Chuck E Cheese and Entertainment Book Savings

Today I really wanted to have as fun a day as possible, it being the last day of summer break.

First stop, Chuck E Cheese. We had a coupon for BOGO $20 play pass which ended up being enough for an hour for three kiddos.  Some locations offer a deal where you pay $15.99 for a play pass for  an hour.  That actually would have been a better deal, but I didn’t remember it until I got there…

Second stop, Sweet Frog. BOGO 5 oz cup from the Entertainment Book.  If you don’t have one, I totally recommend getting an “Entertainment Book”.  It’s 99.5% digital these days.  If you have an Ebates account, you can get 17.5% back!  If not, here’s my referral link!

I swear, my other two girls were there!  I just realized that V is the only one in any of my good photos! haha.

Anyway, any good deals for you lately? Please share!!


Energy Tip: Cost of Running Appliances

Sometimes when you look at your budget, it seems like there aren’t any places to make cuts. Our energy bill has been high in the past and it just seemed like we couldn’t do much to change it. We kept our heat at 68 and our a/c at 76, so what more was there to do? A lot.

  • I scheduled a representative from teacher energy company to come out and see where we could improve.
  • On cooler days (80 degrees and lower) we have been turning off the a/c entirely.
  • Lights off when it makes sense.
  • Figure out how much it costs to run your appliances. Our dryer is about 20 years old and costs $1 each time it runs. To figure this out, look on your machine and multiply amps by volts and multiply that by how much your energy company charges for kilowatt hour. Then figure out how much it costs per hour. Our dryer runs for about 70 minutes, so I multiplied the kWh by 1.083 (if yours runs for a half hour, multiply by .5). Each time I don’t use the dryer, I save us $1.
  • Newer appliances have the cost to run per use on the tag or in the manual.
  • Obviously it would make sense to invest in an Energy Efficient appliance. Our dishwasher only costs .12 to run a cycle!

Old Betsy

What are your energy saving tips?

Somewhat Free Sunday

Today was a relatively no-cost day. My oldest daughter, V, is starting second grade on Thursday and one of the moms in our group put together a Back to School Party today. It was a nice brunch in a gorgeous house. 

We drove into the neighborhood and passed all of these honest-to-goodness mansions and she said “I am going to be so jealous.” She talks about how much she wants a big house a lot. I tell her that we could totally have a bigger house in a different neighborhood, but the school wouldn’t be as good. When we moved into the district four years ago it was just because of the school. We moved into a smaller, older house and two weeks later I found out I was pregnant.  Needless to say, the “Boy, this house is going to be small with two kids,” turned into “Oh my goodness this house is absolutely too small for three kids!” pretty quickly.
To combat the tiny nature of our house, we have gotten rid of so much stuff. I have a donation van come out and pick up items monthly. We have changed our shopping habits, we have (mostly) quit our packrat ways.  

Sorry for the tangent, but it was pertinent!

So after a morning of socializing with about 30 kiddos and their awesome moms, V and I went home. With everyone else, we cleaned, we made lunch, we picked tomatoes and played outside.  We played CrossyRoad (I love it).

Handmade cookies at the brunch! Literally too beautiful to eat!

V learned how to ride sans training wheels in May. She’s still not tired of it!

Cherry tomatoes from the best tomato plant that I have ever had!

The day wasn’t totally cost-free. V’s bday is in Nov and DH wanted to get her Mario Kart for the Wii. I got it used off of eBay for $30 and bought an extra wheel for the controller for $5.88. I shopped through Ibotta and there is a bonus until 8/17 where any eBay purchase gets you $5 back. You get 1% back through Ibotta on eBay purchases, so free wheel will cost 83 cents!  If you want to join Ibotta, you get $10 Welcome Bonus for redeeming your first offer within 7 days of joining. If you have a recent grocery receipt on hand, you probably have something on it that will get you cash back. 

Anyway. We are still on track to be under budget this week. I count my “weeks” Saturday through Friday, with my grocery shopping/errand day on Saturday. It sets the tone for the rest of the week.

How was your weekend?

An Amazing Petco Shopping Experience with help from Ebates.

I have four hamsters and a sick little old Chihuahua and it costs a lot to take care of them each month between the hamster food, bedding, and dog food.  More so now that Wexley (Chihuahua) is on prescription medications.  Tonight, I noticed that Gumball, our little long-haired hamster had a big scratch on her back.  Then, I saw that she had chewed through one of her platforms on her cage and that rough area had a few hamster hairs on it.  She must have scratched her back while climbing up through that little hole that she had made.  Regardless, she needs a new cage.

Her current cage–and the cage that I have four of–runs around $30 at PetSmart.  Seeing how I need a cage and bedding and food all at the same time, I didn’t want to drop a ton of money at once.  So, I shopped through Ebates.  I found PetSmart on the list and started shopping, and the total was going to be ridiculous.  $49!  That’s not in my budget at the moment.  So, then I went back to Ebates and looked at other pet supply companies.  That’s how I saw Petco.

Petco is offering 4% cash back through Ebates AND and additional 20% off of items that you sign up for automatic delivery with a promo code on their site.  The new cage, the bedding, and the food all had free shipping and cost me $32.04!  That’s a $17 difference!  Plus, I’ll get the 4% cash back onto my Ebates account.  It all adds up.

Tell me about your last surprisingly successful shopping trip!

(if you register for Ebates using my referral code by clicking on “Ebates” in this post, I get a little bonus, but this was an amazing shopping trip and I am totally expressing my own opinions.  I’m not an Ebates influencer, I swear!)

How I Grocery’d Today: 8/12/17. Apps that give you money and comparison shopping.

This was a weird day for me.  I am starting to have a lot of trouble sleeping and someone sent me  a message in the middle of the night–which was super nice.  However, once I was awake, I was awake.  I got up at 4 am after going to sleep at midnight and got busy cleaning the girls’ rooms, as they were sleeping over at my parents’ house.

I had my grocery list assembled and as I typically go to two to three places for groceries on Saturdays, I took advantage of my early morning and got started at 6 am.  First stop:  Walmart.  I used my Shopkick app and got 25 kicks (points) for walking in and 25 points for scanning ANYTHING, and scanned a few items on the app to rack up kicks (kind of like an easy scavenger hunt!).  I bought a few items that were featured on the Checkout51 app, that actually had a bonus for buying the items at Walmart (Lance Peanut Butter Cheese Sandwich crackers and Quaker Flats).  I earned $2.50 towards my account with Checkout51.  Total: $32.37.  $17 of that (so more than half) was for underwear for the girls.

Next stop:  Kroger.  I got another 25 points for just walking in. I had a few coupons: $3 off in the meat department, one free cream cheese, and $1 off two boxes of Cascadian Farms granola bars and $1 off deli meats.  Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt with Zero Artificial Sugars were listed on Checkout51 as having $1.25 cash back if you buy three, Kroger was having a sale of 4 for $5.  With the combo of the two deals, technically one of those was free.  Total: 47.04.  Saved: 16% (gotta love Kroger receipts for telling you how much you save).

Finally:  Aldi.  They typically don’t have coupons, and I didn’t get any points for walking in (it just wasn’t set up at that location).  I got .25 on Checkout51 for buying any bagged salad.  Total: $60.86, including extras like two plants ($1.99 each), a peace sign for the girls room ($8), and socks ($4).

Not “frugal” in the sense of buying only what is necessary, but their little room needed a little pizazz and school starts on Thursday and so of course they need new socks and underwear!

Now, as I had the opportunity to go to three places today, I was able to compare prices for future shopping trips.  Here is the beginnings of a spreadsheet based off of what I saw today.  Hopefully, I will be able to fill in more next week.

Screenshot 2017-08-12 19.56.19

If you have any more to add to this comparison, let me know!

I now have enough Shopkick points to get a small Walmart gift card just from shopping today!  If I save them, I can get a bigger gift card–I have my sights set on a $50.

I also have $5.50 in my Checkout51 from this week!  Once I hit $20, they send a check!!

Do you have any shopping apps that you love?

Frugal Friday Five.

Hello and happy Friday!!  Hope you all had a wonderful week and that your weekend is amazing!  Here are five frugal things about this week:

  1.  I signed up for dental insurance.  How is this a “frugal” thing?  I am adding this to my list because without reworking my budget and finding ways to save, we would not have been able to afford dental insurance.  Some of you may have dental through your work, but my husband is a freelance illustrator and does not receive any benefits, so everything is out of pocket for us.  We have three kiddos, and one of them has gotten the short end of the dental stick.  If it weren’t for my other two and their basically perfect teeth, I would have felt like it was something that I was doing wrong.

Dental insurance is a big expense.  It will cost us about $1100 a year. Yikes!  But then, when you factor in that each cleaning costs $200 x 5 people in the family x twice a year= $2000 in cleanings alone!  Not to mention the inevitable cavity.  Anyway, I’m excited about saving that money in a healthier way than just skipping the dentist. #adulting

2.  We had one NO SPEND DAY.  That’s not really that remarkable, but to me, it’s awesome.

3.  EBates!  I don’t know how I missed this, but I am so excited about EBates!!  I just wrote about how your can make your credit card work for you by shopping through your credit card’s website, but I feel like Ebates has even more stores available.  If you want to join, and you use my referral link, I get a $5!  Click HERE to join!  If you are already a member, do you have any tips to share?

4.  Meal planning!  With school coming, I had an epiphany about meal planning.  I picked out about 12 meals and I added them onto my Google calendar every 12 weeks, and I added a “leftovers!” meal each week.  I picked really easy meals that my kiddos like and are low-cost, so now instead of pouring over Pinterest or eMeals (it’s an app I use that sends me recipes every week for the next week–not free), I just have to open my phone.  So, that should help a lot.

5.  UNDER BUDGET!  We came in under budget this week by about $30.  Cue the happy dance.

Frugal Fails:  Because let’s be real:  no-one is perfect!  DH accidentally scanned the credit card twice at a parking meter so we were charged $5 instead of $2.50.  Womp-womp.

When I signed up for dental, I checked and made sure the adult dentist and pediatric dentist accepted it, and they did.  However, after I signed up, I found out that the pediatric dentist only accepts that certain insurance at an office 2 hours away.  So, I had to go through all these hoops talking to different insurance people at the company before I could finally cancel my policy.  However, I was already charged.  They will refund me, but now have I have to watch my credit card and make sure that actually happens.  Thank goodness I have a confirmation number. I actually ended up going with Delta Dental which is the one that our dentists accept–in case you are in the dental insurance market.

Tell me about your week!  Did you have any frugal wins?  Frugal fails?

Frugal Pet Meds.

Before you say, “Oh, I don’t have a pet, so this doesn’t apply to me,” and scroll on, this could be helpful to a friend or family member, or even a Pet-Owning You of the Future!

I was one of those people who would see the adds for these online pet pharmacies and just glaze over.  We have had our Chihuahua for 11 years and due to his size, we didn’t give him any flea and tick meds, and knock on wood, he was pretty healthy.  They also have a life expectancy of about a hundred years (more like late-teens), so we thought that we had a long time before we had to consider this.

Fast forward to April of this year.  Wexley, our Chihuahua, started acting strange.  He was suddenly sluggish and moving in an unusual way.  On top of that, he was losing a lot of hair.  We took him to a vet who was so focused on his hair loss, that after many hundreds of dollars suggested we take him to a dog dermatologist. We ended up going to another more expensive veterinarian where it is suspected that he has a spinal tumor that is causing his back legs to atrophy.  They are expecting it to get worse and possibly spread to his front legs.  To combat the pain, he was prescribed Gabapentin and prednisone.  The Gabapentin costs us $60 (including a compounding fee) a month and the prednison costs about $25.  That’s $85 on a very tight budget for us.

I looked into and was shocked to see that I could get the prednisone for $7.50 and the gabapentin for $1.50.  With the gabapentin, I would need to have them compound it for us, which is $25, but still.  $26.50 compared to $60 a month–worth it.  I submitted my order online and waited for the vet to approve it.


Wait, what?

I called the vet, and I am a very mild-mannered person and very non-confrontational.  When I told her that it got denied, she cut me off in a way that made me feel like this is a common complaint and that things escalate quickly for her.  She explained that they don’t approve of medicines that they carry in office.  However, since they do carry it in office, they would match the price!  That’s even better.

Moral of the story:  you should look into ordering medication online for your pet because it is remarkably cheaper and your veterinarian may match prices.

Also, it’s a good idea to look into pet insurance before your pet reaches the point that Wexley has.  He has a “pre-existing condition” now, and would not be covered by anyone.

Have you used any online pet pharmacies?  Tell me about your experience!