A few small deals at Kroger and Walgreens
May 24, 2008, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Deals, Kroger, Walgreens

In addition to my success at Goodwill this week, I also managed to grab a few deals at Kroger and Walgreens.

Wisk detergent on sale for $3.49 minus $1.50 coupon from paper minus $1.50 electronic coupon= $.49
2 boxes of Tampax $6.10 minus $.50 coupon from paper doubled to $1 minus B1G1F electronic coupon= $2.05 (could have been even better if I had another $.50 coupon)

I got a $5 off a $20 or more purchase coupon emailed to me that was only good on Friday. I’m quickly running out of contact solution, so I figured I’d get some so I could use the $5/$20 coupon (I wasn’t thrilled with anything else on sale/FAR this week).

Twin pack of Walgreens brand contact solution $9.49
Duracell rechargable batteries on sale for $10.99 minus $2 coupon= $8.99
Minus $5/$20
Minus $2 (the cashier rang up my battery coupon twice by accident)
Total= $12.25
I used my gift card, so nothing out of pocket.

Anyone else having a hard time finding deals lately? It’s like a wasteland out there.

Job interview preparation
May 23, 2008, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Careers

Instead of letting myself freak out on my way to my job interview today, I forced myself to focus on preparing for the interview. I reviewed the following questions in my head:

-What are my strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job duties?
-What are some positive and negative things about my current/past jobs?
-Name exceptionally good experiences I’ve had with a customer, coworker, and boss.
-Name exceptionally bad experiences I’ve had with a customer, coworker, and boss.
-Come up with a way to spin the negatives into positives (“I’m not experienced with XYZ, but I’m a very quick learner,” etc).
-Think of at least two or three questions to ask about the job/organization.
-Think of a few key facts about myself I want to bring up during the interview to set myself apart from the other candidates.
-Remember everything you know about the organization.
-Recall your experiences and comfort level with computers, including programs you’re familiar with.

While you do want to make sure you know the above things, make sure you don’t rehearse them to death. You want to sound prepared, not robotic.

Two of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across for interview preparation are:
1. Learn as much as you can about the organization prior to the interview.
Interviewers like to ask the interviewees what they know about their organization in order to weed out candidates who aren’t serious about the job or who aren’t interested in their specific company. If you can impress them with your knowledge of the company, you’re one huge step closer to landing the offer. Even if they don’t wind up asking you questions about the organization, your research will give you a much better idea about whether you really want the job. 

2. Always send a thank you card to your interviewers as soon as you get home.
Make sure you get and remember everyone’s names who interviewed you as you’ll need them to address the thank you card. Even if you don’t think the interview went well, sending a card is a dying courtesy that many people no longer follow. You will create a positive, lasting impression that can help you stay memorable to your interviewers and give you that extra edge over the other candidates. Besides, who doesn’t like a nice, hand written note? No one.

All in all, I think my interview went well today. I was prepared for all of their questions and had a pleasurable report with all of the interviewers. Now the agonizing waiting game begins.

A birthday full of deals
May 22, 2008, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Deals

Sorry for not posting yesterday. As it was my birthday and all, I decided to give myself a little break from writing. Somehow Jake and I both managed to have the day off, so we took advantage of the opportunity to spend the whole day together. The only things on my agenda were to find a pair of black shoes for my job interview tomorrow and to have dinner with my dad at a local Indian restaurant.

Jake treated me to lunch and then we walked down the street to a Goodwill to look for shoes. On the way, we came across a promotional event for Scion in front on a local music store. Jake just happens to own a Scion, so we didn’t need to test drive one of their cars to get in on the offers. We took an eight question survey and both received a $15 gift certificate to the music store, a can of Rockstar (I gave mine to Jake because those things are gross), and a fistful of pens. $30 free bucks for CDs for a minute of our time? Hell yeah!

Once we actually got to the Goodwill, I made a bee line for the shoes. While I was perusing the selection, Jake sat down on a nearby sofa to ease the pain of waiting. As soon as he sat down, he called me away from the shoes. “Look at this sofa. Sit down.” I sat. It was one of the most comfortable sofas I’ve ever sat on. The cover wasn’t ugly and everything was in good shape. We looked at the tag- it was only $100. The metal frame of our futon as been slowly bending back to the point that it can only lay down flat. After listening to a string of “can we get it can we get it can we get it”s, we tried to pick it up to see how heavy it was. It was oddly heavy. We checked under the cushions- it was a sleeper. For $100! Sold! We went in for shoes and left with a sofa.

Once we managed to get ahold of/talk Jake’s brother into helping us haul the sofa home in his truck, we visited two more local thrift stores with no luck before he was able to come over to our part of town. We took a breather once the futon was taken apart and the sofa was carried up the stairs and then stopped by two more Goodwills before dinner. At the second Goodwill (and last thrift store that I could think of), I found my shoes. Or I should say, one of them. They were black, they were cute, they were my size, but I could only find the right shoe. I scoured the racks and couldn’t find its partner. I asked the cashier if there was any hope and she called a manager over to search for the shoe. About 5 minutes later, an employee came up with the complete pair. I about hugged the guy I was so happy. $8 and the shoes were mine.

Free gift certificates; a cheap, cozy sofa; a perfect pair of inexpensive shoes; and a yummy dinner culminated in a very happy and frugal 22nd birthday.

Bakery outlet
May 20, 2008, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Food, Frugality

If you’re trying to cut down on your grocery bills, I highly recommend stopping by a bakery outlet to save a nice chunk of change.

I stumbled across my local Pepperidge Farm outlet/thrift store a few weeks ago when I was getting out of my car at a Rite Aid I frequent and just happened to looked across the street at a strip mall. At the time, I was in a hurry and couldn’t investigate, but I made sure I’d remember it the next time I was out that way.

I decided to stop in after work today since I wanted to pick up a few things at Rite Aid anyway. After visiting the drug store, I walked across the street and entered the store right when a nice old man was finishing up his transaction. There was a wall of bread, a wall of cookies, freezers on the back wall, and little displays with odds and ends in the center. It reminded me of the bakery outlet my mom used to drag me to from time to time when I was younger.

The items on sale at the bakery outlets are usually very close to expiring or have already expired. Usually the more expired an item is, the less expensive it costs. The dates on food (except for obviously perishable products) are quite arbitrary and are really nothing more than a way to protect a company in case anyone gets sick from or is disappointed with their products. You can always refrigerate or freeze food to make it last longer from an outlet if you’re really worried about it expiring.

While I was tempted to buy lots of Goldfish and sweets, I tried to stick to what we needed. I got a loaf of bread, a box of crackers, a package of English muffins, and a package of frozen garlic bread for a total of $7. My guess is that I got these items for at least half price. (Note to self: I need to remember to ask if they accept coupons.)

Since I live in a city, there are other bakery outlets in the area including Entenmann’s and Wonderbread/Hostess. While a combination of the three of these stores will surely offer a good amount of savings, they are a bit of a distance away. In order to really see the savings, I need to make sure that I don’t make the trip just to get a discounted loaf of bread- I need to plan on doing other errands around that area. Oh, and also, make sure I don’t buy tons of unnecessary sweets. 😛

To see if you have any bakery outlets/thrift stores near you, I recommend looking up “Bakeries” in your local yellow pages.

Good news
May 19, 2008, 9:06 pm
Filed under: About me, Careers, Coupons, Library Science, Travel

First, I wanted to mention that I came across another electronic coupon website since I last posted about such programs. Unilever has joined the ranks with MakingLifeBetter ecoupons. Be sure to sign up if you have a participating store near you and enjoy the extra savings!

Second, while stuck in traffic coming home from work today, I checked my voicemail and heard some wonderful news that made my day: one of the local high schools wants to interview me for a full time library assistant position I applied for! Squee! I’m going to call the woman back tomorrow and set up an interview for Friday.

Third, Jake’s dad called him up and offered to pay for us to come up and visit his family next month. We’ve been wanting to go up and see them, but were worried about how we were going to pay for it. Have I mentioned how wonderful Jake’s family is?

Fourth, I’ve received more than I ever thought I would from family and friends for graduation and I’m in the process of transferring it all to savings. I just love watching the balance go higher and higher as the weeks go by.

Fifth, my birthday is on Wednesday.

Cruise control
May 18, 2008, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Frugality

My VW Golf has cruise control, but to be honest with you, I’ve always been a bit wary of using the feature. I get visions of demon cars taking over at the flip of a switch and ramming your engine up to 100 mph while there’s nothing you can do to stop it and you wind up driving off a cliff and dying in an abyss all because you innocently decided to give cruise control a try.

Well, I got over my childish fears and used cruise control on my way to and from work yesterday. My car didn’t take me hostage, but rather seemed quite happy to travel along at a constant speed. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed not having to worry about accelerating or decelerating on the highway and getting to pay attention to the rest of the highway.

I decided to use cruise control on the highway primarily as a way to conserve gas and save money(although watching my speeding never hurts either). I’ll be keeping a special eye on my gas meter to see if there’s any sort of difference. Does anyone have experience using cruise control and noticed how much gas/money you’ve managed to save by using it?

Waging a Living
May 17, 2008, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Movies

I just finished viewing the documentary Waging a Living. The movie follows four members of the working poor over the course of three years. There is very little commentary or judgement, only a few facts that are displayed on the screen throughout the documentary. The film basically just shows what day to day life looks like for people who work their hardest, but just can’t manage to get ahead.

Parts of Waging a Living really rang true for me as I grew up around the poverty line and can remember my mom going to the food bank and accepting charity so that we could get by after my parents got divorced. While my childhood was never as bad as the examples in the film, I got a crystal clear view of what my life could have been like if my parents or I never went to college. 

I enjoyed the fact that the film simply showed what life is like for the working poor and did not jump in with loads of facts and commentary. There were no solutions presented or any sort of judgement passed. I feel that it is easier for each viewer to take away significant meaning from the documentary when it is presented in this manner.

Here are a few facts that were shown during the film that really stood out at me:
-In the year following a divorce, the man’s standard of living rises 10% while the woman’s standard of living drops 27%.
-Since 1979, housing costs have tripled while wages for the bottom 20% of workers remained static.
-78% of low wage workers in service jobs do not have health insurance.

I feel confused after viewing this film because, while I do have a college degree, I am making very little money working my two part time jobs with no benefits (less than some of the people in the film). Am I considered to be a member of the working poor? Since I live with and rely financially on my fiance, I think I escape that labeling.

What can I do, in this failing economy, to get a job that I deserve? Is it even possible? In a nutshell, Waging a Living makes me feel both lucky and pessimistic about my current and future states.