Monday, October 31, 2011

The Coupon Fairy Visited Publix Today

This morning I went grocery shopping at Publix.  I was feeling a little down as it was raining and I didn't pull as many coupons as I normally do.  With my small amount of coupons and list in hand I set out.

Well, I was very happy when I finished shopping because a coupon fairy had visited Publix.  A coupon fairy is someone that leaves coupons that they are not going to use by the product.  Some fairies even carry tape to attach the coupons to the product.

Imagine my surprise when four products that I had on my list had a coupon taped to them.  Only one coupon on one package, not peelies on all of the packages.  Yep, sure sign that a fairy had been hard at work.

We all can be coupon fairies.  Just leave a coupon that you know will expire before you can use it attached to or on the shelf next to the product.  You will help someone out and make someone's day a little bit brighter.

Thank you coupon fairy!

God bless,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Visit To John C. Campbell Folk School (JCC)

I recently spent one week in October at the JCC taking a class in tatting (lace making).  When I arrived at the school, which is on 400 acres, I was thrilled with the old buildings they had saved and the beautiful, natural surroundings.

Upon checking in I was given a map to my room, which was located at the end of a long gravel driveway in a historic mill.  I shared the room with another lady, Ann, who ended up being the perfect roommate.  The room was simple, but very comfortable.

The Mill Had Four Rooms

My classes were taught by a lovely lady, Marie Roth, that had been coming to JCC for forty years, first as a student, then as a teacher.  She displayed great patience and was a good teacher.  My class of eight had learned the basics of tatting, reading and understanding patterns and how to develop our own projects by the end of the week.

Fiber Arts Building

Each morning started with an optional walk, then morning song.  Imagine starting each day with a half hour concert by excellent bluegrass musicians and singers.  The food at the cafeteria was country cooking and served family style.

Another Classroom and Housing Building

It was a thrill for this Floridian to get to experience Fall.  The air was crisp and the leaves were changing.  I enjoyed walking on the many paths and trails that go throughout the school grounds.

View From One Of The Paths

Since I love American folk art I was excited to discover Mouse Town.  It is located on the side of the wood drying barn.  Apparently, the abundance of field mice inspired the artists at JCC to build a small town for them.  It has now become a custom for each class to add a piece of art to the town.

A Small Section Of The Town With The Mayor On The Bottom Left

Small Items Left For The Mice To Enjoy

I have every intention of attending other classes at JCC.  It is a vacation to refuel the body and feed the soul.  You can order a catalog from their website.

God Bless,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad Coupon Experience At Walmart: Update

The day I had my horrible experience with "the clerk that hates coupons" at my local Walmart, I sent a complaint to the store via the corporate website. I strongly suggest that you formally complain when you encounter rude employees or have a negative shopping experience. Couponers are legitimate customers; the only difference is that the manufacturer is paying the store instead of us.


The assistant manager of the store called me and apologized, then offered me a gift card in the amount of the coupons the clerk refused. I need to go back to the store for canning supplies (Walmart is one of the few stores in my area that has them), so I will accept their offer. Now the store has retained a customer and, hopefully, my future experiences with them will be positive.

God bless,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sell Your House The Frugal Way: Real Estate Agents

Your house is now light, open/uncluttered and meticulously clean/maintained.  It is time to find the real estate agent that can sell your home and guide you through the inspections and closing.

Some people want to sell their home "By Owner", which may work out if you have unlimited spare time and don't mind people calling you day and night.  If you do want to maintain your sanity I suggest that you hire a reputable real estate agent.

The same way you should get three estimates on home repairs, I suggest that you interview at least three agents from three different companies.  These interviews should take place in the home you are selling.

Before starting the interview process you need to do some prep work.  Go to Zillow and look around your neighborhood at comparable homes that have sold.  Don't look at the asking price, instead focus on their actual selling price.  You should find three comparable homes and their sale prices.  Now you have an idea of what your home may sell for and the price you should ask for your home (based on the successful asking prices of homes that have sold).

When you meet with the real estate agents let them walk through your house, then listen to what they have to say.  Then ask them about their specific strategies to sell your house:  their internet presence, open houses, advertisements, etc.  What asking price do they suggest?  What will they do to ensure the safety of your home and possessions while the home is being shown? How and how often will they give you updates?

If the agent suggests an asking price that is much, much more than the selling price of comparable homes in your area, then a red flag has just gone up.  Some unscrupulous agents will lure in a customer by quoting a high price.  After your home has been listed and not sold for a while, they will then suggest that you lower your price.  This is time and effort wasted for you.

After you find an agent that gives you good answers and that you like personally, do some research on their agency.  The local realtor groups should have sales statistics available.  Most agents will bring this information to the interview, especially if their office has high sales stats.

Once you've chosen the agent it's time to sign the paperwork.  Be honest.  Most states have full disclosure laws, so don't try to hide any problems with the property.  Make sure that the contract can be canceled without penalty and that the agent's commission is reasonable for your area.  Don't agree on a home warranty at this time; that can be part of the negotiations with a potential buyer.

There is so much to say that I could write a novel here.  Just proceed cautiously, use common sense and rely on good research.

God bless,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bad Coupon Experience At Walmart

I seldom shop at Walmart because I keep having bad experiences at my local store.  Today was the worst.

I had quite a few coupons today (17) for about 22 items.  Some of them were money makers, which was going to allow me to apply the overage to items I didn't have coupons for.

When I handed my coupons to the check out clerk (there was no one behind me) she literally put her head down on the counter and groaned.  She then proceeded to try to refuse about 50% of the coupons, even though they clearly applied to the merchandise I had.  After some argument and the intervention of a floor manager she finally accepted all but two of my coupons.  The only reason she didn't take those two was because I forgot to show them to the floor manager.

You can read Walmart's coupon policy for yourself.  The clerk insinuated that I was unethical for using coupons that created overages, but you see that the store's policy clearly says that they accept coupons that make the shopper money.

Stores need to educate their employees when it comes to shoppers using coupons.  If I can't feel comfortable using coupons in your store I just won't shop there.  The end.

God bless,

Our Frugal Halloween Costumes

We decided that our Halloween costumes this year needed to be made very cheaply, preferably using items we already had.  I went to my friend's party this weekend as a tree, Dear Husband was "The Dude" and Dear Daughter was a modified Goth (very modified).

DD's Goth outfit consisted of black t-shirt, black leggings, purple skirt and boots.  As I was putting on her makeup she decided that she didn't like it and declined the black lipstick and mascara.  She has never liked dressing up for Halloween and it shows.  She had loads of fun with her friend, so that is all that  matters.

DH was a hippie dude.  This costume consisted of a tie dyed t-shirt, wig leftover from another Halloween, knit cap and sunglasses.  No money was spent on this one!

AAAGGGG!  Turkey Neck!!!
I went to Michaels Crafts and bought two packages of Fall leaves for 99 cents each and one bird for less than $2.  The leaves were basted onto my brown t-shirt at the neck and sleeves.  I also basted them onto a black headband, then clipped on the bird.  I wore brown pants and shoes.  My expenses were less than $5.

Have fun making your own costumes or have a costume swap with friends each year.  Enjoy and save!

God bless,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Costumes vs. My Mennoniteness

In the past few years my family's only participation in Halloween has been to hand out candy at the front door, tell little kids how cute they are and ask big kids if they aren't a little big for trick or treating.  My daughter had a bad scare when she was trick or treating a few years ago (someone answered the door in a way too gruesome and realistic costume), so she has opted to hide out in a back room when I answered the door.

But this year her best friend and friend's family have invited us all to a party and her to a sleepover this weekend.  Yep, a Halloween party...with costumes.  She wants desperately to go, so we have been wracking our brains to develop costumes that use everyday items in a creative way.

Dear daughter wants to be a Goth.  Great...that really makes me happy...not!  We have settled on her being a modified Goth.  I'll let you know how that works out.

I came up with several ideas:  Flo the insurance lady, hippy, mother earth and finally decided to be a sort of tree.

My Costume.  Isn't It Realistic?

Picture this:  Brown Birkies, brown pants, brown shirt, silk leaves from Michael's applied to neck and head, then green eye shadow on eyes.  Finish off my face using a leaf stencil and green eye shadow to paint on a couple of leaves.  I'll send pictures your way after this weekend.

Don't know what my husband is thinking about being.  Maybe he has an old Post Office uniform lying around.  I wonder if my daughter would consider being a tree sprout.

Many Christians don't participate in Halloween at all and that is a personal choice that each person must make.  As for myself, I prefer to avoid frightening, occult, witch, demon, devil images.  Trees are good.  God made trees.  That's my personal choice.

God bless,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sell Your House The Frugal Way: Well Maintained

The third impression you want your home to convey is that it is well maintained.  The outward appearance of good maintenance reassures buyers that there will not be hidden problems requiring repair after they move into the home.

Make all repairs that are needed in your home.  Update faucets, door pulls, door knobs and other DIY fixes.  If necessary, hire a handyman or carpenter to replace damaged wood trim inside and out.  Shampoo carpets or, if they are permanently stained, replace them.

New paint is an absolute necessity.  It is cheap and easy to do yourself.  Remember to use neutral, up to date colors.  Continue the color theme throughout the house.

Each week take a small brush and walk through the house touching up any nicks or smudges on the paint.  It's a small thing, but continues the impression of a fresh, clean paint job.

This can be a touchy subject, but pet smells are a big turnoff to buyers.  We love our pets, but if you own many of them, this may be the time to see if a friend or relative can take some of them.  Buyers must have access to the whole property, so you may want to day board any animals that are aggressive or may try to escape.  Also, consider the stress having strangers in and out of your home may cause your pets.

Now have that trusted friend do a walk through again.  Can they see or smell anything that needs improvement?

The hardest thing about having a house for sale is that you have to maintain that pristine level of clean.  It is almost a full time job itself, but must be done to present your house in the best way possible.

God bless,

Friday, October 7, 2011

Heading To The Folkschool

I have decided to treat myself to a visit to the John C. Campbell Folk School.  I will be taking a week long class on tatting, then spend a couple of days with a dear friend.

I Hope To Learn Tatting

I promise to take plenty of pictures (hopefully, of Fall leaves) to share with you.

God bless,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sell Your House The Frugal Way: Uncluttered

When you are showing your house you want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living there, while giving the impression of roominess.  This is the time to get a storage unit (temporary) to store furniture and accessories that don't fit into your staging.

Look at your rooms and decide which furnishings and accessories are necessary to show how the room can be used.  We are talking about the bare minimum, but not to the point of looking like a jail cell.

Accenting The Fireplace

Remove any personal items:  photos, handmade items that are not made to a professional level and personalized knick knacks.  Collections should be replaced with one or two decorative items.

When arranging your furniture avoid blocking traffic patterns.  Face couches and chairs to accent a positive aspect of the room, such as a fireplace.  Mr. Big Screen TV needs to be hidden or removed.    Even if you don't have an open plan home try to make the rooms appear very open.

Relaxed and Uncluttered

It can be hard when you have children and their assorted stuff.  Have designated spaces where they can store away their toys.  Toy chest, baskets with covers, and drawers under the bed can help hide kiddie clutter.

Think about how a bed and breakfast feels.  That's the impression you want your home to have.  Get tossing!

God bless,