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Archive for May, 2012

Free electricity and jam (well... sorta)

May 23rd, 2012 at 05:01 pm

Its hard to write anything when you're in a (good) groove, but I have two recent items that are now sorta free.

First, I got my latest electricity bill. I went and added that to the prior two bills. Admittedly these are the lowest usage months of the year, but the total was $94.15 for the last 3 months. And then I checked the dividend I got for the last quarter from my stock in the company - $94.35. It was more than my bills for the last three months! Of course Uncle Sugar is taking a 15% skim from my dividend, but still... its nice to see that my dividend "covered" my electricity usage (sorta - you know what I mean).

The past week the mulberry tree at the corner of the property has started to produce quite a bit of fruit. Unfortunately this fruit can't be kept fresh for long (maybe a week or two max). It always bothered me that it mostly went to waste, so I decided to try making jam and canning it. I've made two batches of jam (using that fruit pectin thickener you can buy) so far, making 2.5 quarts of the stuff. It tastes excellent, though I think I will grow tired of it long before I run out. To do this I had to buy jars, lids, sugar, and the thickener. Its costing me about $1 per jar, but if I had the jars it should be half of that. Quite the learning experience, and relatively easy to do. I already gave a jar to a coworker (he's into organic everything, so this is up his alley). The GF is ready to try it this weekend.

And on a financial note, I just put in $300 for more Heinz stock (one of my DRIPs). With no major expenses now my savings / DRIPs / brokerage should start to grow, though with the market going south lately my retirement accounts are sagging badly.

Saving money techniques work for me

May 11th, 2012 at 04:47 pm

Just a few money saving techniques I have used this week that have my costs way down this past month.

The cook top on my stove literally crumbled through last weekend. What I had though was cracking of the enamel on my 14 yr old stove top turned out to be rusting from underneath (booooooo). After some researching online and seeing they don't make the "prescribed" cook top any more, I found another one that the part number was off by one digit and looked like a match. I used my ebay proceeds (from sales of items I found for free at a "take anything you like" house remodel) to get the top and it was delivered in 2 days. It was a perfect match, and now I have a nearly new stove again for little money.

Last month I called a local hospital and asked for my money back (that I should need to do that.... grrrr.... anyway) and I now see it has shown up as a credit card credit. Not as good as a check, but darn close. I guess I paid the bill this way, so that's how I am getting it back. Still... nice to see some money show up.

The local newspaper did its usual increase on my rate after the "special" rate ended, so another call had to be made. At first they were going to give me the new rate after the 8 weeks I paid for expired (paid - as in they automatically took it outta my credit card). Errrmmm... I think not. Either change it now or I'm walking and getting my money back, and they did. So now I am paid until the end of September (about 40% of their normal rate)

All of this, and lots more... and with no mortgage, cool weather (low utils), using gift cards I bought months back, etc.... my expenses for last month were crazy low. Credit card bill was $130, gas & electric was ~$55, food was ~$100, and maybe $40 for yard sale finds. No other outgoing expenses for the month. It'll go up in May with a car insurance payment, but oh well... a month with total expenses under $350, yeah that'll work for me.

Ham Wars Episode 2: The Ham Strikes Back

May 2nd, 2012 at 03:30 pm

Previously in Ham Wars, (which can be read about here - near the bottom) I was able to pick up a great spiral ham for $5, as well as another picked up by my girlfriend. That ham was great for me, feeding my lunches (and some breakfasts and dinners) for at least 2 months. That was a great hit.

In episode 2 today I was at Aldi's picking up some items for a visit by the girlfriend this weekend, and there were the same hams again. I had seen them discounted for the last 2 weeks. Well now they were getting close to the day they needed to sell them, so I guess (maybe today?) they lowered the price to $5. So I decided to pick up one again and enjoy ham for another 2 months. Then things got wild. After waiting in a 15 minute line I got to watch the checker check me out. The ham she had to manually price into the register. I saw her put in a value that wasn't $5 (lots more). As I pointed it out, she said something about $5. I assumed she was saying the full price was put in, and she was putting in a negative of the price (less the $5), so I didn't question it.

After bagging the items I check the receipt, and sure enough I was charged way too much for the ham (she took $5 off instead). Not to take this sitting down, I put the food in the car, and returned to the store to verify the price (I was right), so I went to another checker (who happened to be the manager). At first he tried to tell me the ham was selling for $5/lb (what???) and after I pointed out that was crazy, he said would check it (once he emptied out the line). After waiting a few more minutes he saw I was right.

After all of this I was expecting my overpayment back. Not quite. Instead he gave me the full price I paid back and said "enjoy your ham". OK, the price for the ham now dropped to $0. Oh yeah - "Triple word score" for me Big Grin . (BTW, is it an Aldi's policy to give you the item when incorrect prices are charged?) More free food - I can dig it.