Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's the small things...

So, when I have $5.00 left in the pay cycle, what should I do with it? Take it to Burger King? Nah. Buy some afternoon sodas at Circle K? Uh-uh. Hang onto it until I see something that really calls to me? Yes, I think that's it.

I didn't expect to find anything at Beall's Outlet while I was shopping there this past lazy Monday afternoon. I had the day off and both kids were in school. I couldn't be in the house because Corey's phone was still exploding with Super Bowl requests. I really just went to Beall's to price some things I'd had my eye on, and to kill some time.

When I reached the far back corner of the store where the clearance items were, I stumbled upon some secret treasures. Something pink caught my eye; a pink and white striped photo album. I turned it over to see the price and was stunned to see that it had been marked down to $.20!!!! Yes, you read that correctly, twenty-cents. There were two pink photo albums at that price. One will be filled with pictures of Lily this year, and I'll give it to her for her birthday next year. The other will make a great present at a girl-themed baby shower.

I also found not one, but two wine gift bags. Corey and I are always giving bottles of wine as gifts, and at $.60 each, I snatched up both of them. It's cheaper than at the Dollar Tree! I spent a whopping $1.75 at the cash register for the four items! It really is the small things in life that bring an unexpected smile. I left Beall's patting myself on the back for my stellar bargain hunting.

The next day was another day off for me. I made arrangements with a friend of mine to meet up at the gym after dropping the kids off at school. She and I warmed up on the elliptical, lifted weights, and stretched to a cool down.  Looking across the parking lot as we left, I discovered that my favorite frozen yogurt place was not only open at 10:00 now, but also that it carried Firehouse Doughnuts! (See my December 2014 entry "Firehouse and Flatiron".) Of course we justified our sweet stop with, "We just worked out so we're burning the most calories now." Add another tally to my recent doughnut count. Not so infrequent now, I suppose, but the truth is, I savored every bite of that one single doughnut. Again, it's the small things in life...

That same day, I went to the Village of Oak Creek to do some more price-comparison on the same  items I was pricing at Beall's. On the way back into town, I had some time to spare before picking up the kids from school. I decided to satisfy a long-term craving for Javelina Cantina salsa, so I stopped in to place an order. The woman at the cash register stepped behind the partition and emerged seconds later with a white bag containing a cup of salsa. "One dollar," she said, handing me the bag. I looked at her, stunned. "Seriously?" I asked with a smile. "Of course" she replied with a shrug. I wasn't going to argue. I handed her my last Fun Dollar and practically skipped to the car. Yeah, It really is the little things in life...

Clearance Items at Beall's Outlet- $2.00
Doughnut at Zainey's- $2.00
Salsa at Javelina Cantina- $1.00

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00
Happy Spending!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Goes In...

This pay cycle has witnessed a record amount of food and beverage purchases. So far, I have spent every single Fun Dollar on something that goes into my mouth. The six-pack of wine kicked off my pay cycle, and day by day, nibbles and sips have been my arena of spending.

This week, I took Lily grocery shopping while Carrick was at school, and bought a box of a dozen pastries while at the store. I saw my boss eating a turnover from Starbucks the week before, and the sound of the sugary crunch stayed with me all weekend. Feeling a sense of, "whatever", I picked up the $5.00 box of strawberry and cheese flaky yummies, and kept them hidden. Neither Corey nor the kids knew I had them in the house until Friday evening. I think I used them as a crutch to get me through the kids being sick. They were quite effective "pick-me-ups", but I think if I had allowed myself to have an afternoon coca-cola, I would not have bought them (it's sugar, any way you slice it). I won't lie, though, I did enjoy having a pastry with my morning coffee all week long. Like the doughnuts of last fall, having a pastry is a rare treat for me.

Along with the kids being sick, this week found us wearing coats and hats here in Arizona. The temperatures dropped and the wind picked up. So at work, I dropped some Fun Dollars at Starbucks, twice. The first day of work was before we went grocery shopping, and we were out of coffee *gasp*. So I Spent $3.00 on the largest brewed coffee they had. I also bought an afternoon chai latte later in the week (also from Starbucks).

On Friday, I worked in the store (instead of at the studio, making jewelry). I love working at the store, creating jewelry displays, talking to the customers, and hanging out with the woman who holds down the fort full-time. She had to leave in the middle of the work day for an appointment, and I got to experience my first time alone in the store. She asked me before she left if I wanted her to pick up lunch from anywhere in town while she was out. All I wanted was a warm soup from Wildflower Bread Co. and a hot tea. I gave her $6.00 to cover it all, and she handed me back a $1.00. I'm not sure what my total was, but I only gave her $5.00 Fun Dollars for my soup and tea. (She brought me back a chai latte, so it might have been more than the $5.00.) The creamy potato soup warmed me all the way down to my tummy, so yummy! Not to mention I was starting to feel the icky-sick that day, so the soup was welcome and comforting.

I also made an impulse buy this week with my Fun Dollars. I was at Circle K filling up with gas, and one of the locals had a cooler full of warm tamales, freshly made. Normally, I just ignore them when they confront me with a sales pitch. But on that particular evening, I knew we hadn't gone grocery shopping yet, and Carrick was a home sick, so I didn't really feel like making a meal. Instead, I spent $5.00 on  several tamales and took them home to my hungry little ones. (I had made soup earlier that day, but we had been eating it all day, and I just wanted something different.) They ate the tamales so fast I couldn't believe it.  I even had one in my lunch at work the next day.So, we might make more regular runs to the gas station for (incredibly local) tamales.

And lastly, to bookend my week of food and beverage spending, I picked up Chinese food on the way home from work on Friday. Carrick was finally well enough to go to school, but Lily had stayed at home with Corey all day recovering from her fever. He called me at the store at 2:30 frantically hungry. "Can you pick up some food on the way home?" It didn't matter what we had in the fridge, he had been so consumed with his work phone and emails (and Lily) that he had not fed himself almost all day long. I agreed to pick up some take-out after retrieving Carrick from school. I split that order with him and put in $20.00.

So now that our family is all done being sick, the kids can go back to school like normal, I can go to work as scheduled, and we can have a regular routine of eating. It's so hard to keep a sense of normal when there are Kleenexes littering the house, toys are scattered everywhere from the extra hours of play while school is being missed, and nothing is where it should be. But thanks to Fun Dollars, and some help from the hubby, the weird week of sick wasn't as bad as it could have been. Next week, it's almost back to normal... It's Carrick's birthday and the Super Bowl, so we'll see how "normal" things are.

Pastries from Safeway- $5.00
Starbucks coffee and Chai Latte- $8.00
Lunch from Wildflower Bread Co.- $5.00
Take-out from Sczechuan- $20.00
Tamales from "Circle K"- $5.00

Balance this pay cycle- $5.00
Happy Spending!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Compare, Contrast, Consume.

After all that wonderful freedom and Me Time I was just talking about, the universe decided to balance out my life. This weekend (and so far this week) at least one of my children has been at home, sick. Thankfully, Corey can work from home, so he stayed home with Carrick on Tuesday (Monday being a holiday, so there was no school.) But as soon as I got off work, I was on Kleenex Duty. The school even sent him home yesterday, in spite of having no fever and no other symptoms besides a raspy-sounding cough. He has a tendency to cough over dramatically anyway, so he probably sounded more ill than he actually was. At any rate, we are keeping him home one more day to get rid of the cough, because why bother sending him to school if they are just going to turn right around and send him home? To add to the layer of sick we already have, Lily contributed her own fever as of last night. So all my new-found freedom will have to be put on pause while I do the mom thing and snuggle these wee ones.

It will also give me a moment to catch up on my Fun Dollars reporting (sick kids= less time to write). This past Monday began a new pay cycle. I started making a new wish list over Christmas Break, and I am slowly checking things off. One such item that I have been looking forward to spending Fun Dollars on is a six-pack of vino at Safeway. A trend in liquor sales is selling mix-and-match six-packs and offering a discount of some sort. Since I am not buying beer or soda, I am curious about trying various wines, sort of like a home wine tasting.  I know which wines I really like, so I usually just buy the same ones over and over. With this "experiment" I am wanting to branch out and try some new wines that I have been intimidated to try thus far.

My mix included Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, Bogle Chardonnay, Rex-Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon, Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, and Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red (Blend).

We opened the Rex-Goliath first. I bought this one to see if a 4-buck chuck would be worth buying again. At $4.65, if we liked it, we could buy it when we don't want to spend a too much on wine, but still want something to go with dinner. It turned out to be a decent red. I don't think I would buy it very frequently, but if I only have $5.00 Fun Dollars left, it certainly is a "passable" choice. Some cheap wines are exactly, but Rex-Goliath is inexpensive and somewhat tasty.

The next night, we opened up the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. I have had Noblio before, and I knew I liked it, but it's been over a year (I think ) since I have actually tasted a glass. Last week, Corey bought two bottles of Kim Crawford (my favortite Sauvignon Blanc...actually, my favorite white wine period) so I wanted to taste the Nobilo against the Kim Crawford while it was fresh in my mind. As it turns out, the Noblio is a perfectly acceptable substitute which costs $10.00 less than Kim Crawford (regularly priced).

Corey opened up the Robert Mondavi last night, but I haven't tried it yet. I bought this with the intention of trying an inexpensive white to add to our "dinner collection". I know that I already like the Bogle Chardonnay, and the Robert Mondavi is a few dollars cheaper than Bogle, so I wanted to taste them side-by-side as well.

As for the last two red wines, I have had both of the before. I fell in love with the Gnarly Head last week, while Corey was on a spree of spending Fun Dollars on wine. (This also was a prompt to act on the six-bottle discount. He bought several bottles individually last week, and I kept thinking, "If he bought them all at once, he could have saved enough for an extra bottle!") I tried it next to Bogle Old Vine Blend, and prefer the Gnarly Head. Normally, Bogle is my go-to brand for tasty-yet-inexpensive wine, but in this case, the Gnarly Head won, hands down.

I plan on saving The Purple Cowboy for later. A friend of mine brought over a bottle once for a BBQ several months ago and I was blown away. Mostly, I just want to have a bottle for myself saved away for a good steak dinner and wanted to capitalize on the six-dollar discount when I bought it. This was the most expensive bottle in the bunch at $11.00.

All said and done, with my Safeway coupon app and the six-pack discount, I spent $48.00 on 6 bottles of wine. I am enjoying my little wine tasting experiment and, so far, am pleased with the results.

6 bottles of wine at Safeway- $48.00
Balance this pay cycle- $52.00
Happy Spending!