Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Documented Savings: Over $4,500!

2010 was another banner year of documented savings of $$4,533.54 ranging from aggregate cents on the dollar at the supermarket and using my frequency rewards cards, to a savings of $450 to attend Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, to applying for our reimbursements. Other whopping savings this year includes catching a 50% off sale at Pearle Vision for James' much-needed eye glasses. Some money was saved as a result of pre-planning (plane tickets) or pre-purchasing (Phone-Internet-Cable bundled package). Why pay full price if I (and you) don't have to? They're the same goods and services, and the value does not increase or decrease just because I purchased them at a discounted price. I don't really think what I'm doing now is any different than what I did during times of economic prosperity.

For me, it's about living frugally but living well, as in the case of turning an $18 meal at a nice restaurant into a $9 meal by requesting a doggy bag if I can't eat all of the food in one setting. Or accidentally stumbling on a premium outlet mall in Orlando--not really knowing what the hoopla is all about--but enjoying significant savings on designer clothes and shoes. Mind you, I do not advocate excessive consumerism, but many of the items purchased in 2010 teeter between being a need and a want. Dues to my husband James' and my extraordinarily busy lifestyles, we don't have time to shop for clothing, so visiting the premium outlet was a treat.

Just as I learned and continue to learn how to save money as a consumer, I am discovering ways to do the same with my business, as in the case of saving money on expensive ink cartridges. Coupons came out in full force during the holiday season (you betcha, with travel, gifts, food, and let's not forget our normal bills). Most coupons record savings right there on the receipt, so that made it easy to tabulate this year. These entries do not capture every single purchase where I saved money; and yes, there are instances in which I "miss."

Since embarking on this journey off and on for a decade (My, how fast time has flown!), I have saved not hundreds, but literally thousands of dollars that were re-directed toward other uses in our household. Most notably, $3,500 worth of documented savings in 2007. Point being, a little bit here, and a little bit there can add up over the long haul.

Honorable mention: I was pleasantly surprised when a stranger turned in my debit card that was lost during snowy blizzard conditions! (see December 10 entry).

Winter vacation is a time where I can pull out the receipts sans daily distractions to update my Blog of Money Saved, so until this time next year, here is a re-cap of 2010 savings. Remember to share and send your 2011 savings to this site. I could very well be posted to help other consumers committed to paying less for more.

January 23
I am in the process of organizing papers in preparation of our C.P.A. to do our taxes. Discovered that a check in the amount that I had written last fall was not cleared until January. "How odd," I thought. After investigating a bit, here is what happened: I wrote a check for $100. The party indicated that they had not received the check, and so I wrote another for $100. It was received and cashed soon thereafter. My party subsequently found the first check, unintentionally and accidentally cashed the first check in January. I downloaded images of both canceled checks from my bank, simply e-mailed them, they admitted the error and promptly refunded me the $100. Savings as a result of seeking to be organized: $100.

January 27
Both of our Publishers contacted us about the returnability feature regarding our books. We jointly determined that if a book seller does not wish to purchase our books because it does not allow them to return the book, then that is a risk we will take. On the other hand, if a patron walks in off of the street requesting our books, then the book seller knows where to order them. $300 savings for me, and $106.14 savings for my husband for a total savings of $406.14.

January 30
Re-ordered 50 oversized, glossy postcards from VistaPrint because I ran out after being queried on where to find my book (that's a good thing). Entered the right code (the key with VistaPrint). Got them for free! Paid a little more than I should have on shipping and handling--$14.47 for up to 5 business days--not because of VistaPrint, but because I'm in a position where I should have re-ordered much sooner. Nonetheless, saved $19.99 on the cards themselves.

January 31
Took advantage of early-bird registration for the WISE Symposium for April 8, 2010. WISE stands for Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, and I am pleased to say that this will be my 3rd year to attend, Lord willing. Last year, I was a Presenter. This year, I plan to exhibit my books, give out free articles and sign women up for future financial literacy education offerings. Regular registration: $65, but paid $45. I think the Exhibitor fee is $180 regardless. Saved $20.

January business savings: $546.13

January 7
Thanks to the Peer Networking Group for the lunch pail and gift mug as a result of speaking to/addressing their group on basic financial literacy principles.

January 21
Taking a cooking class at the SouthSide Innovation Center (SSIC) is one of my regular R&R activities. This time, my husband was able to join me as we cooked a very nice menu. The cost of the class is $20 per person, but our Syracuse University ID cards afforded us with 50% off. Therefore, the cost was $20 for both of us as opposed to $40. Savings: $20.

January 29
Bought 50 medium-sized plastic baggies for 3.99, whereas I could have purchased 40 for the same price. Not sure why the supermarket priced them exactly the same. But hey, I made out with a quantity of 10 more.

January personal savings: $20

February 4
James and I ate a late lunch at "Nothing But Noodles" and presented $5 off coupon for orders over $25. Order came to 29.33 and paid 24.33 plus tax. Saved $5.

February 6
Posted Women TIES' Woman of the Week Link and article on Twitter, but I still haven't decided on how to best utilize Twitter for my business. I blocked public access because it was attracting questionable characters. You know, you click on their link and exclaim, "Holy Cow! What in the world are you into!?"

February 9
Bought a combination of birthday cards and Valentine's Day cards, as usual, as Factory Card & Party Outlet. Looks like they're now posting savings on their receipts, too. I bought a card that regularly cost $3.49 for $1.19. My receipt indicates a total savings of $9.96. Although my cards have historically cost 99 cents, I'm still confident that I'm saving money because I can't even buy a card at some specialty card shops for less than 6-8 bucks. Some might make a case for sending e-cards for free. I'm not against that at all and have sent e-cards. I think in this day and age of electronic communications, people--at least on my list--still appreciate receiving a card in the mail.

February 10
Bought toothpaste at CVS. This particular brand was on a "Buy 1/Get 1 Free" sale. Saved $2.79.

Checked with my local library for "In Praise of Slowness" by Carl Honore. The highest price point for a new book is $10.19 on Amazon, and the lowest Amazon listing is $3.94 as of this writing. Whatever the case, saved $7.07 (somewhere in the middle). If I like the book, I'll order it for my library. But for now, I'll read it for free. This is also a space issue, as we're limited on terms of where we can store our books.

February 13
Business: Got tired of updating the cost of my blog on this date; and then 2 months later, my domain name is up for renewal, and so on and so forth. Therefore, I finally did what I had been planning to do for a long time in the vein of simplification: I batched and consolidated my renewals for the same date in 2011. The total cost of my domain name, blog site, etc. should have been $405.04. The customer service representative offered me 5% discount, and then I counter-offered with a special code I had seen on their site for 20%. The total annual cost came to $329.28. Savings: $75.76. Lesson learned: Use those special coupon and discount codes!

February 13
Personal: Today just didn't didn't feel like paying market rate for gas if I don't have to, and I have time to drive to BJs for the savings. Surprised I made it there; my car is showing empty! Paid member rate of $2.739/gallon. Today's local market rate (without the card wash) is approximately $2.86/gallon. 12.794 gallons totals $35.04. Would have paid market price of $36.59. Saved $1.55.

March 6
Was told that I am receiving a scholarship for the WISE Conference (see 1/31/10). Pre-paid $65 for early-bird registration. So this means I am receiving a $65 refund.

April 4
Invited impromptu to Easter Dinner after church; canceled buffet reservations, where we would have paid approx. $25 per person, plus taxes and gratuity/tip. Watched "The Passion of the Christ" in our host's private screening room. Saved $50 at least on the meal.

April 5
Received a bill in the mail for $133 from January when I got shots for an accidental burn upon the Physician Assistant's advice. Called doctor's office just to be sure. Sure enough, they had my old medical card number from before SU changed over. Not sure how this happened, since they ask for my card every single time I go to the doctor's office. But administrative errors do occur from time to time (see chapter 5.39 of my book). Saved $133.

May 10
Saved $50 from calling a vendor and questioning their invoice. Service was rendered for 2 hours, but this was not clearly indicated on the invoice and the amount amount due seemed a little high. I called him, and he admitted an honest mistake was made. He took $50 off of $200 invoice. Lesson learned: when hiring service contractors at an hourly rate, clock in when contractors showed up and make a note of it with the owner/manager/supervisor so that it coincides with the subsequent invoice you will receive.

June vacation savings:
Vacation breakfasts were included in our hotel room costs. Listen up, waiters, waitresses and room service folks everywhere: My husband James is a generous tipper!

June 25
The hotel we stayed at in Niagara Falls, Canada was offering facial masks upwards of $200. No way--I Googled natural facial masks and decided to try one. Basic ingredients I saw across-the-board included oatmeal, olive oil, honey, yogurt, and lemon. I experimented with one mixture and let it stay on for 15 minutes. My face and skin feels and smells good. James and I really splurged on my nieces and ourselves during the June vacation because we work so hard year-round; but as of July 1, I am re-committing myself to frugality. For instance, last night, rather than running out for fast food, I made baked fish, spinach and long grain rice. Brown and long grain beats white rice, which basically breaks down into sugar in my blood stream (although the long grain was high in sodium content). Please do not take this entry as providing expertise in skincare or diet advice. Consult your appropriate specialists. I am simply trying to find my way nutritionally and health-wise as so many others are, while balancing our budget.

Summer 2010
Twice a year, I conduct an assessment of "40 ways to save" outlined in my book. Here are a couple of examples:

* No business magazine subscriptions. I do not like paper piling up on me plus, I get to borrow and read Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company and Black Enterprise for free at the SouthSide Innovation Center

* Costs $24-$29 to clean bed linen at the dry cleaners. I will make the time to go to the laundromat since the three sets of bed linen is too big for our washing machine. The median cost of savings is $26.50 minus the cost of $16 that it took to wash them at the laundromat equals $63.50 in savings.

July 7
Bought some items from Ollie's Bargain Discount Outlet. Received 10% off of entire order with coupon sent to me in the mail. Included on my shopping list were envelopes, and they just so happened to have Staples-branded self-sealing security envelopes (qty. 250) for only $3.14. Entire purchase should have cost, but cost $33.95. Saved $3.14.

July 8
Someone shared with me today that he paid off his home mortgage. I am so happy for him and his wife!

July 9
Saved $1.50 on CVS photos of my nieces' vacation.

July 12
Needed to purchase letter- and legal-sized manilla bucket file folders (the kind with the closed sides and bottom). Redeemed a $15 coupon for the 50-pack $35 legal-sized, and a $9 coupon for the 8-pack $12.80 letter-size. Printed out the $15 and $9 online coupons as a result of handing in empty ink cartridges this past spring. Saved $24 today.

July 13
Invited to participate in Syracuse University Whitman School of Management's Entrepreneurship Bootcamp -- a $650 value -- for free for being a Client of the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) at the SouthSide Innovation Center. Potential savings if we register to attend: a whopping $650.

July 14
Used a coupon to obtain a free box of Gain detergent from the laundromat. Spent in $38 worth in quarters doing the heavy-duty winter laundry anyway. Sure--I'll take a free box of detergent.

July 15
James and I signed up for Identity Theft Protection Services. Not that anything has happened, but it's been on our radar for a while now, and in this day and age of ever-increasing online cybertheft. . .While we were on the phone with the CSR, he was on the company's site on his laptop downstairs, and I was on the the company's site on the desktop upstairs. Before I closed the browser, a Virtual Rep of the company (not knowing I was on the phone) must've known I was on and basically sent a message "Wait, don't go yet. Here's a special discount code for your to use. I gave the code to the Phone Rep, and our $110 per person annual membership fee was reduced to $99 pp. Further, we are grandfathered in. That's $11 per annum fee times 2 ppl. = $22 Savings. but exponentially. . .Thanks, Virtual Rep, wherever you are in CyberSpace.

July 22
Ate out a couple of times this week due to after-work activities every single night. On two occasions, $16 meals turned into $8 meals because of a doggy bag. Four $8 meals saved me $16.

July 23
Drove James to the airport b/c taxicab estimates are $50 from where we live, so I bit the bullet and got up at 4 a.m., he drove for his 7 a.m. flight to Chicago, and I drove to work (actually, gas and treated myself to breakfast) and got in at 8 a.m. Saved 100 bucks by driving to and from myself. . .literally.

July 25
We stayed at a Hampton Inn, a brand new 4 month old property, for our Anniversary. I simply indicated that it's our Anniversary, that we're Hilton HHonors members (in fact, James had recently stayed at Chicago Hilton for a conference), and can she upgrade us? She did--King Suite @ $139/night. King is normally $149-159/night, and Queen is $139/night. Comp Breakfast included. Saved $40 on accommodations alone. Thanks, Eliana.

July 26
Re-ordered business cards. Wanted the slowest shipping method, but this online vendor bombarded me with all of it's ads on the way to checkout, and so I didn't pay enough attention to what I was doing and clicked the 3rd method. Could have saved $3 and change. Bought husband's anniversary card at the Christian Bookstore. Asked for 40% verses 20% discount on the card, even though there was a printing error. The clerk thought about it. . .I let her know that I'm coming back for two sound tracks for music ministry at church. Cost was $4.49 minus $1.79. paid $2.70.

July 29
Bought an item for $1.79, but paid $1.59 using my CVS card. Saved 29 cents.

As promised to the Christian Bookstore Clerk, I bought the two performance tracks. Total combined cost for both: $17.96. Paid $12.78, thereby saving $5.18.

August 7
Saved $5 off of apparatus to clean my salads @ Bed, Bath & Beyond. Should have cost $25, but cost $20. Later received a tip from one of my financial literacy 101 students that BB&BY honors those $5 coupons sent in the mail even if it's a little past the expiration date.

August 16
Bought multiple copies of the Post-Standard where my article appeared in MoneyWise. Gotta send copies to Mom back home and other family members, right? Byrne Daily offers it for 49 cents M-Th and Saturday, and for only a penny on Fridays (limit 1 per customer). Regular price is 75 cents. Bought six (6), so savings of $1.56. Thanks, Byrne Dairy.

August 17
Received a Spaghetti Warehouse coupon electronically from an SU employee. Dined there tonight with James while discussing household and business affairs. Saved $10 (4.99 vs. 9.99 pp/spaghetti meal). Thanks, Marty!

August 19
Saved $2.00 by rendering a CVS coupon for Colgate toothpaste. Should have paid 4.69, but paid 2.69.

August 21
Saved $3 by using a P&C coupon: Spend $35 and get $3 off (more off the more we purchase); plus an additional $1.61 off for using the Shopper Club frequency rewards card for a total savings of $4.61.

August 31
Bought ten (10) brand-new clear table-top sign stands totaling $62.96. Used $10 OfficeMax coupon, bringing the total to $52.96. Saved $10.

September 5
Accessorized suits bought at Macy's at Kohl's. Jewelry should have cost $54, but cost $38.24 due to sales. Saved $15.76.

Labor Day Weekend
Knowing that the fall is the busiest season for me (conferences, teaching, lecturing), I want to purchase a couple of suits. Yes, it's not a need, but a want. Bought three (3) suits that should have cost a combined total $769, but actually cost me $184 for a savings of $585. There's nothing like a power suit at a heavily discounted price.

As a matter of fact, let's just add up all of the Macy's savings this fall. Even though I am not a cardholder, I simply asked the clerk if there were any coupons and most of the time, s/he happily obliged. Let's see, between accessorizing the suits and buying makeup and shoes (see 9/5/10), not to mention repeat trips back on 9/18, the total should have been $145, but actually cost $90.59 for a savings of $54.41.

Mind you, I am not a shopaholic, but there comes a time to update your wardrobe, especially if you're in the public eye.

September 7
Needed to make copies of all of the financial education articles I have written for the upcoming Gwen Inc. conference for professional women of color. I am a co-presenter on the workshop titled "Sister, do you have a dime?". Due to a special on black and white and color copies that UPS is running, the cost was $79.90, but should have been higher.

September 17
Congratulations to Tonya Hicks for visiting my Blog and being the first conference attendee to respond to "under what circumstance I received an on-the-spot cash refund of $432." Tonya was mailed a complimentary, autographed copy of James' first book, "Living Sacrifices: For Those Dying to Rise to a Life Worth Giving" (WinePress 2003).

September 18
Saved 2.30 off of retail price for cards at the Factory Card & Party Outlet. Plus pre-bought Christmas gifts for my nieces (disposable cameras): 3 qty. @ regular $5.99 for $2 bucks apiece. Saved $12.

September 19
James' 50% savings on brand new glasses, sunglasses, goggles at Pearl Vision; Paid $612.44 (for regular glasses, sunglasses and goggles since he plays racquetball). Could have paid $612.46 additionally. . .I'm literally counting up all of the "minuses" on the receipt. This is a long-overdue expense due to him working so hard and not having time to shop.

After purchasing the glass frames, James and I dined at Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse down the street, where James ordered a--what else--steak. However, it wasn't what he thought it would be and he politely and graciously returned it when the waitress asked him about it without asking for a substitute or anything in return. To our astonishment, the head waiter came out to solicit James' feedback, and then invited him to order another steak off of the menu. James selected the Delmonico Steak this time. Savings? Easy. It's $29.48. It's right there listed as a comp item on the check. Further, he wasn't charged for the one returned. Needless to say, we'll dine there again and this time, order the Delmonico steak.

October 1-4
Attended my alma mater reunion at Anderson University in Indiana for Homecoming and even more specifically, the Multicultural Reunion within the Homecoming. Stayed in Fisher's, IN, halfway between Anderson and Indianapolis because Anderson hotels were booked. Marriott was $99.95/night King bed, small kitchenette, living/desk w/sleeper sofa plus continental Breakfast. Used Avis Rental Car at $99.27 flat fee for 2.5 days. Avis gave me a weekend rental rate plus they asked for hotel and airline I was using so they could log in my miles. They lived up to their motto of "We try harder" in this case (perhaps to woo me away from one of their competitors that I use consistently use?) Oh well, competition is good for the consumer. When traveling, remember to cross-provide points: airline-car rental-hotel and AAA if you have it. Ironically, I didn't spend much out-of-pocket money, except when giving and sharing with others. My family treated me at Ryan's Buffet for my birthday. I slurp up the pomp and circumstance, including the singer waiters!

October 11
Chilly Syracuse weather has arrived (mind you, I was in Indiana and it was gorgeous). Contractor walked James through how to fix the pilot light/furnace, because we usually have to call him. It worked. This saved us the contractor's labor fee, which is usually $40. The pilot light was a mere $8.37 at Home Depot.

Someone sent me two comp tickets to the 2010 SOHO Small Business Show at the OnCenter on October 14th, a $10 value. Thanks! I'll give one of them away to my financial literacy students.

October 12
This entry is being entered simply to represent how on 9/10, I took a doggy bag on a dine-in meal home. In today's case, a Thai restaurant where my meal cost $18 including tip, but to me, it was really a $9 meal since I took half home to consume later.

October 15
Bought cards for our pastors in honor of Pastoral Appreciation Month. They should have cost a combined total of $14.94, but Sacred Melody Bookstore is always sending me coupons, so I saved $1.60.

October 19
Returned copy key at The UPS Store and received a $5 refund, which I re-deposited into my business account.

October 23
My church, the Family Worship Center, sponsored a Silent Auction Dinner to benefit the missionary team going to Honduras. Many local businesses made an in-kind donation. I bid (and won) a Strive for Strength fitness/personal training certificate valued at $40 for $10; and an Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse gift certificate valued at $50 for $45 (competitive bidding took place). Paid $55 for items valued at $90. Saved $35. The cause is worth far more than any dollar amount.

October 27
Purchased office supplies at Office Depot using a $10 coupon. Merchandise should have cost $31.57, but cost $21.57 instead.

November 8
Our Verizon bundled package bill jumped from $145 to $150 because our contract had expired. I renewed it and saved $60/year for the next two years, plus $5 extra retroactively for this month's bill totaling $125.

November 12
Saved $3 using CVS coupon to purchase another laptop bag, as the strap on my other one broke. Should have cost $14.99, but cost $11.99.

November 24
Bought women's dress boots since threw out my decade-old ones at the end of last winter. Black pair not in the store, so called-in ordering using a Macy's coupon. They honored it. Should have cost $149, but paid $129.59. Saved $19.41. Thanks, Alan!

Thanksgiving weekend
Marked my calendar to remind me to purchase Orlando tickets more in advance than I had been in the past in order to save money. It's the same flight as those paying more.

December 3
Bought black ink toner for my HP Laser Jet for $139.99 representing a $10 savings off of the normal $149.99 price. This is the only home office-related supply that costs this much, so when Office Max or Staples sends me their coupons for higher-priced purchases, I save them specifically for ink cartridges.

December 6
Bought 50th Anniversary cards for a very special couple dear to us (so much so, that one wasn't enough They should have cost $7.48 at Sacred Melody Bookstore, but with a coupon, they cost $5.80. Saved $1.68

December 10
Lost my debit card in the snowy blizzard conditions this week. Retraced my steps using receipts from this past week. Receipts jogged my memory that I had bought gas. Returned to Delta Sonic gas station, halfway expecting that my next stop would be to the bank to place a stop on the card. . .but Delta Sonic had my debit card! A man found it lying face-down in the slushy snow on the day of the blizzard and turned it in. God bless you, whoever and wherever you are.

December 14
Called Discover card to redeem my Cashback Bonus of $25.17. However, I was told by the customer service representative that I can redeem the with a Discover gift card (so I can go out and consume some more?), but that I would have to accrue $50 before I can receive a good old-fashioned currency deposited directly into my account. How disappointing.

December 17
Stumbled upon Premium Outlet Mall in Orlando while on vacation. Never totally understood what all of the hoopla over outlet malls was all about. Now I know. Designer Brand Names at heavily discounted prices. Once salesperson described their outlet as the "stepchild" of the of the fashion industry. OOKaay. . .anyway, our gain. Focused on getting some needed clothing for both James and me, since we're too busy to shop during our normal lives.

I purchased Izod sweaters - regularly priced between $62 and $70 - for myself for between $15 and $22. Bought 4 beautiful sweaters that should have cost me $268, but actually cost $66.70 for a savings of $201.30!

Also bought a quality Tommy Hilfiger winter scarf for James regularly priced at $30 (29.99), but purchased for $21 (20.99) for a savings of $9.

Also purchased Levi Jeans for James, Timberland boots to battle the Syracuse weather for me, but the savings amounts are not easily discernible. I was tempted by the buy one, get the 2nd half off offer by Timberland, but decided to call it a night before I got into any further trouble. The sweaters was enough of a treat for me.

Got James three pairs of shoes (a need): Reebok Tennis Shoes and Rockport winter snow boots as well as casual shoes. All three should have cost $242.99, but ended up costing $168.95 for a grand savings of $74.04 on brand-name shoes and boots! Buy 2 and get least expensive pair free. Saleslady added a tip that if we had AAA (which we don't), there would have been an additional discount. AAA has been soliciting us to sign-up but I didn't see it as an extra auto-related expense, but not I will consider it for 2011.

Purchased calendars with June vacation photos as Christmas gifts for my nieces at FedEx Office. Selected the 12 best June vacation shots of all of us in Indy for calendar uploading. Used my FedEx Kinkos professional discount card. At 10 calendars (I just had to keep a couple as a keepsake for me, too!), the order should have cost $185.90, but ended up costing me $166.52 for a savings of $19.38. However, I had to ship them to myself for approx. 20 bucks due to concern that I wouldn't be able to fit them in the luggage for the plane (knowing I would go clothes shopping), so the real difference is negligible.

December 18
Went to dine at Emeril's restaurant and see a movie at Universal Studios. Completely forgot from last year that if you park 6 p.m. and after, parking is only $15. We pulled up at 5:30 p.m. and paid the full rate of $15. Miss: $12.

December 19
Late flight back to Syracuse and check-out is upon us. Cloudy skies, so can't really sit out by the lake. So decided to pass time by taking the scenic route to the airport. Punched in "Avoid tolls" into the GPS. This was more about our idea of having fun than saving money. Saved $1.50.

When we did get to the airport, however, our luggage weighed in 3 pounds heavier than we we arrived because I went shopping at the premium outlet mall. The agent asked if there was a way to lighten the load. We happily obliged. JetBlue didn't charge us baggage fees to begin with (1 James, 1 me). This saved us $50.

December 20
Needed to re-order checks, cost $20.75, but the Alliance Bank Manager overrode it as a courtesy to me as a valued business customer. Saved 20.75. Thanks, Andre!

December 22
Bought large envelopes to mail my family's gift calendars in See 12/17). Used Office Max coupons sent to me online as a result of tuning in my ink cartridges. Envelopes should have cost $12.50, but cost $6.50. Saved $6.

Bought Christmas cards from Factory Card & Party Outlet. Suggested retail on these cards is $7.56 more than what I paid.

December 23
Purchased my favorite healthy juice beverage at the grocery store and paid $2.79, a dollar less than the normal price using a manufacturers coupon.

December 24
Bought James dress slacks ($79.99) and a pair of corduroys ($59.99) at Men's Warehouse. Buy 1 (higher-priced item) get one free. Saved $59.99. Here's the real question: are the dress slacks really worth 80 bucks? Just asking.

Purchased food items to make Christmas dinner. Wegmans will be closing early today, and you almost have the feeling of "Oh no, what am I going to do when the supermarket closes?" Of course, in the back of my head I know I'm not going to starve, but it makes me feel like you have to stockpile as if a blizzard were coming. Anyway, I overcame that urge to splurge because the Christmas gifts are enough of a financial toll, so I stuck to the dinner menu ingredients for the most part, and out came the coupons in full force: Grocery bill should have been $110.20, but it turned out to be $85.11 with a grand savings of $25.09.

While I'm at it, saved a grand total of $114.83 (not including the 25.09 above) on groceries this year using the frequency rewards card and coupons.

December 26
James' birthday is on Tuesday. As you could tell from the Christmas gifts, he was solely lacking new clothing items. Went to Macy's after church and bought him a pair of chocolate corduroys and three men's belts. Whole thing should have cost $182, but actually cost $101.83 with savings off of the original price plus a 15% discount coupon from the newspaper. Saved $80.17. Again, it's right there on the receipt.

Bought bottled milk from the dairy store (Byrne Dairy) like I used to from farmers in State College, PA (home of Penn State University). Learned that I can receive deposits upon bottle return.

December 28
Went ahead and applied for AAA. . .$54/year for both of us. Not just vehicular, but savings on retail stores and hotel. We'll see.

Treated James to Ichiban Japenese Steakhouse using the Family Worship Center Silent Auction coupon from October 23rd. Dinner cost $69.32 (including taxes and tip) between the two of us so paid $19.32. Saved $50 (already included in the calculations), but it's really less in an effort to support a worthy cause. Happy Birthday, Hon!

December 30
Needed to get vehicle re-inspected expiration date 12/31. Romano Toyota's system already had a $25 credit from when we had the vehicle repaired earlier this winter. Saved $21, to be exact since I called the dealership to obtain the normal price of the inspection.

December 31
This is by far, hands-down the biggest budget item in our household. Grocery savings: some supermarkets ask for the cards (Price Chopper and CVS) some don't and won't voluntarily ask (I won't mention which). Didn't matter. No frequency rewards card swipe, no dinero. Period. Here are my aggregate grocery savings in 2010: $139.92, almost $140 (see 12/24).

The "Reimbursement" line item from my Quicken schedule (financial software that I've been using for a number of years), indicates that James and I have received $1,784.46 this year by simply applying for our reimbursements through our professional associations and jobs. It's money we ultimately didn't end up spending. Look at it this way: You had to outlay expenditures in the first place. Why not apply for your reimbursements?

Once again, the documented savings for 2010 is over $4,500, $1,000 more than what I saved (didn't spend) in 2007!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"How to organize your family finaces, especially if you are unemployed or face employment uncertainty"

In continuation of the Post-Standard's MoneyWise series titled "Help During Hard Times: Expert Advice on Finding a Job, Managing Money, and Building a Career in CNY", feel free to read my second article in the series (June 14, 2010) titled "How to organize your finances, especially if you are unemployed or face employment uncertainty":

Anyone may download my Personalized Budget Sheet from the Rolling Enterprises' website's Press and Media page:

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Don't Wait for Downsizing: 10 ways to prepare now" cover article appearing in today's Post-Standard MoneyWise supplement

Be sure to check-out my article titled "Don't wait for downsizing: 10 ways to prepare now" in today's Post-Standard MoneyWise supplement. It is part of a series of articles written by a team of experts helping Central New Yorkers with employment and financial advice in this tough economy. This particular article chronicles my journey from having been downsized from a federal agency 14 years ago; and includes 10 tips on what to do while you still have gainful employment. I invite you to click on the following link and post a comment (on my or any of the other writers' articles). Further, you don't have to be a Syracusan or a CNYer to take advantage of this valuable advice:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Money saved during Summer/Fall/Winter 2009

I started blogging about money I have saved since 2007 (offline since 2002). For reasons having to do with working full-time, keeping up with house, hubby and extra-curricular activities, I was simply unable to maintain the blog Summer/Fall/Winter 2009. Further, I tried Tweeting (papermeshae) instances where I saved money, and had to protect my tweets because it was attracting unsavory followers. Finally, I can't seem to get "2007" deleted from the blog title so it doesn't seem so dated, but to no avail. Therefore, this is the decision I have arrived at: this will be the last blog entry posted onto BlogSpot per se. You may continue following this very same blog on my website at Perhaps this one (BlogSpot) will be exported to WordPress in the future.

Having said all of this, here is a summary of the hundreds of dollars I am positive I have saved during summer/fall/winter 2009:

Routine, obligatory actions:

* Calling the credit card company to request a rate reduction on our credit card(s) and receiving it--simply by asking--even in this economic recession
* Taking advantage of Sales, Discounts and Clearances
* Making sure our frequency cards are swiped at CVS, local grocery stores, and office supply stores
* Using our Sam's Club or BJ's membership card to take advantage of lower gas prices
* Making sure our home is purged of old stuff before bringing in new stuff (i.e., clothes).
* Making tea and coffee at work; and making lunch for work unless I wanted to pay for it. I work in an academic environment, so there is always food around; it also helps that I am an event planner! Out grocery bills were higher than normal, though; but I guess I'd rather take this over eating out all of the time.


* My "baby" sister, a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature, gave me two free article edits/review--valued at $40--as my birthday gift.
* My toll-free vanity number costs me 10 bucks a month, even if there are no incoming calls; I called the phone company to see how can I reduce my cost while retaining the number, and the CSR offered to put it in suspension for $5 a month. Until my profile increases, it's a done deal. Saved $60/year
* NYS Fair admission tickets cost $10 pp. Purchased (3) tickets in advance at $6 each at my local supermarket. Saved $12.
* In my job capacity, I make sure vendors we're doing business with are provided the university's tax exempt form.
* We went to Wal-Mart to stock the fridge with food while on vacation and saved tons of money by not eating out, unless we wanted to.
* We also saved money on our vacation rental car by filling-up the tank before returning the vehicle.
* This year we finally bought furniture. I window-shopped for over a year, and zoned in on the furniture stores/types of furniture/sales reps I wanted to patronize before bringing my husband in to make the final decision/purchase. I do not like being followed around while shopping, so sales reps who respected my space--while being available, of course--received the sales commission.
* Did I already tell you the one about receiving a whopping $432 refund on a patio furniture set from Home Depot because we purchased the furniture, came back with our U-Haul truck to load the furniture, and got the heftiest refund I've ever received because the item went on sale in the interim due to the 4th of July holiday?
* Purchased a leather sectional during a furniture store's going-out-of-business clearance sale (and we still negotiated the final price successfully), thereby saving hundreds of dollars.
* Further, we utilized balance transfer checks, good for 0% interest for the full year; paid the 3% fee; and we have a pay-off plan in place.
* To accessorize, I bought inexpensive, quality-looking decor and accessories vs. going to a florist or interior designer.
* The Living Room looks fab and we won't have the debt to go along with it! Despite our "microwave" society, delayed gratification and patience is not out-of-style.
* Received a GPS as a gift this fall!


* Using regular coupons from Sacred Melody and Factory Card Outlet, where the cards are already generally less than $1.50 anyway
* Requesting discounts on vehicle repairs
* Redeeming "Kohl's Kash", coupons toward the next shopping trip after making a minimum purchase amount generating a $10 coupon, at least in my case. I have used this three times to purchase gifts during the holiday season, and have saved $30 (off of items I was going to purchase anyway).
* Purchased a Syracuse coupon book for $20; but the savings far outweigh the price of the book; for instance, there are numerous restaurant coupons such as buy one entree, get another for free!
* Booking certain purchases in advance (i.e., airfare tickets)
* Calling our Phone/Internet/Cable carrier upon notification of a rate increase and being granted exemption from the bundled increase--simply by asking--even in this economic recession
* Questioning an automatic overcharge on our credit card by $50 and getting it corrected/credited


* Gotta watch that parking downtown!

The largest cash refund I have ever received in a single transaction!

Sometime during the last week of June, we purchased a patio furniture set from Home Depot that we ultimately decided to make as part of our living room set instead because it was too nice to subject to the weather elements outside. We returned to Home Depot to pick-up the set, coincidentally, on July 4th. While my husband was parking the U-Haul truck and as I was waiting for the store reps to locate the furniture, I wandered over to the patio department. The same set was marked for $432 less than what we paid for it because it had gone on sale for the Fourth of July Holiday! I inquired at the Customer Service Desk as to whether or not we were eligible for a refund, showed them our receipt, and they promptly opened up their cash register and handed me the $432 difference in cash! I couldn't believe it. Lesson learned: Those holiday sales really do pay-off. Savings: $432.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

CVS Coupon

Saved $2.99 off of a $4.28 purchase by using a CVS receipt coupon. That's a 70% savings!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I was quoted in the Spring 2009 Special Edition issue of “Consumer Reports” magazine, page 9. The article is titled “Ramp up your savings” and my comments address savings, budgeting and the utilization of financial software.