Monthly Archives: February 2012

Another Vacation Score (or Two)

Besides airfare and lodging for our December vacation to Hawai’i, another big expense we have to factor in is car rental. We will be in Hawai’i for two full weeks, and figured a car for the five of us to tool around in would cost at least $1000 but probably more for those two weeks.

Yesterday I was able to reserve an Enterprise premium 5-passenger car through Costco Travel for only $823 (taxes & fees included) for two weeks! (For 59 cents more we could have had a Mustang convertible, but it only seats four, darn it!) The price for the premium car was less than a mid-size or even an economy car from any company, Costco included. I checked around various other travel sites today and prices for the same car for the same time period run from $886 on the AARP Expedia site (Mr. Losing It is a member) to $2631 for a similar car from Thrifty (??) through Orbitz. The least expensive rental price for any size car other than the Expedia price for the premium car was $925 for an economy car. One other added bonus is that the Enterprise counter is actually located inside the terminal versus having to find and ride a shuttle to some sight away from the airport. (P.S. We don’t have to pay for the rental until we pick up the car in Hawai’i. If I find a better deal between now and then, you better believe I will snap it up and cancel this reservation. But from what I saw of rates last year, this is a pretty good deal).

One other score came our way last week – an invitation for a pre-approved Chase Sapphire Visa rewards card. Now, we do not need or want another credit card, but . . . this card has 0% interest for the first twelve months and you will receive a bonus 25,000 rewards points within two months of your first purchase. Those 25,000 points translates into a check for $250. Seriously – a check for $250 back to us just for joining and using the card once (for anything – we read all the fine print). Plus, you can collect a rewards check beginning with 2,000 points (at $10 for every 1000 points), so guess what we will be using to book our airline tickets?

Now all we need to find are some good, low air fares. We are being very patient though, and have an upper limit of what we’ll pay. Hopefully good things will come to those who wait!

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Filed under Vacations

We Have A Winner!

The winner of the Kiwi knives giveaway is . . . Sluggy of Don’t Read This; It’s Boring! As soon as she sends her address her knives will be on their way! Sluggy’s favorite kitchen tool is an inexpensive mandoline she bought a few years ago, but she will be able to add to her slicing and dicing skills with these knives.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. So many good tips from readers about their favorite frugal kitchen tools were passed along in the comments, which included slow cookers (one of my favorite frugal kitchen tools), wipe boards to keep track of what’s on hand (loved this idea)silicone spatulas (yes!), plastic container lids (very original and frugal), and more. If you have the time, I hope you’ll check out the comments – you will definitely find some fabulous ideas. I know there are a few things I will be looking for or trying out in the future!

For those that didn’t win, I hope you’ll find a source and try out one of these knives. They are very affordable, sharp and versatile – you’ll be hooked once you use it!

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Filed under Miscellaneous

Menu Plan Monday: Just Another Week at Chez Losing It

It’s just another regular week here at Chez Losing It. I’m teaching one morning, will get one of the girls to an appointment on another morning, and do the regular runs, errands and pick-ups, but otherwise it’s going to be a pretty laid-back week. There’s no school today either, so I get to skip a day of planning breakfasts and lunches. This is always the time of year when those duties start to drag on me, and when I start looking forward to summer break, so I especially appreciate the time off.

I ended up not getting to make cottage pie last week, but will be making it this week for sure (probably tonight). Otherwise, everything we’re having is an old favorite. Efforts will be made to clean out space in the refrigerator to make room to defrost a turkey for meals week after next. As for baking, I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp yesterday (which didn’t last long at all), and will be baking some banana-chocolate chip muffins this afternoon for breakfasts this week. I might make some brownies too , but haven’t decided yet.

Don’t forget – today is the last day to enter the giveaway for two Kiwi knives. You can leave a message about your favorite frugal kitchen tool, become a follower of I’m Losing It Here, or blog about the giveaway on your own blog. You can even do all three and get three entries!

This week we’ll be having:

  • Cottage pie; green beans
  • Italian sausage & sauteed pepper and onion panini; sweet potato fries
  • Pepperoni pizza; salad (Sunday)
  • Pasta with pesto; garlic bread; green salad
  • Tuna melts; clam chowder
  • Pork & apple stir fry; steamed rice; cucumber salad
  • Broccoli & tofu in spicy peanut sauce; steamed rice

Lunches will be ham & cheese sandwiches; cup noodles; Italian wedding soup; and honey-barbecue chicken wings. Breakfasts will be banana-chocolate chip muffins; congee; breakfast burritos; and bagels with cream cheese.

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at I’m An Organizing Junkie.

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Sunday Night Chit Chat

Hmmm – I can’t decide if Sunday evening is the start of another week or the end of this one. I wish I had an interesting picture to add, but for now will stick with one of my current book.

This evening I am:

Reading: Acqua Alta by Donna Leon, a murder mystery set in Venice. Italian is scattered throughout and I am surprised by how much I can still remember.

Watching: Nothing this evening. I’ll watch Downton Abbey online tomorrow.

Listening to: Four girls and my husband talking downstairs. There’s no school tomorrow so WenYu has a friend over for a sleepover.

Cooking/Baking: I made a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler a little while ago for our dessert tonight (I took one bite). Mr. Losing It made dinner though – a big, yummy pepperoni pizza!

Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting over my back ache. I didn’t accomplish much of anything else other than finishing two books.

Looking forward to next week: Another pretty calm week. I have only one day of work (tomorrow morning) and one appointment, but that’s it. I’m also excited to find out the winner of my Kiwi knife giveaway!

Thankful for today: That my girls are all good students and so drama-free. With three teens in the house things could be a lot worse, but the girls are kind to each other (for the most part) and kind, respectful and loving with my husband and me. They are also open-minded and tolerant of differences in others, and totally onboard with our family goals. We are so blessed to have these girls in our lives.

Thanks to Carla for hosting!

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Saturday Morning Weigh-In and Some Other Stuff

It has been a good, but not great, week. Although I thankfully lost another pound (169 this morning!), I did something to my back last Tuesday and haven’t been able to move around much, although it was decidedly better yesterday morning (Thursday night I was in so much pain I couldn’t climb the stairs or get into bed without help) and my back feels normal again this morning. Heaven only knows what I did to cause myself so much agony. Because I had to stay immobile for so long though, I was able to get quite a bit of reading done, so I guess that’s one positive to came out it.

In other news:

  • We received our annual Costco refund this past week for $75.52. Combining that amount along with the meals we’ll get from the turkey that’s been in the freezer since last November (as well as other things on hand) means I can cut the next two weeks’ grocery budget in half! The extra $160 will go into our vacation fund.
  • I love using the coupons in my Chinook book! I had breakfast yesterday morning with a friend and we saved the price of one entree thanks to the coupon. We’ve also gotten a free giant pizza, free re-usable shopping bag, free organic baguette, and a whole lot of other goodies using the coupons and still have a ton of them left.
  • The Kiwi knife giveaway ends on Monday – don’t forget to enter to win two new sharp knives for your kitchen. The comments so far from readers about their favorite frugal kitchen tools are well worth the read – I’ve been taking notes!

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Filed under Miscellaneous, Saturday Weigh-In

The One We Were Waiting For

Credit Card #1 has been a thorn in our side for over two years. We have a huge balance at a fairly high interest rate we have been chipping away at, but it’s been slow going. Right before the new credit laws went into effect, the company increased our interest rate by several points even though we’ve never missed a payment (on anything, ever) and always pay more than the minimum payment. This company has also slowly but surely whittled down our credit limit to where it’s always barely over the amount we owe, and we’ve taken a ding on our credit score every time they “re-evaluate” us.

Over the past few months we have received several offers for 0% interest credit cards, but haven’t taken advantage of them because none of the offers were enough to cover the balance on Credit Card #1, and the length of the promotion was never enough that we could pay the entire balance before time ran out and the interest rate jumped right back up, usually to a higher rate than what we currently pay.

That changed yesterday though with an offer from the bank/company that handles our homeowners and car insurance. We were offered 0% interest until September 2013, and a credit line that more than covers the remaining balance on Credit Card #1. Since our goal was to have the balance paid in full by June 2013, this more than works for us. We have been paying nearly (or over) $100 per month in interest on the balance, but now every last cent each month will go to paying down the principle!

I would have like to have added on the student loan and Credit Card #2 balances so we could have just one payment with no interest every month, but we didn’t get enough of a credit line to cover those as well. However, the interest rate on the student loan is only 2.9%, and Credit Card #2 still has a very low promotional rate and will be paid in full by the end of April, so I don’t feel too badly about leaving them alone for now. The orthodontist balance is already interest free and will be paid in full by the end of June so there’s no sense in moving that one either. But we will be done, done, done with the Credit Card #1 bank for good!

Patience does have its rewards!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Kiwi knife giveaway for a chance to win two sharp, versatile kitchen knives.

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Filed under Debt, Debt Elimination

A Pretty Sharp Giveaway!

Last week I wrote about how much I loved my Kiwi mini cleaver (or blunt meat knife) and that it’s my new favorite frugal kitchen too. I use it for everything these days: chopping, slicing, and peeling and after over two months of heavy use it’s still incredibly sharp. This past weekend when I picked up one of these knives for a friend, I also bought one and a Kiwi paring knife (the two knives in the picture) to give away to one of my readers!

There are several ways to enter to win both the blunt meat knife (heavens, I love that name) and the paring knife. You can do one or all three:

  • Leave a comment about your favorite frugal kitchen tool.
  • Become a follower of I’m Losing It Here.
  • Post about the giveaway on your own blog (leave me a message to let me know)

The giveaway is open until midnight next Monday, February 20. A winner will be randomly chosen from all entries on Tuesday morning and your knives shipped as soon as possible, either later Tuesday or on Wednesday. U.S. and Canada entries only.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Good luck!

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Filed under Living a Frugal Life