Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dear Company,

Have you ever emailed a company?  I have.

I emailed Charmin yesterday in fact.  Recently every roll of toilet paper we've tried to start has given us problems.  The seal is so strong that it either shreds the first layer of TP or pulls up half the ply on the 2-ply beneath it (leaving you with one round of 3 ply and one round of 1 ply to get it back to where things match up correctly.  It's annoying).

I wanted to let them know about the issues we were having- even Tim had commented on it being a bit of a pain.  In less than 6 hours, I had a response- the technician was going to pass on the comments to her team (maybe she will, maybe she won't) and she was going to send me a coupon for a 12-pack.


This isn't the first time I've gotten really good coupons in response to complaints.  Hershey once (several years ago) sent me a check because I had an allergic reaction to those little Hershey Drop candies.  I emailed them to let them know of the problem and they called me.  In the course of talking, I disclosed that I used a coupon to get the candy for free and really had just contacted them wanting to let them know, since I'm not allergic to very much.  I thought perhaps others had had a similar experience.  A week later, a check in the mail came for the full value of the candy plus the allergy medicine I had to buy (which I never told them what I spent, they just picked a high number).

Tim complained to me that Birds Eye Voila was a bit freezer burnt and he had a few ideas how to improve it, so I passed that on to the company- next thing I know, we receive a coupon for a free product in the mail.

Now before I finish this post, I want to tell you something important.  I am not advocating that you make up complaints to send to companies for free products.  If you have a legitimate concern, please contact the company, otherwise, just email them and beg for coupons (I've never had good luck with this, though some people swear by it).

However- when I do email companies, I follow certain rules.

  • Never swear you are never using their product/service again.  What incentive is there to help out a customer who refuses to ever be a customer again?
  • Don't be rude.  You're not getting the person who made the product, you're getting an office worker.  If someone is rude to me, I know I am less inclined to help and less inclined to take their concerns seriously.
  • Share that you are a loyal customer. In the case of Charmin, I said "We love the Ultra Soft and it's all we use- I tried to switch once to use a coupon and my husband got extremely grumpy with me.  I've never tried that again!" or something similiar.  It establishes loyalty without saying "Hey!  I'm like a super loyal customer, so you better suck up to me."
  • Don't expect anything.  When I contacted Charmin, Birds Eye and Hershey, I did so because I wanted to share ideas and concerns.  I wasn't expecting any kind of reimbursement, free coupons or anything else.  If you don't get something and you are expecting it, you may end up grumpy towards the company.  This way, if they do send you something, HEY isn't that nice? What a great surprise! It improves your whole day.
  • Don't be trivial.  Ok, I know, it being hard to start a roll isn't life shattering- but the product is toilet paper.  It should be easy to start, easy to unroll and comfortable to use.  I wouldn't email if the seal was stamped a little sideways or if the packaging had a slight printing error on it.   I wouldn't email a candy company if there was a crushed M&M in my package of M&Ms- I would email if I bought peanut M&Ms and there were no peanuts! 
  • Describe the problem fully.  This cuts down on how much they have to talk to you and how much you have to talk to them.  Win-Win.
  • Include your information.  I often don't give my phone number unless is required, but I do put in my address.  This way, should they want to send me a coupon, they don't have to ask for my information and they can do it right then, as they mood strikes them.
I have contacted companies just to tell them I appreciate the good job they do and the quality of products they put out.   I recently emailed Coke Rewards to give them some support during a mess around the Holiday Season- people were being very rude, swearing to never use their products again, etc. because they didn't get to renew their points for as many free coupons as they wanted (thereby cutting down the available coupons for everyone else.  IE, they didn't get if I got one, as long as they got 15.)  I expected nothing back and got nothing back- I just wanted to encourage Coke not to pull their program because of the negative people blasting them on Facebook.

So there you have it!  How to email companies if there is a problem with your product or service- and encouragement to email them to give out a little praise if everything is great.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Nervous

We have the absolutely incredible opportunity to go to Israel for eight days (not including travel).  So far I've been great- no nerves, just that vague thrill of excitement that comes when a trip is far away.

Now I'm getting freaked out- in that super excited but oh-no-what-am-I-forgetting? 

We ended up spending $35 today (ouch) on a travel alarm clock and a voltage converter for charging our appliances.  While we thought we could get away without the voltage converter, we ultimately decided it wasn't worth risking the more expensive Kindle Fire to save $25.

This does mean I can bring my cell phone.  We're planning on going to check on long distance texting costs- I realize that International calls will be entirely too expensive, but hopefully we can send a few "We're here and not dead" texts to family members without going broke.

I can't wait to go, but it's going to be so different from anything I've ever experienced- my first time out of country! Eeek!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Debt Proof Your Christmas- (12 Months of Christmas Post)

No, this isn't an accident.  I am really posting about Christmas in January.  GASP! I'm doing a blog series this year that I have entitled the 12 months of Christmas.  Each month there will be a post about getting ready for Christmas, saving for gifts, or whatever! :).

I'm reading a book called "Debt-Proff Your Christmas", by Mary Hunt.  As something that made me giggle, I bought this book at 90% off just recently, as it was considered a "Christmas" item.

The book centers around the Christmas rush and how we get caught up in the frustration of the season, often spending way more than we can afford in order for our families to be happy (or so we think), when a simpler approach really is the best way.  It's chock full of great homemade ideas, new ways to do gift exchanges and helpful advice.

I sat down last night and made a file called Gifts.  In it, I wrote the names of my Mom, Mother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law and Grandmother.   Then I broke them down farther by Christmas, Birthday, Mother's Day, etc.  Any occasion I buy for, I wrote down.  Then I wrote down what I planned to give to each of them on each date.  Some might be more vague than others- for instance one might say "bath gift basket" while the other might say "K-Cup spinning tower from Kohls".

This is going to go a long way to help me this year.  No more buying something, then finding something better. No more hustle and bustle around crowded malls because I thought I had something that I didn't have.   I have 11 months (to the day) to get ready for Christmas, there is no reason to put it off until my only option is to choose something too expensive and charge it.

If you find the New Year brings you lots of debt, I highly recommend you check out this book.  If you live locally, I'll even let you borrow my copy.

Stay Tuned for another blog post that is going to be entitled "It's Better Than Good-Enough, It's Great."


Thursday, January 24, 2013

HOT Amazon $5 credit Promotion!

Go here
and answer the question (sharing your answer to facebook) and get a $5 Amazon promotional credit, good through June 30th!

It doesn't get easier than this! My answer was "nifty".

YAY Free money!  Expired already, darn it!  Congratulations to everyone who got it.

While you are there, you can check out the free Mumford and Sons song "I Will Wait"


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I'm a voracious reader- I always have been.  Sometimes it is almost like I am afflicted with the desire to read.  In the past 5 days, I've devoured 6 books.

So what- 6 books in 3 days? Geez.

If I enjoy a book, I will read it over and over again- sometimes back to back.  I've had to replace several worn out copies of my favorite paperbacks thanks to reading them so often- thank God for the Kindle!

Sometimes when the mood to read strikes me, it becomes an obsession.  Even as I type this, as I sit at work, all I can think of is the plot in one of the stories I'm reading.  Thankfully I was able to leave it this morning on a good note- if they were in danger, if there was a problem, it would have been almost impossible. 

I almost rush through the books, in an eagerness to find out what happens, to predict the outcome.  I never flip to the back and read the ending first- that's cheating.  I will admit I often rush the journey to get to the destination.  Maybe that's why I reread novels so many times?

Tim, on the other head, reads a book once and he's done with it.  Occasionally, years later, he may pick up a book and read it again but that is a rarity.

At least I can say that rereading books is frugal- after all, I don't have to buy new ones if I'm content to read the ones I already have!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Bath & Body Works

Click on the Bath & Body Works facebook page to claim the newest offer- Free 1 of 3 NEW America's Sweethearts Signature Fragrances.  Choice of Honey Sweetheart, Daisy Dreamgirl or Berry Flirt. Limit 1 per customer. No purchase necessary.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Canning French Onion Soup

We enjoy French Onion Soup, but it's such a pain to make fresh- so many dishes to mess up, etc.  So I pressure canned some!

You'll need:
Canning jars
Pressure Canner (you can not process this using a water bath)
8 cups of beef broth
8 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of white cooking wine (optional)
4 tbsp of garlic
7 medium onions
worcestershire sauce (to taste, I used around 20 quick shakes)

Slice your 7 medium onions, then half them.  I've found that a mandoline slicer makes this step incredibly easy.  It was an onerous task the first time I made this soup.  Set your onions aside.

Mix your beef broth, chicken broth, white wine, garlic and worcestershire sauce in a big pot.  You may have to do it in two pots unless you have a large stock pot. If you do it in batches, just split the ingredients in half.  Stir well, then heat up over a burner until it starts to boil.

While your liquids are heating up, caramelize your onions in a pan with 2 tbsp of butter.  This is another step I had to do in small batches.

When your onions are ready, split them in to your canning jars.  I made 4 quart jars and 3 small pints of soup based on this recipe.  (Please note, on the original recipe I tried, I found that the lady called for 12 cups of broth only and it supposedly filled up 5 quart jars.  I did not find this to be the case and increased the amount of liquid to 16 cups of broth and added the 2 cups of wine).

Pour your broth over top of your onions, leaving about an inch of headspace.

Add your tops and rings, then place in your pressure cooker.  You'll want to process them for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

When you are ready to eat your soup, just pop open a jar, add some crusty french bread and some gruyere or mozarella cheese and voila! Delicious.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A little bit of organization-

 So, I've been working on being more organized and I decided to tackle our pantry.  I didn't get a before picture, but suffice it to say it was a disaster.

In fact, I'm pretty much only posting these pictures because I know as soon as a few days go by, this will be absolutely destroyed.   You can see a bit of my stockpiling- mac & cheese, pasta, homemade canned salsa, though most stockpiled items are in a separate closet.

It feels so nice to have everything organized.  I can tell what we have, what we need and I tossed out all the old stuff. I even found an old, empty BOX in there.  Nothing in there- just taking up space.

Anyway, this is just a little brag post.  Buwahaha.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Promises to Myself

I said I would stop making New Years Resolutions because they always get broken- often in the very first week.

I couldn't stop myself from having certain goals, making certain promises to myself.

To start off with- I'm promising myself that I will keep up with housework more.  We both hate to do it, so often dishes will pile up in the sink.  We finally clean out the dishwasher and load it- and there are enough dishes left over for a second load

I've been doing well so far.  Yesterday I even managed to can some French Onion Soup, and while I was waiting for the pressure canner to heat up, I washed up what I had to, then unloaded the clean dishes and put the dirty ones in to the dishwasher.  Ultimately, only one pan was left in the sink!   

It's my hope that taking time to clean up a little each day will help prevent pile ups.  The hardest part is going to be getting Tim to help.

I'm promising myself that I'll worry less.  That's the harder promise.  I run off worry.  I live off of stress.  Stress and swedish fish flavored candy canes.   I find myself even as I type this worrying about an even that may or may not happen six and a half months in the future.  Oh yes, I am that much of an over-achiever in the worry department.  I imagine if I were a dog, I'd be one of those that twitches and shakes all the time for no apparent reason.   I'm lookin' at you chihuahuas.

I'm learning to manage my stress a bit. Rather than looking around and seeing something that may cause my trouble six months from now, rather than worrying about events that might not even come to pass, I'm working on letting it go- letting it not be a factor in my life until I know if it will even come to pass.  I'm working on enjoying life and being content to know we have enough, not trying to squirrel away every single penny I can eke out from our checks, stressing that this month I saved a dime less than last month.

This isn't to say I won't be couponing- I very much enjoy that.  I enjoy trying to save money in general.  I just can't let the need to have more money cause me extreme stress.

I'm promising myself that I will finish my projects.  Whether it's the quarter crocheted wash cloth sitting in my bag, or the book, I will finish what I start this year!  I will be the success I want to be, simply by not standing in my own way. 

So there we have it- my promises to myself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Save Without Realizing It-

I'm not sure who to credit this to- I found it floating around Facebook, since I was too lazy to make my own.

This is a chart.  It's a chart about how to trick yourself in to saving money without even realizing it.

Go get a calendar. 

Now, there are two ways to go about this.  You can number every single Sunday stating with the number "1" and going down until you get to "52", remembering that this is the number of dollars you need to set aside that week, or you can do it backwards, starting with "52" and going down to "1", so that you aren't holding back $50+ dollars so close to Christmas.  It's up to you.

Right now we are in the first week.  Go set aside $1- or $52, depending on which option you prefer.  Either way, think of the savings possibilities. Maybe at the end of the year you take that $1378 and you pay off some debt, or you take a vacation.  Maybe you put it in your savings account and enjoy knowing you have it there.

Whatever you decide to do- now is the time.  You can save $1378.00 painlessly, without really even trying. 

Good Luck,


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hand Soap Challenge- Completed!

I started out 2012 issuing a "soap challenge" to myself.  The goal was to spend only $3.88 on handsoap the entire year- the cost of one large Equate refill jug (64oz). 

If you follow the link above, it explains how I make my own foaming handsoap, etc.

So now is the time- it has been slightly over a year since I started the challenge.  How did I do?

 This is what success looks like!  No, I didn't buy new refills, no we didn't use other soap/dispensers.  Everything came straight out of this.  I spent $3.88 last year and the soap not only lasted me an entire year, it looks like it will happily last another several!

You can sort of see in this picture that I used too much hand soap (see the orange soap settled at the bottom?).  I will probably have to further dilute the soap that goes in to the pump until I can get enough room to put more water in this bottle.

So there you have it! If you are spending more than a dollar on hand soap in a year, you're spending too much!  My homemade foaming soap works just as well- it gets your hands clean at a fraction of the price.  Why pay $2.00 a dispenser for a product that is primarily water?


Monday, January 7, 2013


Sometimes I feel like I keep too many irons in the fire.   There is a case for why I feel this way-  currently I am:

  • Learning to crochet more complicated patterns
  • Working on the book
  • Working two part time jobs
  • tending to 3 dogs, 3 cats, 9 chickens and a barn full of show rabbits
  • Starting a new business (I'm a Thirty-One Consultant!)
  • Couponing for our daily needs
  • Maintaining two blogs
And that isn't including the regular business of trying to clean the house,  cooking dinner, maintaining some semblance of a social life, rabbit shows, etc. as well as finding time to enjoy reading and my other hobbies.

I'm also noting that it has been dark, dreary and cold the past few days here- all recipes for seasonal depression to rear it's ugly head.  Feeling overwhelmed is generally an early warning sign for me, as is obsessing about money. In this case, I find myself beginning to obsess about thirty-one product sales.  Always gotta be obsessing about something!

I am thinking I need to sit down and prioritize things in my life right now, figure out how I can enjoy all my hobbies and balance those with work.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Free Sample of Pedigree Dentastix

The new year is off to a great start with freebies!

Click here to get a free sample of Pedigree Dentastix for your pups!


Free Bag of Cat Treats

Go like Petsmart's Facebook page here and you will find a printable coupon good for one free bag of Catswell Cat Treats!

If you don't want them, consider donating them to a shelter or a friend with cats!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free Papa Johns Pizza

Man, these pizza deals are flying fast and furious from Papa Johns!

You can get a FREE Papa John’s pizza with an online order of $12 or more.

Make sure your total is over $12 (not hard to do!)
Use the code: PAPASGIFT to add 25 points to your account. This is enough to get you a free pizza!

To use your points, use the code: 25PAPA when signed in to your account. Make sure you order before 1/7 and use your points before 1/20.

To recap:  PAPASGIFT gets you 25 points.  To redeem them, use 25PAPA.