Who Moved My Cheese?

Is a book. A good book from what I've heard. In this instance, I'm talking about the cashiers at Giant Eagle who are scracthing their heads wondering who the hell took all the cheese. Why, that would be me my dear.....

Can you say cheese? Twenty-two times?

You're looking at twenty-two bags of cheese. Yea, you read that right. Now let me explain before you call 911 and get me 51/50. Cheese a few weeks ago (and again this week) is on sale at Giant Eagle for $2.00 a bag. There's a $1.25/2 blinkie machine coupon that makes the cheese $1.38/bag. Anything less than $2.00 is a stock up price for cheese for me. Most of the cheese doesn't expire until November of this year, so I'll eat all of it well before the expiration date. I also wanted to be sure to get enough for my parents. I try to help maintain three households- my own, my parents, and Brown Eyes (the most wonderful man I've ever fallen in love with). So keep that in mind when you see massive quanties of cheese and rethink your friendship with me.

Here are some good deals at GE this week (until Wednesday next week) that I feel totally compelled to tell you about:

Kraft Shredded cheese $2.00 each (there's also a .55/2 coupon in last week's paper that will double to $1.10 off 2.)

Downy fabric softener $3.00 bottle ( .50/1 Q will double to $1.00/1 bottle, 2 bucks isn't bad for fabric softener)

Dawn dish soap $1.00 each (0.25/1 coupon will double to 0.50/1 and the dish soap ends up 0.50 each)

Well, I'd tell you about the Mega sale this week, but I've got to get back to work. (Hint: .55/1 Barilla pasta coupon = Free whole wheat pasta this week and next week).

P. Manolos

Effortless Savings Part I: Tips at Work

One of the biggest pitfalls at work is the money you spent on getting to and from work. Think about it for a second. How much money do you spend per day just to be at work?

I'll use a co-worker and good friend of mine as an example. We have a fully staffed cafeteria at work along with vending machines, and even a coffee shop.  Each day, like clock work, my co-worker does the following transactions (am I weird for knowing all of this)?

Breakfast at the Cafeteria: Approximately $5.00 per day

Lunch at the Cafeteria: Around $7.00 per day

Delicious Latte/Coffee: $3.50 per latte

If you do the math, that's $15.50 per day, $77.50 per week, and $310.00 PER MONTH. Yes, some days are less than others, perhaps skipping a latte or having a less expensive lunch, but man that's got to cause a dent in the old budget.

Let's get down to the basics of just getting to/fro to work: Gas is currently at approximately 3.20/gallon for regular. Let's say for a small car you'll fill up once a week for a 10 gallon tank (super conservative estimate). That's 32.00/week for gas and $128/month. The parking garage pass at work costs $70/month (thus why I park on the street and walk 12 minutes a day for free). So transportation costs, around 198.00 per month. Adding that total to our food budget, that would be approximately $508.00 per month spent for work. Wowza.

Here are some great tips on how to save at work:
  1. Pack your lunch- You already spend massive amounts of money on groceries per month. Why not use some of those groceries for lunch? Pack your leftover dinner and try to pack lunches that are delicious and appealing. If your lunch sucks, you are not going to eat it and you're going to start spending money on lunch again. Try out new recipies the night before work and pack them the next day to enjoy. Lunch doesn't have to be a boring sandwich and a stale cookie. Get creative!
  2. Always have healthy snacks at your desk- You know you like to make a trip to the vending machine. Think about how much that snack costs in the machine vs. buying a box at the grocery store. For example, I have a major weakness for cheetos. One small bag in the vending machine costs me a dollar and it's only good for one sitting. I can snag a much larger bag at the grocery store for around the same price during a sale. Try buying fruits and snacks you can keep at your desk so those mid-day cravings can be satsified at a much lower cost.
  3. Try walking/biking/carpooling to work- The best part about a carpool is that it forces you to be on time. You don't want to hold up your fellow carpoolers, so you're more likely to be prepared to leave the house in a timely manner. Did I mention you could put a dent in parking costs if you work downtown?
  4. Cut down on the lattes and frou frou drinks- Starbucks is a major budget killer. Try to limit your favorite treat to once a week or find ways to make your own latte at home. I've bought a few coffee creamers that taste just as good as the real McCoy and I take them to work with me each day to resist a run to the coffee shop.
  5. Resist the charity drives- Man, this sounds harsh but let me tell you, a day doesn't go by at work until some sort of charity event with food/snacks/casual work day stickers doesn't go buy. If they can't provide you a receipt for your taxes, then try to resist donating. If you know what cause they are working for, go online and do some research on ways you can donate and get a tax ride off. Otherwise, charity should start at home and you'll be in a much better position to help others if you donate your time instead of your wallet.

 "I've got a head for business and a body for sin"- Working Girl, one of my favorite movies.

P. Manolos

That Fired Cashier Story...

Is getting old...

If you use coupon for long enough, you'll here the siren song of the mysterious cashier who was fired for accepting wrong/bad coupons. Yep. Poor old Joe/Bob/Sharon/Karen who accepted one too many "Buy 1 Get 1 Coupons" ended up on the receiving end of an ass kicking straight to the unemployment line.

I grimanced a few nights ago when I shook off my exam blues to go for a quick coupon run. I debated between two Kroger locations- there's one that is not even 2 minutes from my house and another that is about a 6 minute drive from home. The first one is a hell hole. Dirtiest store I've ever been in and all the cashiers are complete dumbasses when it comes to the coupon policy. The second one is a couponer's paradise, full of friendly cashiers, plenty of stock, and did I mention I can use more than 3 at this location?

Well, my lazy ass chose the hell hole and man did I pay for it. I walked in the door and saw Chewbacca manning the self-serve checkout. Man, this chic has screwed me sideways more than a vertically challenged prostitute. (Remember the $2.00 DiGiornio coupon?) Did I mention this place was a hell hole?  After seeing Chewbacca I looked frantically at the checkout lanes to see who else was here. There's usually a pretty friendly guy and a teenager who never give me trouble... but of course the only other cashier in the building was a chubby brunette with a bowl cut and a scowl on her face. Seriously God? During a MEGA sale no less?

So I grab my items, being very careful not to pick up more than the 3 coupon limit. I slowly inch towards the cashier hoping that I won't get screwed for the super cheap tissues and free Almay I picked up at the closeout bin. I'm a makeup fiend. It's sad, but true.

Before I could pull out my wallet, I heard the cashier call over her colleague who began to spew off fake, absolutely unreal coupon rules that she found in her ass earlier in that morning.  "Oh we don't accept internet coupons more than $2.00" or "Oh we can't use that coupon because you only got that for $2.00 and the coupon is $2.50 off of two." Luckily, I had boots on for such an occasion because man was I deep in BS. First off, no where in the coupon policy does it say anything about not accepting internet coupons over $2.00. I would be suspcicious if the item was less than $2.00, but it's a DiGiorno pizza for crying out loud.

Sensing my fusteration, the Bowl Cut turned to her co-worker and said "Remember that one girl who got fired for taking the coupons."

If any of you encounter the "fired cashier" story, politely tell your cashier that it's a good thing you made sure all of your coupons comply with the store and manufacterer policy.  Just don't be like me. I got pissed. Man, if I wasn't taking the bar exam, I would have flown over the register and taken a percent off her bottom line. I told her to take off all the items they wouldn't accept coupons for and I left. Lesson learned. From now on, I'll go to my favorite Kroger on the nice side of town. It takes a little bit longer to get there, but at least I don't have to hear about that fired cashier.

P. Manolos

New Year Resolutions and All that Jazz

Happy New Year !!!

I hope your 2012 celebration was a good one. I absolutely love the holiday season. The decorations, singing, delicious food, and did I mention all the fantastic mark downs on holiday stuff?

Well, per usual I'm putting up my own New Years Resolutions for all of you to see. Holding yourself accountable is one of the keys to success. By publishing this post, all of you will be able to keep me on my toes this year. So here goes..

1. Spend an hour each day doing something I want to do, not what I have to do.
2. Stick to my budget and even make it smaller.- I had this on my list last year and it worked out really well. Let's keep it going in '12!
3. Exercise 4 days a week and eat healthier- I have a specific target in mind, but I'd rather not publish that #.... errr.. moving on..
4. Travel to see all of my out-of-state friends.- D.C., Nebraska, and CA here I come!
5. Accept myself for who I am, not who I wish I could be.- Why is this the toughest goal out of all of them?

So what's on your list for 2012? Let me know in the comment section!

P. Manolos

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