Thursday, December 1, 2011

Five Ways to Save at Kohl's

Occasionally I shop at Kohl's, and here is where you can save:

  • Check the early-bird specials to see if what you want or need is on sale then.  Go to the store during those hours; otherwise you will have to pay more
  • Occasionally there will be a $10 off coupon on the front of our local paper.  Be sure to save it, and use it before the expiration date
  • Seasonal merchandise is usually offered at big discounts, but they may not have what you want in the size you need or if what you need has matching pants or tops, they may already been sold
  • If you and your spouse have Kohl credit cards, consistently use the same one to purchase items.  When flyers come in the mail, the card not being used will get 30% off while the card being used will get only 20% off
  • If you buy more than $50 worth of merchandise, you will get a $10 off coupon.  These, too, expire, so watch the dates
  • At the cashier, the percentage off is deducted first.  Then the coupons.  You pay a few dollars more that way
  • Pay off your purchases before the end of the billing cycle to avoid finance charges.   If you are late, they charge a hefty fee.  If you pay online, the software will NOT let you pay when the bill is really due if that date is a week or so out.  I pay on the current date, so I do not forget and get a late charge.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garage Sales - Few and Far Between this Time of Year

Met an interesting seller at his barn sale near the railroad tracks in Ft. Lupton over the weekend.  It was getting late, and and he was in the mood to talk.  It was fun listening to him tell about finding the treasures  in his barn and what he had to do to them to get them sale-ready.

We came away with a new appreciation of people who can get things running without a manual and turn an old-onion-and-potato-storage barn into a great second-hand store.

Many times, the bargains are not in what we buy; but who we meet and their stories.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Garage Sales - Few and Far Between

My honey spied a garage sale sign yesterday while we were running errands.  Yipeeeeee.  We just had to go if nothing more than to get out of the car, walk around and talk to the seller about their stuff.

Among the mundane things, I found an American Dictionary of the English Language, Facsimile (copy) First Edition, Noah Webster 1828.  The pages are perfect and look new - which they are, but in an old style.  The book is approximately 8.5 x 11 inches and at least two inches thick.   It was $.50.

I snatched it up as I had just the decoupage project in mind.  Don't want to play my hand just yet as I need to do some testing with the book pages and glue.  You will know soon enough under the craft section, but this is a BIG project that has been bugging me for several years, and I have made several false starts.  It is located at the intersections of functionality, fun and crafting.

I don't want to jinks it so, I will keep it under my hat until I am sure it can work and more importantly that I like the effect.   Of course, I will take before and after shots if you will excuse the junk in the area.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rebate from Xcel

For those who have Xcel as their light and gas company, the October bill was great.  With our deductions we paid $15.06 for gas and electric.   Why so little?

The bulk was in a $40 rebate.  For this yearly rebate,  Xcel can remotely shut off our AC when the electrical demand is too high.  This decision was a no-brainer for us as our house stays pretty cool in the summer without the AC.

Here are some of the reasons why our house stays pretty cool:
  • our trees have grown tall enough to shade the house on the west side
  • our wall and attic insulation is sufficient to keep out most of the summer heat
  • our ceiling fans in the upstairs bedrooms keep the air moving.  We run the one in our bedroom 24/7 in the summertime
  • our three solar-activated attic fans running off thermostats keep the attic cool even though we have a dark-brown metal roof
  • we close our blinds on the east side of the house in the morning and on the west side in the afternoon.  Otherwise they are open
  • we minimize opening the front door in the morning and back door in the afternoon
  • we close and lock all windows.  We lock them so there is no air leakage
  • and at night, we open doors and windows to allow in cool mountain breezes
  • we minimize inside cooking either with the stovetop or oven.  Instead we use small appliances that don't give off much heat or use those small appliances on the back patio.
  • we minimize running various appliances that generate heat.  Our exceptions are the refrigerator and computers
  • we have a lean-to greenhouse on the south side of the house, and we NEVER open that door until dark.  We use an insulated curtain at that sliding-glass door when the temperature hovers around 100.  We use the outside door if we need to go in there.
  • we live on the garden level in the summertime where it is cooler
Our Xcel bill gives us great information about our house.  This past month, the average daily temperature was 60 degrees.  During the same time last year, it was 62"  So this year, it was a little cooler.

This year we used 258 kWh for electricity and 11 therms for gas.  Last year we used 338 kWh and 8 therm for gas.  More electricity but less gas.

To make a comparison, one must look, too, at the number of days in the billing cycle.  Even though Xcel reads the meters automatically, there can be more days in one cycle than in another.

One more thing to watch:  Xcel has higher costs during the summer, and they have a two-tiered system then.   During this June-to-September rate structure, Xcel charges 4.6 cents per kWh and 9.6 cents per kWh over 500 kWh.  It pays to keep your usage under that.

On September 30th the two-tiered rate structure ends, and electrical usage goes back to 4.6 center (or whatever the current rate is) per kWh.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Daylight Savings Time Ends 2 am Sunday for most in USA and Canada

While we are sleeping early Sunday morning, Daylight-Savings Time ends for most of us in the USA and Canada.  Time falls back from 2 am to 1 am.   Daylight-Savings Time resumes March 11, 2012 for another 34-week cycle.

I laugh at the name - sunrise and sunset are still the same.  How can we be saving daylight when we set our clocks forward?  We are just re-arranging it.  "Re-arranging Time" sounds pretty lame.

Changing the time at Our Place is never fun as we have so many different types clocks.  There is:

  • the Atomic Clock that works correctly
    • no problem here
  • the Atomic Clock one must trick
    • it thinks Day-Light Savings time is on the old schedule so it changed last week.  We tricked it by setting it to a different time zone for another week.  So Sunday morning, we will set this clock back to Mountain Standard Time.  We will do a similar procedure in the spring.
  • the clocks that we change
    • the clock on the microwave - easy, peasy 
    • the alarm clock - my Cowboy experiments with this twice a year until he remembers how
  • boatloads of clocks we ignore
    • the stove clock, the coffee pot clock, the DVD-player clock, etc.  We let them be what they want to be - usually flashing PF for power failure.  When we can, we plug these into power strips that we turn off preventing electrical drain for no value
  • clocks in the car
    • we usually forget these until we need them - a couple of weeks after the time change.  Then we go through the discussion of "fall back or fall forward (fall back)."  And we never remember how from season to season (each is different), so it is back to the manual for us.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flu Shots

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says last year's flu vaccine was 60% effective.   Considering the high monetary and personal costs of being sick and the cost of the flu shot, that seems like a good bargain to us.  Flu shots can be FREE with most health insurances and $25 or less without.  The CDC says the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu.  

In addition to the flu shot, good health habits such as covering your cough with the inside of your elbow and washing your hands can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

Antiviral drugs are an important second line of defense.  They must be prescribed by a doctor.

For more information on effectiveness, see the CDC website.  Hit the back arrow to return to this blog.

The CDC estimates that over 200,000 people in the USA will be hospitalized each year for respiratory and heart conditions associated with the flu.  The CDC estimate a range of 3,000 to 49,000 people in the USA die each year from flu-related illnesses.

If these statistics hold true, it is no surprise that health insurance companies want as many as possible over the age of six months to get flu shots.  And when insurance companies save money, we do, too.

  • our premiums are less
  • we don't pay those out-of-pocket deductibles when well
  • we don't lose work time
  • we don't lose leisure time
  • we feel good

Beware - Checking out at Walgreens

I hate Walgreens' checkout process.  So many times, I have gotten home and looked at the cash-register tape and found errors.  And the majority of these errors are coupons that didn't get credited.

The last time we went, we also got flu shots.  One of us didn't get credited for the $3 flu-shot rebate.  Last year, I got my flu shot at Walgreens, but pharmacist didn't tell me it was good ONLY for that day.  As you can see, I take couponing seriously.  Otherwise, I consider it bait and switch.

This year I was ready.  But when I got home, one of the $3-off coupons was in one of the bags; and it hadn't been deducted.  So the next time I went to Walgreens, I took the cash-register tape, the $3-off coupon and talked to the manager.  I knew it would be tough to get cash, so I picked up a couple of cans of the salmon (it was also on coupon) we like and took them to the cash register.  They gladly gave me a $3 credit on the salmon.  And everyone was happy.

Besides not getting credit for coupons, a couple of times, I have noticed while checking out that the  advertised price didn't ring up.  So I politely pointed it out.

It appears from shopping multiple Walgreens that they hire inexperienced checkers and don't give them much training.  When an error occurs, they call the manager.  I encourage this.

And their receipts are confusing, and I have had a manager agree.

Lessons learned:  Buy only a few items.  Buy only sale items.  Watch the prices.  Make sure you have cut or torn out the coupons for items that need them.  Group same items together.  Give the clerk the coupon for that item when she checks out those items.  Make sure you get credit for the coupon.  Give the checker the store or pharmacy coupons at the end.  Make sure they appear as credits on your cash-register tape.

Frankly, I avoid taking anyone with me when I shop there.  Any distraction for me or the checker can really mess things up.

Two things I consistently go to Walgreens for despite their problems:

  • yellow playtex gloves (I use them for gardening or cleaning) when they are on coupon 2 for $1
  • large cans of salmon when they are on coupon for $2.49

Otherwise, it is buyer beware.