Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unclaimed Property

I just HAVE to share this with you!!!

This morning, as my oatmeal apple pancakes were cooking on the griddle, I perused some of my favorite frugal blogs.  One of them shared a link to another gal's blog with a refried beans recipe that I thought looked interesting.  Something else on her blog caught my eye:  Frugality Tip #9: Check for Unclaimed Money Owed You.  I clicked on it, read the information about how unclaimed property exists in all 50 of the United States, then clicked on the safe and legit NAUPA link.  At first, I entered my husband's name for our current state.  Then it occurred to me to enter his name in the LAST state we lived in.  Eureka!  There is $130 in unclaimed cash, due to an overpayment on the truck we purchased waaaaaaaaay back in 1999.  I clicked on the claim number, entered the required information, and printed the claim form.  All I have to do now is make a photo copy of my husband's driver's license, and a document that shows proof he lived at the address appearing in the claim.  Once I get all of that into an envelope, I will mail it off, and wait to receive our $130. 

You never know, you too might have some unclaimed property!  It only takes a few moments of your time to search, and you probably won't have any trouble thinking of ways to spend or save your "found" money.  I'm thinking "DATE NIGHT(S)!" 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lesson Plan Book

I was an elementary public school teacher for eight years in Florida, before my husband's job moved us to Georgia.  One of my favorite requirements of the job was to hand-write my lesson plans, with pencil, in a book chosen and provided by my assistant principal.  I. LOVED. IT.  I am detail-oriented, enthralled with paper, swoon about being organized, and am also extremely visual.  Blocks make me happy.  They are tidy.  I am also quite the "acoustic", which means I desire the "real thing", hands-on, over electronics.  I prefer to play my actual marimba, rather than synthesized on the piano.  Same goes for lesson plans.  My handwriting, on paper, in a book that I can touch, erase, and carry with me, is bliss.  Choosing a vessel to write in is much more exciting than trying to figure out how to create a spread sheet on the computer.  While some folks think that technology is the way to go, writing directly on paper just seems simpler to me.

Now that you have all that background, consider yourself equipped to rejoice with me over my latest frugal find. 

I currently home educate my son.  He will be in 5th grade this year, and while I did create a printable set of lesson pages to help me organize all that I plan to teach, I knew there was probably a more cost-effective way. 

Several weeks ago, while perusing the $1 bins at Target, I noticed lesson plan books.  They contained only enough pages for about 25 weeks of school....yet there are traditionally 36 weeks per year.  I actually plan for 40 weeks of school, so Fridays can be lighter.  I didn't buy anything that day, but have been thinking about those $1 books ever since.   Then it struck me: buy TWO books (duh, they are only $1 each).  Use one book for the first half of the school year, and the other for the second.

But...there are only 3 blocks per page, for a total of 6 blocks when the book is open.  I need LOTS of blocks, because, as I said, I am detail-oriented.  So then I had this idea: copy one page of 3 blocks, and tape it hinge-style on the right, so that when I open all the pages, I have 9 blocks going across!


I am in lesson plan heaven!!! Along with no guilt, since no copyright violations occurred.

If you are a teacher in any capacity, know a teacher, or are visual and enjoy being organized, then I encourage you take advantage of frugal opportunities when they are available.  I am so thankful that even though I passed this one up the first time, there were two books waiting for me when I went back to the store for them!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sam's Club...haul?

How much money can you really save by shopping at "bulk" warehouses, including their annual membership fees? 

I saw an alert on Facebook last week from Money Saving Mom about Sam's Club having an Open House for non-members.  I have not been inside a Sam's Club since 2001, when my husband and I still lived in Florida.  My son and I decided to check out our nearest one this past Saturday.  I brought a pad of paper and a pen, hoping to generate a list of deals good enough to entice me to purchase a membership.  While the store was neat, clean, and organized, I just wasn't feeling it...that "thrifty thrill".  I say this because for our family's grocery needs, I am not absolutely certain that a  $45 membership can make up for the price difference between what Sam's Club offers, and what I can achieve by combining sales and coupons at the grocery store.  Here are a few examples of items we regularly purchase:

Nature's Own bread-  Sam's Club  2/$4.28, $2.24 per loaf
                                   Kroger 2/$3.00, $1.50 per loaf

100 Finish dishwasher tabs-  Sam's Club $13.78
                                               Publix BOGO 2x60 (120) $11.99 - $1.25 coupon = $10.74

90% lean/10% fat ground beef-  Sam's Club $3.68 per pound
                                                    Publix $4.49 per pound (sale)

Uncle Luke's maple syrup, 32 oz-  Sam's Club $13.28
Maple Grove maple syrup, 32 oz-  Publix  $18.29 (every day)

As you can see, it is a better deal for us to purchase the bread and dishwasher tabs when they are on sale at Kroger/Publix.  The beef and maple syrup have much better every day prices at Sam's Club.  Does that make it worth it for us to purchase a $45 membership? Not when you consider the fact that a 32 ounce jug of maple syrup will last us at least one month, usually longer.  We would need to purchase nine jugs of maple syrup each year to break even with the membership cost.   We consume beef only once per month.  Four pounds (the smallest increment Sam's Club sells) will divide into approximately five dinners for this family of three, lasting five months!

There were a few other well-priced items at Sam's Club that I would not mind purchasing regularly.  We enjoy eating a white fish once per week.  Sam's Club sells frozen, wild-caught, Kosher, Alaskan flounder, packaged by Treasures from the Sea.  Each 3 pound bag contains 12 individually wrapped fish portions....for $11.98! That averages out to $1 per person, costing us $3 per meal.  I read the ingredients and country of origin information again to see if I was missing something that would explain the low price.   Everything looked good, so I took advantage of my non-member shopping day, and tossed two bags into my cart.

Another good deal I found was for light olive oil.  I use this frequently throughout the week for baking, pancakes, and spraying on pans and popcorn.  I typically buy a name brand when it is BOGO at Publix.  Sam's Club sells a 3 liter jug for $12.88.  The sign indicated that averages to 12.7 cents per ounce.  I can never get anywhere close to that deal, even with coupons.  One jug went into my cart.

We consume quite a bit of fresh produce throughout the week.  Since I happened to be low on lettuce, I did pick up a 2 pound bag of chopped Romaine for $2.87, which is $1.44 per pound.  That is an absolutely amazing price!  12 ounce bags (3/4 of a pound) will often be on sale at the grocery store for $2.  Sometimes I will find some at Kroger for $1.49, when they are nearing their sell-by date.  Sam's Club's every day price still beats these far and wide. 

The lowest price I have seen on blueberries at the grocery store is $2 for a pint, which averages to about 12 ounces (3/4 of a pound) in weight.  I would need to purchase 4 pints to have 3 pounds, spending $8.  This averages to $2.67 per pound.  Sam's Club had 2 pounds of blueberries for $5.98, which averages to $2.99 per pounds.  Woops, I realize now that is not a great deal.

Despite some good prices, I am still on the fence.  I think that in order for the $45 membership fee to truly be a benefit for us, I would need to shop at Sam's Club more frequently.  I don't see myself heading there on a weekly basis, because I don't think of it as "that kind" of store.  It's not super close to my house, and also not convenient for darting in and out of.  My time is just as valuable as money, and therefore I should exercise thriftiness in both areas.

In an effort to make the most of my time and money spent this past Saturday, here is what I purchased from the Sam's Club Open House for non-members, at member prices:

4.25 pounds 90% lean/10% fat ground beef at $3.68 per pound-  $15.64
3 pounds frozen flounder, divided into 12 portions at $4 per pound- $11.98
3 pounds frozen flounder, divided into 12 portions at $4 per pound- $11.98
3 pounds organic mini baby carrots at $1.33 per pound- $3.98
2 pounds chopped Romaine lettuce at $1.44 per pound- $2.87
2 pounds blueberries (from Oregon) at $2.99 per pound- $5.98
3 liters light olive oil at 12.7 cents per ounce- $12.88

Subtotal of $66.31 + $1.96 (3% tax) = $67.27 total

I will be happy to shop at Sam's Club the next time there is an Open House for non-members, and we can pay member prices.  My parents told me that Costco is their favorite "bulk" warehouse, and that I can get a day pass from Customer Service.  Hmmmm, I wonder what kind of "haul" I can possibly make there?