Monday, March 23, 2015

Things I got for Free. Haul #1

I thought it would be fun to show the things that I get for free and share how I obtained them. Receiving free things helps me stretch my money further and allows me to put more into savings for other things.

Below is my first haul. Not pictured: bamboo spoon and coffee creamer.

What's pictured?

  • two bags of vegetarian entrees
  • one package of applewood smoked bacon
  • two yogurt cups
  • one bag of organic banana chips
  • one bag of ground coffee
  • one package of tortillas
  • one jar of salsa
  • one container of liquid water enhancer
  • one piece of Easter candy
  • one bag of pasta
  • one package of brownie mix

Estimated value of above items: ~$48.97

How did I get these things for free? It was really easy actually. It was a mixture of a buy one get one free coupon I received in the mail, being a BzzAgent, and loading the free weekly item from Kroger.

What is a BzzAgent? The website is a word of mouth marketing company. I signed up to be a product tester in exchange for writing reviews and talking to people about the things I received for free. They have different campaigns, and they offer them to you depending on the short surveys you take.

What free weekly item from Kroger? I have two local Kroger stores: Fred Meyer and QFC. Every Friday I log in to my QFC account, go to the coupon section and load the free item to my card. Then when I go to the store the cashier scans my QFC or Fred Meyer card (they're connected) and the item's price is automatically deducted to zero.

My local small grocery store chain also does a free weekly item (with a $5 purchase) that I used to take advantage of, but I don't get out that way much anymore. If you haven't been paying attention to the weekly grocery store ads you receive in the mail you should take a look to see if they are offering any free incentives.

It didn't take much effort for me to get the above free things. I hope this post has inspired you to the possibility of free things to help stretch your food budgets further.

What have you received for free lately?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meal Plan for 3/22 - 3/28


Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Flat bread pizza
Dinner: Tacos


Breakfast: Parfait
Lunch: Tacos
Dinner: Leftovers


Breakfast: Parfait
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Burgers


Breakfast: Parfait
Lunch: Sandwich and baked chips
Dinner: Leftovers


Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Bacon, eggs, toast


Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Vegetarian "mandarin chicken" and rice
Dinner: Asian pork and rice


Breakfast: Parfait
Lunch: Sandwich and chips
Dinner: Leftovers

What is your meal plan this week?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Efforts.

I got my toddler's shoe/boot size completely wrong for the rain boots I ordered last week. I'm going to keep the pair I received until he's bigger. I ordered a smaller pair using an Amazon gift card I received from Swagbucks.

I froze the leftover pizza sauce before it went bad. I usually forget to use it up so it gets wasted. Not this time!

My mother in law brought donuts so I had one of those for breakfast on the way to work this morning.

My husband surprised me by making a good and creative dinner using stuff we've had on hand for a long time.

We combined errands yesterday so we were able to "go into town" to get cat food, bird food, squirrel food, groceries, and take the toddler to his checkup. We followed my grocery lists! I picked up a bunch of free items. (future post about the free stuff)

I bought some yogurt at the store I didn't end up liking so I gave it to my brother so it didn't go to waste. (he's like my personal garbage disposal!)

I finally found something my toddler will eat that can be manipulated! Waffles! So I ordered a waffle maker using Amazon gift cards from PerkTV, InstaGC, and Swagbucks. I'm going to find recipes that use fruits and vegetables. I'm pretty excited. I love waffles, and this waffler maker has ceramic plates instead of toxic non-stick teflon.

I also ordered a permanent coffee filter for the coffee maker. My husband thinks the paper ones we got from Costco (one package lasted years!) makes bad coffee so now that we're almost out of paper filters we can try this permanent one out. I purchased on Amazon through Ebates so I was able to save 3%.

I brought leftovers and coffee to work instead of buying.

I mended a rip in my sweater.

I mended a pocket on my brother's jacket.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Efforts.

Below are the ways I have been frugal and/or saved money over the past week. Feel free to comment with your own. I love finding new ways to save (and earn) money.

It's getting to be that time of year that my power bill gets lower because we can open the curtains up to let the sunlight in to warm the house instead of turning on the heater, and we don't have to keep our outside lights on as long.

I deposited an ebates check and Sprint settlement check into savings for a whopping $15! (savings = $15.00)

I borrowed books from the library on melt and pour soap making so I can find some simple recipes to make future Christmas gifts. Once I find what I'm looking for I can start pricing out the best supplies.(savings = $30+)

I used ebates to buy vanilla beans on Ebay for future Christmas gifts. I also used PayPal cash I received from an online writing gig so I spent $0 out of pocket. (savings = $16.33)

My husband and I are trying out a new cell service and phone. So far it looks like we will be switching. (savings = ~$43.65/month)

I brought food and coffee to work.

I didn't use the space heater at night for several nights. For the nights I did I kept it low.

Kept thermostat down day and night.

Used Swagbucks gift card to buy toddler rain boots via ebates for an extra 3% savings. (savings = ~$16.80)

Borrowed mil's angel food cake pan instead of buying one. (savings = $10+)

My mom kindly bought my toddler three pairs of new jeans that he will grow into very soon. (savings = $15+)

Took toddler to a playground for the first time. (savings = Priceless)

Sent some soon-to-expire yogurt and not-so-fresh spinach to brother to get eaten (technically didn't save me money, but it meant the money spent didn't go to waste.)

Tried out a free coffee creamer. I didn't like it (understatement!) so I brought it to work instead of dumping it.

Taught my toddler to hand me his snacks that he doesn't want to eat instead of throwing them on the floor. Crumbs were put outside for the birds to eat.

I printed two coupons for things I actually buy. (savings: $1.50 + $.20 for the $.10 redemption credit via Swagbucks = $1.70 savings)

I raised my 401k contribution to 8%! (my goal was to bring it up from my original 4% by the end of 2015) I also had a free financial advising appointment at work.

What did you do this past week to be frugal?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Efforts.

Over the course of the last seven days here are some small things I did to save money. Big or small, these things add up over time.

I purchased a used copy of The Tightwad Gazette off Ebay using my Ebates account and PayPal cash I earned through a writing gig. I can’t wait to read it and be inspired to save even more.

I brought my meals/snacks and coffee to work (from home) every day.

I kept the house thermostat low and only used the space heater in the bedroom at a lower temperature than usual. Last night I didn't have it on at all.

I ordered a Republic Wireless cell phone (their cheapest phone at $99 plus their $10 per month plan) for my husband and me to try out. If my husband decides to go with this plan we will save about $35 a month. After 3 months this change will have paid for itself. If I decide to go with this plan, it will balance out against my current phone plan after 6 months, with a savings of $10 a month. Total potential savings: $40 a month.

The thought of two unlimited smart phones for $20 a month (plus tax) is amazing.

I ate the free oatmeal I received for breakfast a couple of times. I signed up for BzzAgent a few months ago, and I receive free products in exchange for spreading the word through social media, word of mouth, and reviews.

How did you save money last week?
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