Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gift Card Organizing

Someone asked in the comments last week after I talked about buying discounted gift cards at Dollar General.........
"Cold you do a post about your gift card system?  We're starting to get a lot and I need a good way to organize them!"

So here you go.
I don't know how much of a "system" I have but over on the bookshelf by my desk lives this box.....

It's an old baby wipes box. I keep all my gift cards inside.

First thing is, if it's one of those variable amount cards(which you can pick the value you want put onto it)I write the value I got onto the cardboard display backing card it's attached to.  If that backing is not there(usually means I partially used it but there is $ still left on the card)I write the value of the card on a slip of paper and wrap that around the card with a rubber band(or paper clip).  You can see the "Chili's" card on the right in the photo also has a second card rubber banded to it with a slip of paper around it....that's a partially used card.

If I have multiple of the same brands of cards I also rubber band those together to keep them together.

All the food gift cards are then stacked and rubber banded together.  I also have retail store gift cards(department stores, home improvement stores, grocery stores, etc.)  Each category of stores is banded together and all are tucked into the wipes box.

I also keep a paper inventory of the gift cards--the list on the right in the above photo.  Each brand of card with a tally mark for how many cards I have and then the amount of value on all of each brand of card.

I try to update that list every time I used up a card, well, I update the amount of value for each brand.
Sometimes I forget and will redo the inventory list quarterly or at least semi-annually.
When a new gift card is bought though it is added to the inventory as soon as possible for that the list is somewhat accurate.

I also keep all receipts for each cards purchase.  If for some reason when I go to use a card at a future date and it doesn't work at the business I have proof of purchase when I go back to where it was bought to complain and get it replaced.
Knock on wood, I have never had a problem with a valid gift card not working(well, except for that McDonald's gift card my brother in-law gave College Boy for Xmas when he was little and it wouldn't scan and I had to PAY to have it mailed to corporate and replaced.....we NEVER buy McDonald's cards EVER since then, not that anyone here wants those anymore anyway).

The inventory list and the wad of receipts are also tucked into the gift card box.
I also keep all those store loyalty cards I don't regularly use in that box.
So if I need a gift card I just take out the card I want and tuck it into my purse before leaving the house.

Nothing earth shattering but it works for me.  ;-)


Monday, March 27, 2017

This Week on the Dining Table

The "Feeling Rich" Edition--

This is one of the rings I inherited from my mother.  She had a thing for bling, didn't she?
What do you think?.....Should I wear this out to Rite-Aid and Weis(PMITA)Markets the next time I am running errands?
What about my tiara?  Or would both be too much? ;-)

Moving On....

Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week--

1. Sunday--Leftovers/Fend for Yourself
2. Monday--Breakfast for Dinner
3. Tuesday--Leftovers
4. Wednesday--Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
5. Thursday--Leftovers
6. Friday--Chicken and Mushrooms in Wine, Asparagus, Rice*
7. Saturday--Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Leftovers/Fend for Yourself
2. Monday--Breakfast for Dinner
3. Tuesday--Coq au Vin(sort of), Asparagus, Leftover Taters*
4. Wednesday--Leftovers
5. Thursday--Leftovers
6. Friday--Pizza
7. Saturday--Leftovers

6 meals cooked at home, 4 of them a night of leftovers or Fend For Yourself, and 1 night of eating-out/take-out.
The spaghetti and meatballs didn't happen as we had so much in leftovers.

As for the grocery spending.....1 small trip to Weis, a trip to the Bread Outlet and a stop for just milk brought the food spending last week to $12.70. I used $22 in gift cards so it would have been $34.70 without the gift cards. This brought my March food spending total to $245.84.(Food spending would be $370.84 for the month so far, w/out that gift card).  There are 4 days left in the month.

My savings percentages last week was 84.83%. (Would have been 59.75% without using free gift cards.)

Leftovers going into this week.......1 slice Meatloaf, Corned Beef, Cabbage and Carrots, Irish Stew, 1 helping of Cole Slaw, Brussels Sprouts, Shrimp and Chili.
And a serving bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
We don't seem to have made much of a dent in the leftovers last week though I swear we ate leftovers! lolz

Here is this week's "food plan"....
* Denotes "complicated" meals

1. Sunday--Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad *
2. Monday--Reuben Sandwiches(should finish up the corned beef)
3. Tuesday--Haddock, Cole Slaw, Asparagus
4. Wednesday--Leftovers
5. Thursday--Chicken Parm, leftover cooked Carrots and Cabbage
6. Friday--Leftovers or Pizza in Freezer
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 3 new meals cooked(4 if you count the sandwiches using leftover corned beef), 0 nights of Take-Out/Eating-Out and 3 nights of Leftovers.

What I need to buy for this menu?  More Rye bread unless I can talk the family into having their Reubens on pumpernickel which I bought last week.  I got chicken cutlets last week, meatballs are in the freezer, I have spaghetti and sauce ingredients here already, as well as salad fixings, asparagus, haddock(also bought last week)and part of a head of cabbage and a raw carrot to make cole slaw.
After this week's menu we should be out of fresh produce and will restock on April's dime.

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Weekend...Good, Bad & Ugly

I went out on Thursday looking for those Wendy's gift cards other Dollar Generals in my area.  Found them at one, took a handful up to the register and the cashier couldn't get them to activate. ???
I hit the Bread Outlet while I was out and then grabbed a burger at BK on a gift card and headed home.

On Saturday it was a cold but sunny day so Hubs and I decided to head South of here to use a gift card I won at the Church auction last Fall for a local diner.
Diners in PA are most usually owned/run by Greek descent folks.  The menus are vast, the prices are good and the food in plentiful.
This is one we like Walnut Bottom Diner in Carlisle PA and this one, The American Star Diner in North Wales PA.  Both Greek American run.
Diners offer great deals and food except if you go to a diner it seems in the town we refer here to "Little Havana".  This isn't a negative reference,  It's just that after 9/11 Hispanic NYC dwellers moved here in record numbers to this little PA town.  It's now populated 50% at least by those folks.  You are more likely to see store signs in Spanish than English there or bilingual signage.

Anyway, this diner, both clientele and staff are Hispanic from what I could tell.  The menu was vast, the food plentiful but the prices were a bit higher(probably because being NYC refugees they are use to paying/charging higher prices anyway).
But the food.....sigh.....the food was not what we were expecting.  Not as good and some menu Greek staples which we tried were NOT authentically Greek.  Instead of real Greek olives on Hubs Greek Salad they were canned black olives, like you'd get on a pizza.

So at least we didn't pay full price for the meal as the gift card cost me at the auction less than face value and we paid an additional $9 and change for the check.
Oh well.....you live and learn and remember not to go back there again.

On the way down to this diner we stopped at a Dollar General along the way to check for Wendy's gift cards and they had them.
Another attempt to purchase a stack and this cashier also could not get them to validate. ???  This store I had also tried to buy different discounted gift cards at back last Fall before Christmas and at that time the cashier also couldn't get those gift cards to scan.

So we stopped at another Dollar General right near our diner destination and I tired again to purchase the Wendy's gift cards.

Why on earth do they scan correctly at one Dollar General out of the three I tired to buy these gift cards at?
I think it has something to do with the cashiers not knowing how to ring them up or not.
I now know where to avoid getting gift cards from.
This would have been so much easier if my town's DG carried the Wendy's one.

We've gotten a couple of warm days this past week.  Yesterday it hit the mid 60'sF here.
Here is what is left of our snow pack........

 Mostly the backyard is clear but the deck is still covered.

The front yard gets full sun most of the day so we just have some mid-sized piles left.

I cleared my bookshelf area, filed papers away, reorganized my gift card box and list yesterday.
Hubs finished and filed the taxes electronically yesterday.
We had to do FOUR tax filings for 2016....Federal, PA state, LA state and the local PA taxes.

We got a moderate refund on the Federal(which was our money we were FORCED to loan to the government for 12 months interest free!), we owed $2 on the local PA taxes and then we got pounded in the ass on the PA and the LA state taxes!!

Since the house we own and rented out is in Louisiana we have to declare this income in LA.
We also had to declare this income on our PA taxes for some reason with the caveat that we would get a "credit" to offset the LA income on our PA form.

Well that "credit" only amounted to half of what we paid to LA so basically we got DOUBLE TAXED on half the LA income in PA too!
Taxation is theft and doubly so if you pay it twice!!!

It's no wonder people LIE all the time about their income to the government and I don't blame them.
I am so tired of being made to pay for shit I shouldn't have to and supporting irresponsible people's financial irresponsibility.  And then you get made to feel guilty if you don't want to let the government pick your pocket constantly.

*Putting Libertarian Soapbox away now*

So I am off to make "Sunday gravy" and cook meatballs for Hubs' dinner and mellow myself out.

What are you up to today?

"Taxation is theft"

Saturday, March 25, 2017

New Giveaway Winner

After waiting an inordinately long time for the Giveaway winner to contact me(after posting the info on the blog and TWO emails directly to her supplied email addy) I am selecting a new winner for the February Giveaway.

And the winner is........

Amber Ravis!

77 in Kentucky today..

Please email me privately Amber with your full name and mailing address so I can finally get this box of goodies out to someone. lolz