested cashier.

There were other deals this last week at Foodlion, Safeway, and Target.

I got a $15 (3x$5) from SC Johnson today. Yeah. I paid $2 to get $5 (x3), so a profit of $9 plus lots of ziploc containers. P.S. Quick turn around on the rebates.

Too much fun.

Carefirst Insurance Woes...

April 22nd, 2010 at 02:21 am

Carefirst paid the consult fee for the dentist who pulled my tooth. Now they are refusing to pay the same dentist that pulled my tooth (not the practice) saying she is not a participator in Carefirst. They confirmed she was 24hrs earlier. According to the practice they have written confirmation that she has been during the whole time period (24hrs).

I've heard of the racket of insurance companies saying stuff like that to hold onto the money longer and make the dr. wait and wait and wait, just so they can collect interest on the money a few months longer. This is my first experience with Carefirst doing this. Perhaps it is just a clerical error. Seems a little fishy when one day they are okay and the next (literally) all of the sudden they aren't. Luckily the dr office has said their insurance specialist will contact the insurance co and straighten it out.

Who needs this stress? It just confirms what I was saying about insurance customers costing the dr. more money than cash paying customers.



Thinking Outside the Box

April 18th, 2010 at 08:09 pm

I was in CVS and they had run out of skin wipes. I had been using the kids section to pick up travel size wipes a few at a time. I refuse to clear out a shelf (especially when using coupons)as I think it is rude. A few at a time gives the store time to restock if they want.

So, I was wandering around the store waiting for a prescription to be filled. What did I see in the adult section? Next to the Poise and Depends were adult wipes. Not only that, but they were 75% off making them $.49 each. After reading the package I decided they are the same as childrens in adult packaging. Plus, they are half the price.

Slowly over the past 3/4 days I have been buying 4 at a time. They are perfect for the Soldier Project and because I use a CVS coupon, I don't even pay tax.

Getting excited about not having to pay sales tax probably sounds really cheap. Hey, its just .06 per dollar spent. But look at the numbers.

38 soldiers X 10 products each X $3 avg price X 6% sales tax = $68.40

That's right I can save $68.40 by not being required to pay tax or getting a rebate to cover the tax. A rebate covers tax if I pay the tax but get back more than I paid for the product plus tax. Ex. store A sell product b for $5+tax= $5.30 - $1MQ = $4.30 and the store is giving a rebate of $5. Not only a MM but the sales tax is paid by the store. Anyway, I suppose not technically but thats how I look at it.

I tend to get more for the dollar in value than any government I've seen. But then I get line item veto in my budget and the President doesn't.

Insured/Uninsured Dental Care Costs

April 15th, 2010 at 12:37 am

To take care of my tooth/nerve infection, I saw 3 Dentists. First was my general practitioner who referred me to an endodontist. The endodontist ended as a consult referring me back to my general Dr for referral to an oral surgeon. Twenty years ago your general was general and did it all. Not so now. Now I run all over to see Specialists racking up fee after fee and putting mileage on my car and losing time from work.

Everyone gets a consult fee. The part that is grossly unfair is how it increases the costs for people without insurance. If my insurance pays for the consult the Dr get $35 and if insurance says they won't pay then I pay $75. I had to pay the $75 up front so it will be returned to me. But, I think of the uninsured. They should pay $35 up front. They actually cost the Dr less because there are no forms to fill out, no waiting even a day for the money, no extra storage for the forms in paper or computer space, no extra employee to deal with insurance companies. If anyone should pay more it is the insured. We are the expensive ones. This is just common sense.

I really like my Dr. I've been with him for almost 20yrs. However, I may consider looking for a dentist or group of dentists where I won't have to travel so much and take off work. Consult fees of $225 when one dentist should be able to numb the area and pull it out in one visit is too much for my frugal soul. Oh, and that $225 doesn't touch the actual tooth being pulled. That is an additional cost.

Such a Good Day!

April 2nd, 2010 at 12:11 am

I not only don't owe taxes, I'm getting $2,283 back Federal and State. In years past, I would get so close that I would owe or get back $50. Since my separation/divorce and this is my first year without DS I had no idea how it would work out. I will definitely have to change my tax forms at work. Alot of states are not sending owed money on returns. Maryland is okay this year but who knows with next years returns.

I found out that I have a cousin I didn't know about. Seems my aunt and uncle decided to give her up for adoption. I am so excited for my cousin who is an only child and unmarried (no children, either). She seems to be a lovely person. She has 5 children (1 adopted). When she adopted her child she did not know she herself was adopted. Now my cousin will have a sister, a BIL, and 5 nieces and nephews. Wow! I love family. Although, I must say we certainly have our share of eccentrics!

And, my brother walked in and said "here I brought you a bunch of Sunday inserts." Yahoo! There must be 15. Lots more free dog food and Snuggle!

Toothbrush Shopping and Jewelry Parties

March 28th, 2010 at 01:05 am

Giant Food has Reach toothbrushes on sale for .99 A good toothbrush for a great price. I took my B1G1 and $1 MQ with me. They had 2 toothbrushes. I put them in my cart and started looking around for more on a display or endcap. No luck, but I found the same brand and type in a 2 pack. Hmmm. I took one to a price check machine and the 2 pack was .49

Let me think about this: 1 for .99 or 2 for .49. What should I do? I rushed back and filled my cart with the rest of the 2 packs, all 8 of them. Then it was off to the checkout. I gave the cashier my b1g1 and $1 off MQ and ended up paying .27, the tax. Yeah!

I got a raincheck for 6 more singles at another Giant after the jewelry party.

Okay, I am about to admit to spending a crazy amount of money for a piece of costume jewelry. I love the piece. It is a bracelet. Its sterling silver with pearls and silver leaves. To be honest, I bought it for my niece. I told her that she has custody of it and I get occasional visitation upon request. It will look beautiful on her. Cost: $174 plus tax. I know, "crazy" but I can't bring myself to regret it.

Small Pox and other things

March 27th, 2010 at 03:55 am

Grrr! I hate taking days off. I would have seen if the endodontist would see me later in the day if I'd known that the tooth can't be pulled out with that much infection in my tooth and surrounding area until I've been on the antibiotic for several days. In fact, the Dr. said here is my number, if the infection gets worse over the weekend I'll prescribe another antibiotic to go with what you are already taking. Gee thanks! He was very nice and I was nice to him, I just want it done and over with. Frustration.

So, I called my son to tell him about my tooth/infection and he said "Guess what? I have SMALL POX." He didn't yell the "small pox" but it reverberated in my head that way. I asked how and he said the Marine Corp gave it to him. WHAT? To be honest I still don't quite understand how this happened based on what he said but I will question him more tomorrow. I think (based on what he said) that he got it from the vaccine. They gave it to him 14 times. Huh? He seems to be unlucky enough to have developed a mild case of it(fever, tired, headache). Small pox can kill and it disfigures. He seems to be taking it seriously thank goodness. He promised not to pop the vesicle. They warned him it could spread if he pops it. I hope he doesn't scratch it in his sleep. Sound like a mom don't I? I will be saying alot of prayers.

Time to distract myself (or I will drive myself crazy with worry). Giant Food's sale this week includes Reach toothbrushes for .99 I have coupons for $1 off so I can complete the soldier project toothbrush collection this week for the price of tax. Hoorah!

I am officially done with body wash, toothbrushes and dental floss. I'm half-way done or better with deodorant and q-tips. I'm a third or better with toothpaste, wipes and razors. I'm still holding out hope that I will be able to give each soldier their own package of razors and not break the packages up.

So it was a great day at Target and Walgreens. No so great of a day at the dentist and speaking to my son.


The Good With the Bad

March 26th, 2010 at 12:47 am

I have an infection the size of a marshmallow one the left side of my face at the jawline. Lovely! Thats the bad. The good is several things. One I got in to see my dentist who immediately prescribed antibiotics and forwarded me to the endodontist. Lucky me, the endodontist is one of the best looking guys I've ever seen! Married and to young but a pleasure to watch working. Sigh! I get to see him tomorrow at 11am so no work. Hmm. But a must see because that particular tooth can lead to nasty consequences if not treated asap. The dentist also gave me pain meds. The powerful kind. Lucky me I don't need them yet because the infection is also in the mandibular nerve causing numbness, tingling and a cold burning sensation at times. Tylenol is working for now. I hate how I feel on stronger pain meds.

While I was waiting for my prescriptions to be filled I looked around Riteaid. In the mark down area I found 4 gillette deodorants. All were at least a year out in expiration. I had $4/2 MQ so I paid less than $1.50 with tax for all of them.

Another good was that my prescriptions were a total of $8.20. I put it on my pretax credit card. So no cash out of pocket.

I also dropped off a few prescriptions for my parents so I will get a $25 gift card. My DM said I could use it for the soldier project.

Now the bad. I will probably have to have that tooth pulled out. Looks like the root canal cracked. I wonder what that will cost. Insurance should cover it. The good is it is the back molar and usually people don't bother with an implant. The BAD is it will be PULLED OUT! Scream! I hate having teeth pulled.

Life without TV

March 22nd, 2010 at 02:16 am

Now that I have high speed internet again I wonder if I will watch tv much. Its been off 12 of the last 14 days. And the two days it was on was for 2 half hour shows. I finally just unplugged it to save on the electricity (tv, vcr, dtv, dvd). Hey, phantom electricity is expensive over time.

I can watch HULU, youtube for music and old movies (old movies can be 1-2yrs old). I read, visit family/friends, work, and work on my projects (soldier/food pantry) and I am thinking of adding the local dog/cat rescue to my projects. I am more productive and feel better about myself and my accomplishments when the tv is off. I admit that at times I watched for hours with little to nothing to show for it. Not a good feeling.

$219 for 2 New Tires

March 18th, 2010 at 12:28 am

As I was about to get into my car to go to work I noticed my front right tire was flat, flat, flat. Ugh! Once more, FLAT! On my way to work. Darn. Lucky for me, I leave early for work and my brother loaned me his truck and even took my car to the shop to get the tire fixed. A blessing on him! Thank you DB. His truck is a monster double cab double bed, double long, whatever you call it. Whoa! I drive a Ford Focus. Big change. The truck is such a smooth ride. Going 60 felt like 30. Not a good thing for me. I hate tickets. I had a Camry before the Focus and the smooth ride cost me a few tickets over the 14yrs (320,000 miles)she lasted. I loved that car. She was one of the last off the boat from Japan.

The shop said I needed 4 new tires to replace the unrepairable flat. He recommended a mid-grade tire to replace my "cheap" tires. Unfortunately for him, he said it with an air of superiority and I was unable to resist saying I had purchased them at this shop. LOL! The flat was due to a nail, not cheap tires. I chose the tires because my car was almost is 7yrs old at the time not 3yrs old. I replaced the transmission recently but I'm not replacing an engine. That will mean a new to me car. If I get 5 more years out of my car I will be ecstatic. But, realistically, probably not. So, only 2 tires.

This to shall pass...

March 14th, 2010 at 01:36 pm

As my beloved grandmother used to say "This to shall pass..." even when it feels like it won't. My flu is gone, mom is home, and my niece chose to come home instead of checking into a hospital. So we go on from here... Thanks for the words of support!

My son informed me that the Soldier Package Project is not 28 but 38. "Hey, mom I talked to my Corporal and he said there are 38 in my platoon." So, after a moment of panic and did he really say 38? I picked myself up off the ground and have gotten back to work.

Yesterday, I went to Target and bought 20 bottles of Gillette Body Wash 8oz. The price is 1.79 and I had a coupon, $4 off 2 bottles, making it free. I now have the body wash up to 37. Two soldiers in the platoon are women so I have Olay Body Ribbons for them. Meaning I have one extra Gillette which my nephew in college will snatch up quickly.

Something startling happened through all this. Well to me it was startling. This started out as my project (a way to deal with him deploying for the 1st time and to help at the same time) and as my project I get to plan it and control it. I am also paying for it, so I say where things are bought and when and for how much. As I was speaking to my Aunt about my mom, her sister, she asked about DS and I caught her up and mentioned the project. She immediately offered to send me a check for $25 and said she was sure others would contribute. I quickly said No, Thanks I've got it covered. She left the offer open ended and I thanked her. Now I am wondering/considering my answer. Is it right to deny the soldiers more needed items because, of what? My need for control, is it getting the credit for being wonderful, something else, why? I am going to think hard on this. How I spend money is tied to beliefs, emotions, values. What does this say about me and am I going to change? Probably... It definitely shows a lack of flexibility.