Monthly Archives: May 2013

Free American Girl Movie Tickets

The new American Girl movie “Saige Paints the Sky” is released in July on DVD.  The movie is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Saige loves painting and horses and fights to get art back in her school’s curriculum.

Free tickets to see the new movie in select theaters are available on the American Girl website (click ‘Free Screening’).  It is being screened in major US cities, but not mine, unfortunately.  I foresee an Amazon DVD purchase in my future.

Josefina.. New Mexico, 1824

Josefina… New Mexico, 1824

Are you wondering what Mrs. Healthfulsaver was doing on the American Girl website?  I have an iron clad alibi that will hold up in any frugal court of law!  I do admit that I’ve developed a soft spot for the dolls.  We have Josefina in our home and she is gorgeous.

Has any one else fallen for an ‘American Girl’?

What’s All the Saving For, Anyway?

You may have gathered from my weekly posts on ‘What I Did This Week to Save Money’ that we are very tenacious about trying to end our week with some surplus money to put back into savings, but what are we saving for, anyway?

We have two main financial goals for 2013 in addition to the usual budgeting practices of saving for kid’s college, participating in employer’s retirement program, meeting our charitable obligations, etc.

  1. Increase cash savings by 30% by the end of 2013.  We feel this is imperative.  We purchased a car with cash at the end of summer 2012 and need to replenish our savings.  We like our savings to be comprised of enough money for a major home repair or a car, plus some additional cushion.  This cushion is what keeps us from needing to borrow money.  For more thoughts on “saving like no one else”, see this post.
  2.  Fund each of our Roth IRAs up to the maximum contribution, if possible.  The Roth Individual Retirement Account allows US residents to put after-tax money into investments for retirement, and when you retire, you do not have to pay taxes on the money again (hooray! presumably your investment has grown quite a bit).  The maximum contribution is $ 5500.00 per year, per person, and you can contribute up until income taxes are due.  If we do not fully fund the Roths this year, we are OK with that because we feel the cash savings is our greatest need right now.  The Roth is only one of several ways we are saving for retirement.

So, are you going to sit around all summer saving money?

Summer Fun - The amazing T-Rex "Sue" at the Field Museum, Chicago

Summer Fun – The amazing T-Rex “Sue” at the Field Museum, Chicago

Definitely not!  We planned and began funding a vacation and other summer activities in our budget many months ago.  In terms of our budget, we are now starting to turn our attention to our money needs from August – December.  I will keep you posted monthly on how we are progressing toward our goals!

Menu Plan Monday 5/27

Baby Bok Choy - I don't mind the cold weather!

Baby Bok Choy – We don’t mind the cold weather!

Monday – Memorial Day in the United States.  My kitchen is closed today!

Tuesday – Make your own Taco Salad Night… made fresher with choices of black beans, oven roasted corn kernels, avocado, salsa, crisp Romaine in addition to the usual suspects of cheese and chips.

Wednesday – Spaghetti and home-made garlic bread.  Salad from Tuesday.

Thursday – Cook out!  Bratwurst, beans, and fruit salad. Root beer floats as a treat.

Friday – The Best (and Easiest) Black Bean Soup:  1 can refried black beans, 1 can diced tomatoes with juice, chicken or vegetable stock to thin to desired consistency.  Heat gently.  Add any or all of the following:  frozen corn, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, sour cream on top, etc. Serves 2-3 or increase amounts of black beans accordingly.  Great with some corn bread on the side!

Naughty Peter Rabbit! Willing to jump a fence for baby kale.  Now I know why Mr MacGregor was so mean.

Naughty Peter Rabbit! Willing to jump a fence for baby kale. Now I know why Mr MacGregor was so mean.

If you would like to see some other menu plans for inspiration, head over to  What’s on your menu this week?


What I Did This Week to Save Money – 5/25

From the children's book "Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin"

From the children’s book “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin”

Some weeks just come together so well – you intend to have a “cheap week” and find many money-saving opportunities.  This was just such a week!  We closed out the week by putting 20% of our weekly money back into savings which was great. I do well know that sometimes despite your best saving efforts, Murphy comes calling and you end up having to call a plumber, fix a roof, etc.  My October and November were just like that!

  • We started the week with a bang.  We had scheduled lawnmower maintenance at our home.  By talking with neighbors, I was able to find three households who needed the same service and we each saved $20.00!!  It was great for the small engine service man because he saved gas and was able to maintain the mowers using a factory line efficiency – he did all the spark plugs, then sharpened all the blades, and so on.  You might consider this type of arrangement for snowblowers as well.  It pays to ask if a volume discount is possible, especially in these times when gasoline is so expensive.
  • Kudos to my husband for thinking to check our Marriott hotel rewards.  We don’t travel that often but have had a few (expensive) stays in Washington, DC recently.  We had a free night and will redeem that over the holiday weekend.
  • I had been procrastinating about getting my oil changed, but saw a coupon on the car dealer’s website that looked good.  I checked Quicken and found that the coupon would result in the lowest price I have paid for an oil change in recent years.  Savings = $3.00 – $8.00 over past appointments.  I will aim to get my husband’s car in before this coupon expires.
  • I wrote at the start of the week of my need for a frugal meal plan, or “beans and rice” as Dave Ramsey says.  My husband felt he “ate like a king” this week and we really made use of what we had at home.  Next week’s meal plan will also try to use what we have and use up what we buy.  I would like to put 40% of our weekly money into savings next week.
  • We will be dining out this holiday weekend while having family fun.  We are not sure where we might end up eating, but we did gather some coupons in advance for restaurants we might check out.  Even though our family weekend money is separately budgeted for, it is still our money and if some of it can go back into savings or towards future vacations, we are all for that.  See Ben Franklin above!

How was your week?  Were you able to keep “Murphy” from paying a call to your budget?

Food Waste Friday – Yogurt Rescue!

IMG_3509-privateThis week I made Cooking Light’s banana bread (very good!) which calls for 1/3 cup of plain yogurt.  As I put a half-filled container of yogurt back in the refrigerator, I just knew that the odds were good that I would forget about it and end up throwing it out.

The next morning I had an idea – I could repurpose it into a pretty parfait.  I added apricot marmalade to sweeten the plain yogurt, and layered with 1 kiwi, 2 apricots and a dab of whole berry cherry preserves.  The colors were so pretty and I had just enough fruit for 3 parfaits.

Have you had any proud food rescue moments this week?


Black Belt Savers Only: Locking in Low Prices Using Amazon Subscribe and Save

Mrs. Saver is itching to get back to her blog, so this is Mr. Saver’s last day guest blogging about Amazon’s Subscribe & Save (“S&S”) program.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

To appreciate today’s S&S strategy, you need to understand the anatomy of an S&S order.

  1. When you first order a product through the S&S program, Amazon immediately places an order for the product.
  2. The order is listed as “Shipping Soon” but the shipment doesn’t occur until about five days prior to your monthly scheduled delivery date.
  3. For subsequent future deliveries, Amazon will automatically create an order for the item about 12 days prior to the delivery date.  Like with the initial order, this new order will be in “Shipping Soon” status until about five days prior to the delivery date when the item will ship.

Why is this important?  Because your price for the product locks in when the order (or automatic re-order) is placed.  Since Amazon’s prices fluctuate frequently, you can save money by watching the prices of your S&S items leading up to their shipment.

For example, say you ordered a water filter through S&S for $11.40 on May 23 and your delivery date is June 15.  On June 2, you notice that the item price has dropped to $9.60.  What do you do?

  1. Go to the S&S page and cancel your subscription to the product.
  2. Doing this is supposed to cancel the associated order, but I never trust this so I manually cancel the order too on Amazon’s “Your Orders” page.
  3. Now go and resubscribe to the product, and you will lock it in at the new, lower price.

You can use this strategy prospectively for re-orders as well.  If you see that one of your S&S items has dropped in price, you can lock in that price by canceling and then restarting your S&S subscription to that product.  If the price is exceptionally good, you can even consider increasing the quantity of what will be delivered.  I did this recently when the omega-3 packets I normally buy dropped from $26.50 to $21.00.  Today, those same packets are back near $26.50 in price.

One final caveat to be aware of with this strategy: you cannot lock in the price of a product more than one month prior to the product’s scheduled delivery.

Thanks for sticking with me over the past three days.  I hope you found this topic useful.   Keep on saving!

Using Amazon Subscribe and Save, Part 2

Mr. Saver is here again to talk a little more about Amazon’s Subscribe & Save (“S&S”) program. You can view yesterday’s Intro post on the Subscribe and Save program here.

First off, let me say that you can save money with the S&S program even if you use it in its most basic form, which is to:

  1. order the products that you normally use,
  2. set them on a reasonable recurring delivery schedule, and
  3. then wait for the products to arrive.

However, you can save more money if you give your S&S account a little TLC.

The simplest way to save money with S&S is to try to ensure that you have five or more products being delivered in a single month in order to get a 15% (rather than the standard S&S 5%) discount.  Regardless of the schedule you initially set up when you first ordered your S&S product, you can easily change the next delivery month for the product by going to your S&S page (you can access this by clicking on “Your Subscribe & Save Items” under “Your Account” on the Amazon home page).

The S&S page displays all the products you are currently subscribed to in the program.  To the left of each product is the product’s next delivery date (e.g. “June 15”) and the delivery schedule (e.g. “1 unit every 4 months”).  By clicking on the “Change” button to the right of the delivery schedule, you can change both the delivery month and frequency.

Once you have a little experience with the S&S program, you will find your own best rhythm to the shipments.  For me personally, I have found that bimonthly shipments work best to keep us well-stocked.  Mrs. Saver may occasionally say these bimonthly shipments keep us TOO well stocked, but we agree to differ on this issue.

In tomorrow’s blog post, I will explain how you can lock in your best price using S&S.

How to Save 15% with Amazon Subscribe and Save

"Honey, the Amazon order is here!"

“Honey, the Amazon order is here!”

By Mr. Healthful Saver

It is my pleasure to guest write the Healthful Saver blog today and give Mrs. Saver a day off.  Like Mrs. Saver, I love to save money, but I readily admit that I don’t like to work hard to do so.  One of the easiest ways I have found to save money is Amazon’s Subscribe & Save (“S&S”) program.

If you shop at Amazon at all, you have likely come across items offered in the S&S program.  The program includes household items that one buys routinely throughout the year like vitamins, shampoo, and water filters.

When you purchase your first item through the S&S program (by clicking the “Subscribe” button), you choose how often you want to receive the item (e.g. once a month, once every three, etc.) and which day of the month you want your S&S items to arrive.  You can easily cancel the subscription later or change the frequency so there is no danger in buying something via S&S, even if you are not sure if you will want to order it more than once.

All items ordered via S&S are discounted 5% off normal Amazon prices and come with free shipping.  If you have five or more S&S items arriving in a single month, you instead receive 15% off the normal Amazon prices for all those items.  Amazon will ship all those items to you in one box and they are, in essence, passing the savings along to you.

With the discounts, the prices in the S&S program range from so-so to very, very good.  In general, I find the best deals are on products that I would normally need to buy in a speciality or health food store.

While the S&S program is simple, there are some strategies to help ensure that you get the lowest prices.  I will discuss one of those strategies in tomorrow’s post.

Menu Plan Monday – 5/20

IMG_3505-privateAs I mentioned in my post “What I Did This Week to Save Money“, I am keeping the menu this week focused on using items I already have at home so that our lawnmower and car maintenance appointments don’t hit the weekly budget so hard.  When I put my mind to it, there were a lot of good dinner choices already on hand.

Monday – Sweet and Sour Chicken and Egg & Veg Fried Rice

Tuesday – “Old School” Tacos, corn.  We’re talking hard shell tacos, grated cheese, shredded lettuce – just the way the school cafeteria used to do it up.

Wednesday – Tuna Salad, Deviled Eggs, and Fruit … rescheduled from last week

Thursday – Hot dogs and pea soup

Friday – Eggs, bagels and fruit

If you would like to see some other menu plans for inspiration, head over to  What’s on your menu this week?