Monday, November 24, 2008

It's me again!

The economy has tanked, it's winter and why are some radio stations playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving?

Not much we can do about the economy. It needs to reset itself. Clip coupons, eat out less and conserve cash! The holiday season does not mean that you need to go into debt. Make gifts, give the gift of time or barter. Seriously.

I bought a ton of gifts from Hallmark on clearance (and with a coupon). Target's clearance section is skimpy for the holiday so, I am checking my alternate sources. Put a clearance item in a cute bag (also found on clearance) with tissue and you look like you did something special. You can be thoughtful and frugal.

The best gifts I ever received were:
  • a towel to wrap around my body after a shower
  • an afghan made by Grandma
  • recipes

I have to admit that I am somewhat crafty. I recently took a sewing class (at 25% off) and made pajama pants. Cut out two pieces of material, sew the crotch, sew the legs and hem. Instant gift. And fleece is on sale/clearance at most sewing stores. Some stores even have ready made pajama pants for around $7 each (fleece and thermal). I also make body creme (mango and/or shea butter with jojoba oil).

Okay, that's it for holiday gift ideas.

Frugal JD

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm back . . . . been around the world or does it just feel that way

Man, what a week. President-Elect Obama! It's sad that I was too afraid to even hope for this.

Every time I watch the clip of Sherri Shepard on the View, I lose it. I rarely cry but, that has done it twice and I am tearing up just thinking about it.

Dude has his work cut out for him. The country is in shambles. Banks closing, businesses filing BK, homes being foreclosed. I actually found a home in the city I live in (IN CALIFORNIA) for $153,000. I haven't seen a home (with garage and fireplace) for that price in about ten years. It actually looked livable from the pictures. Now, I had to say that because I saw others that were priced higher that I would not use to house a dog.

Oh, back to my point. I just read Fresh's blog and he said that these are not the Huxtables, entertainers, sports figures . . . these are two people (Harvard Educated Attorneys) that worked hard and believed in each other. Can you imagine the belief Michelle had when her husband said he wanted to run for President? I want that kind of belief in my mate (which is why I am single).

I say that I am single because I am still a bit too selfish for that. But, I have yet to meet the man that makes me feel he can move mountains. Ever had that kind of faith in someone you dated/married?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Craziness at work

Up until now, I have loved my job. Great atmosphere. Lots of work and it is work but, I like what I do. I know that I help people by doing my job well.

Yes, the company is known for boobs and wrinkle serums but, we do MANY other things.

Anyway, my boss has morphed into someone unrecognizable. I used to be impressed with his behavior and thoughtfulness.

Over the past month, he has done several things to make me feel completely betrayed. First, an employee left our department to go to another group. He sent an email to our entire department that she was leaving and I would absorb her work (without telling me first). I was annoyed but gathered from his email that if no one willingly left our group, I would lose a job (last hired, first fired). Then, he started playing favorites within our group. We are all in a small area so, it is obvious. I went on a vacation; I was told that I had to find my replacement. I found someone to cover for me. A week later, I had two co-workers go on vacation and I was told that I was covering for them. Okay, a double standard. I intended to address it at bonus time! Yes, a girl is all about getting paid. Then, they returned and two days later, he took them to a taping of Deal or No Deal (during the work day)! It was a secret. No one in our group was to know. There are ten of us. He took 2 during the workday, after they returned from 2 week vacations!

This man has never left the building without telling the entire group that he would be gone. This time, he disappeared without a word. When a co-worker asked him about the taping, he downplayed it and denied that the co-workers were with him. Sorry, but I saw you leave the building. I think he could be fired for this but, the dilemma is what to do?

Any tips?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

He is an on-time God

I have been unemployed for almost four months. I have maintained a positive attitude (I do not know how) and been patient (me patient?).

Tomorrow, I start a position at a company that I have admired for years. Can't tell you the name because it is international but, the position meets most of my requirements.

  1. International - I need a global focus. National is just not enough and the last company was only statewide.
  2. Manufacturer - I adore working with scientists and other creative types. Plus, there is always the opportunity to learn about the product.
  3. Legal Department - for now, I want to enhance my legal skills. Yes, I have over ten years of experience and a law degree but, I want to work for someone that I admire (possible mentor).
  4. Values Employees- that is just not a phrase to repeat. I worked for a wonderful company that did monthly employee appreciation (the owners really appreciated the employees). I was spoiled and still steer business their way. The pay was LOW but they made up for it with the appreciation.
  5. On site amenities - Give me a gym so that I can pretend to use it or a cafeteria. Some type of perks. This place is amazing (gym and fitness equipment, cafeteria and concierge).

There are so many other things I could say about this but, I continue to pray that I will follow His word and will and use this position to honor HIM. Somehow, I was able to give this to him and not worry. I was always fed, housed and able to do a little shopping.

I am so excited and nervous. I want to shine and prosper. And on that note, I am going to bed.

Be blessed,

Frugal JD

Friday, February 1, 2008

How I Effectively Use Coupons

Last time, I discussed how to make a grocery list. Now, for my big secret--coupons.

I love using coupons. I am thrifty, frugal and use La Mer. It is all about balance.

I subscribe to the Sunday newspaper. I live in a larger metropolitan area which has several newspapers from which to choose. I subscribe to the L.A. TI.MES. I got a great deal for $39 per year (Sunday only delivery) and they have the best coupon selection.

Every Sunday, I read the first section of the newspaper. In Southern California, the grocers add store coupons in this section. Occasionally they add them in separate flyers but, certain chains list them in this section every Sunday. They list things like Colgate Too.thpaste, Sale Price $2.50 less coupon $1.00 less double coupon $1.00, your final cost $0.50. This is why I shop at that chain and why I save 45-75% off each receipt. I have had similar experiences in Denver and in the midwest. Just read the newspaper a couple of times and you will see the pattern.

I cannot stress this enough. If you are young, or just starting out, try various brands. We recently found that the store brand fruit snacks tasted better to us and had less sugar than the national brands. Each local chain store uses the same manufacturer for their fruit snacks. They are frequently on sale for 30% of the price of the national brands. I recommend starting with the store brands for canned/non-perishable items and if they are not to your liking, move to the next brand until you find one that suits you.

Once you know which brands you prefer, look for coupons. Right now, I subscribe to 3 online coupon systems (you print the coupons you like) and I receive emails from Pillsbury and Kraft which include coupons.

Even though you know which brands you prefer, you may want to occasionally try other brands. Right now, I am furious that T.ide keeps changing their packaging and you actually get less product than before at a higher cost. I am trying other brands. Ultra my eye . . . let me get off my soapbox. But, check out other brands. Oh, my other little secret is They have a wonderful listing of taste tests. They are the consumer reports of food. I switched ketchup brands because of their taste test (I save money and enjoy the flavor).

By now you are looking in your Sunday newspaper and have a pile of coupon inserts. What do you do with the inserts?

You clip only for the items you use, can afford or are very interested in trying. If you see a great coupon for something you use often, I recommend buying additional newspapers. The reason behind my logic is that if you need 6 rolls of toilet paper per month and those 6 rolls are less than $1 with a coupon, you should get 2-3 newspapers to ensure that you have a month's supply at the coupon price. If you do not use all of the coupons you have clipped, save them in an envelope near the area where you make your grocery list.

I save my inserts for 3-4 weeks after I recycle the rest of the newspaper. Why? I may have missed something. I frequently find that I am too optimistic in my clipping and have to go back and clip something later. When I clip coupons, I usually spend 5-10 minutes clipping and organizing. That's it. Before you read the newspaper, get a pen, paper and scissors. Then, you are ready to clip and add items to your list.

There are many organizers sold for insane amounts of money. I spent years keeping my coupons in a zip type storage bag. It worked and was inexpensive. I have graduated to keeping my coupons in a folder. A simple two pocket folder (used for school). I keep coupons which will expire during the current month or up to the 15th of the following month on the left side and all remaining coupons on the right side. Around the first of the month, I purge all expired coupons and move coupons to the left side as needed. Each Sunday when I clip, I add coupons to the appropriate side (unless I am using them to shop). I like this system because no one knows what is in the folder and it has a bit more organization than the clear bag.
For shopping I use an ordinary envelope. I have a divided coupon organizer but, rarely use it. It is too big and takes too much time. My list is at the front of the envelope. Coupons are organized behind the list. My categories are: Canned Items and Candy, Refrigerated Items, Frozen Items, Personal Care and Household Items. For example, flour coupons, crescent roll coupons, frozen pizza coupons, shampoo coupons followed by cleaning coupons. If I am in the center of the store in the cleaning products aisles, I do not have to sort through canned good coupons to get to what I need; I know that the coupons for cleaning items will be near the back of the envelope. Sometimes I place my coupons in the fold of the list (if I am using a full sized sheet of paper). It just depends on how many items you plan to purchase.
I will let you in on a secret:

It is Super Bowl Season, guess what is on sale? Salad dressing, frozen pizza, sodas, beer and liquor, snacks, peanuts. The grocers know what we will be eating on Sunday. Around the holidays, baking items are on sale. During the summer, summer fruits and vegetables are on sale. Because of coupons and the holiday season, I stocked up on soda at a cost of about $0.02 per serving. I had so much soda, I gave it away.

Right now, I am feeding a family of four on less than $75 per week. This includes 3 meals per day for 3 adults and one child. Our cupboards are fully stocked, we are meat eaters so, that is 2-3 meals per day with a meat entree. Last night, we had t-bone steaks, french fries, sauteed zucchini and cake for dessert.

Next time, more online sources for sales and discounts,
Frugal JD

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Options and How to Grocery Shop

First, I have to share this offer. I have the opportunity to use recently remodeled office space rent free. I can open my own business. Unfortunately, I do not know what to do (using that space). I did come up with other ideas . . .

After speaking with a very smart friend, I decided to share my method of grocery shopping. She hates to shop and I LOVE it. I love almost everything about cooking. She was shopping with coupons and had a hard time seeking brands to satisfy the coupons and was very frustrated with the entire process. Bells went off for me. I can share my tips with you (okay, with my future readers).

First Things First
What do you like to eat? Start with a list of foods you enjoy. Then, supplement that with foods you always want to enjoy at home but, never have the ingredients on hand. I know that list making is tedious but, if you just make a mental list, it helps.

Then, pull out your handy supermarket fliers to see what is on sale. When you look at the list, you will see items needed to make those foods you enjoy. Pick 2 or 3 (or more) of those foods and start your grocery list (this is better written). There are staples you should have on hand like bread, milk, butter, etc. A bowl of cereal or toast and jam makes a great breakfast or dinner. So, think of those things you always want in your fridge (I like milk, juice, butter, jam, eggs). If those items are in the fridge, I can make almost anything (if my pantry is stocked).

Once you have your written list, look at your coupons and check the expiration dates. If the items on your list (or something needed to complete a dish) is contained in those coupons and you will use the item paperclip the coupon to the list and add the item (I add a C beside items for which I have coupons) to the list.

By the simple act of making a list, you will remember most of the items when you get to the store. I forget my lists from time to time but, there is something about writing that list that keeps it in your head.

This is the most important thing to remember, eat first. Do not go to the grocery store hungry. This is when I spend more than $50. Everything looks good and you pick up something to eat in the car . . . by the time you make it home, you can't make a meal. But you can certainly eat all the food while driving!

Here are a list of general items to stock the fridge and pantry:

Peanut Butter
Salt and Pepper
Flour (B)
Baking Soda (B)
Baking Powder (B)
Cereal or Oatmeal

With these items you can feed yourself for a week. Think about it--cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, apple and peanut butter for snacks, meat and veggies for dinner. If you want to get fancy, you can even make pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. The items with a (B) after them are intended for those that bake. Notice that I did not add vanilla or other extracts (that is advanced). I did not list a pre-made baking mix because of the additives. It is easy enough to blend the dry ingredients.

Next time, I will tackle my way of using coupons.

Happy Shopping,
Frugal JD

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year

Well, it is the new year and I still am not working. I am okay with the unemployment.

Bored as heck, but financially sound. I made some moves which removed over $2k from my monthly budget. I was awarded unemployment so, my bills are paid with a bit extra left over each month.

I am still plotting new ways to squeeze the heck out of a dime or make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Right now my F*!& you fund is only down $1000. That was the money spent on unexpected car repairs. For Christmas, I did really well. The kid was happy and spent 2 days in his bedroom playing with his gifts! I think I selected well for him.

I have a few opportunities that look promising but, do not want to settle just for a job. Yes, I really need health insurance but, more importantly, I need mental stimulation. I cannot write as if I am writing to a below average intelligence infant. Nor will I be threatened at every turn. Yes, the California workplace can be brutal. One day I will post a picture of the view that I wake to each day. It is amazing when sunny or cloudy.

Looking for paid mental stimulation,

On the stroll