Happy Leap Day To You

I had a teacher in junior high who took great pleasure out of telling us that we were actually older than him, as he was only twelve. He’s the only person I’ve ever known who had Leap Day as their birthday.

I remember as a kid feeling sorry for anyone born February 29th, as they only got to really celebrate their birthday once every four years. Sure, they may have had parties and cakes and celebrations, but they didn’t have that special birthday day experience that only a child can feel, and only on their actual birthday.

In my house the birthday person ate off of the good china while everyone else used paper plates. Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus were at the behest of the birthday girl. Activities were planned based on what the birthday girl wanted to do. It was fun and special and we always felt blessed. My sister and I have birthdays only twelve days apart, so it made for a fun month.

Now that I’m an adult birthdays don’t revolve around me any longer (how did that happen?). I do still usually make sure I get a special treat of some kind on my birthday, and Husband knows I’d better get a homemade white cake with chocolate frosting (this is your reminder, honey).

And since time seems to speed up so much the older I get, an only-once-every-four-years birthday is looking much more attractive.

Leap Day Deal of the Day February 29, 2008

If your birthday is February 29th, you’re in luck.

Not only are you much younger than everyone else born the same year as you, but Papa John’s will give you a free large 1 topping pizza today, February 29, 2008. To get yours, login or register, select carry out for order type, then enter coupon code LEAPDAY and add to your cart. Make sure to have a valid I.D. when picking up your pizza, your birthday will be verified at that time. Valid 02/29/2008, and only to those born on Leap Day.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Down But Not Out

We’ve got the flu.

It is the least amount of fun I’ve had since I got dehydrated preparing for a colonoscopy.

At least the colonoscopy was over in a day.  And Husband was healthy so he could care for our son.

Get the flu shot next year.  I am.

Fun post, huh?

Deal of the Day February 28, 2008

JC Penney is trying to look fresh to the under 30 set. That’s why they’re calling their current sale the Xtreme Sale.

During the JCPenney Xtreme Sale, you can save $10 on on $50 orders, $15 on $75, and $20 on $100. Apply coupon code XBMSM at checkout, or print the coupon to shop in-store. Other savings include a Spring Sale with up to 50% off select home and apparel, and the Ambrielle Half-Yearly Sale with savings of 40-50% on entire selections of Ambrielle bras, panties and shapewear.  Coupon expires 03/04/2008.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Waking Up Is Hard To Do

Gather Little By Little has invited bloggers to share their moment of financial epiphany. I hope you enjoy it much more than I enjoyed living it.

I’ve never been in serious debt. It’s always scared me waaaaaaaaaay too much.

My parents divorced when I was six, and while my Dad went on to make a very comfortable living my mother…didn’t. My Dad was very good at paying his alimony and child support, but my mother couldn’t hold onto money if it was glued and duct taped to her hands. That’s not unusual when you’re bipolar, as she is.

She gave away literally tens of thousands of dollars over the years, and there were times when our electricity and water were turned off. Eventually she did make a good living, but her debts mounted until she was forced to seek bankruptcy. Today she has about two nickels, and her golden years are lived on Social Security and the love of my sister and me.

Just because I didn’t have debt doesn’t mean I was good with money. I had credit cards because college students are always inundated with offers. I was even pretty responsible with them, never keeping a balance of more than a couple of hundred dollars. I had a car and my first ever loan, and things were okay.

Then I got my first well-paying job, and it was in New York City, no less! I left my car with my Mom with the agreement that she would make the loan payments ( is that you smacking me upside the head?). I worked sixty hour weeks and got lazy about paying my bills. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, I just kept procrastinating paying them.

By the time I quit that job I was exhausted, emotionally shattered (due to a different-yet-related family emotional blow), unemployed and had racked up a large number of late payments. My credit was a mess. My credit card companies no longer wanted me, but I did manage to pay off my car. I went through a year of really rough times, working an icky job and watching my mother sink into the mother of all depressions while fighting my first ever real one myself.

My financial plan during that time and the following couple of years was to simply pay cash for everything. It’s not like I had much of a choice.

Then, about a month before my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up and thought to myself, “Holy s&*t!! I’m about to turn twenty-nine and I have nothing to show for it! Where did my twenties go???”  No boyfriend, no home of my own (I was renting a room), no non-college furniture (papasan, anyone?), and no good credit.

I was still waiting for my real life to happen, but it had been happening without me.

It was time to grow up.

So I did. I got responsible. I opened a secured credit card and paid the balance every month, faithfully. The only time I carried a balance was if I had a major purchase (airline tickets, tires), and that balance needed to be paid within three months or the purchase did not get made.

JC Penney had not abandoned me (then again I think they’d give a credit card to a corpse), and I rewarded them by shopping there and using their card. And paying the balance, faithfully.

Within a year I had improved my credit, gotten several raises, rented my own place, furnished it with new, adult furniture and found a boyfriend. Eventually the secured credit card offered to un-secure itself, and at that point I applied for a standard card and got it.

I’ve not carried a balance on a credit card in over ten years now. My credit score is in the highest range. I own my own home, have a wonderful husband and son (with whom I stay home) and no debt other than my mortgage.

Life is good.

What a Deal! Just Not for YOU, Florida…

I ran across an article titled Publix Penny Products at Pennies to Nickels today (part of the Festival of Frugality) . I was immediately intrigued because Publix is my local grocery store, I already take advantage of many of their coupons and other savings strategies.  If they have some penny products I certainly want to get me some!

Apparently Publix offers these special products on Sundays and Mondays, and if you spend $10 or more you can get the item for a penny. PTN’s article focused on the fact that you don’t usually need the coupon, included in the Sunday newspaper Publix flier, in order to get the deal.

Those of you who are regular readers know that frugality is not just a hobby for me, it’s what feels right. So to miss a special like this, on my home court, is just so very wrong. My first emotion was a little bit like panic. WHAT? Publix has a penny mystery item, and I don’t know about it??????????

Is Hell actually freezing over???

Upon further research, I found out that like double coupons, Publix doesn’t offer the mystery item in Florida. Just…doesn’t.

My near-panic changed to extreme irked-ness.

Why the heck not?

I want to know.

I’ve got my theories about the whole double coupons thing – an obvious conspiracy between Publix and Winn Dixie to keep that savings windfall from Floridians (Oh, no. I’m sounding like Husband now…). I’ve long been unhappy about that.

This new blow to my frugalability has spurred me to action. So, I am going to write an itty bitty e-mail to Publix and see what generic, not-really-addressing-the-question response I’ll get.

I’ll keep you posted.

Deal of the Day February 27, 2008

Here’s a shout out to my oldest nephew. This is one of his favorite stores.

American Eagle cuts 15% off all purchases via coupon code 29118414. It’s a great way to save from this retailer that rarely offers sales. Expires 03/25/2008. They are currently also offering free shipping on total order if you purchase a swimsuit. The free shipping offer ends 03/11/2008.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Costco’s American Express Rebates Get Even Better

I’ve never applied for an American Express card. I refuse, on principle, to pay for the privilege of having a credit card. My agreement to carry a card means the issuer gets to charge the merchant a percentage of my total purchases. They don’t need – and won’t get – $50 a year from me, thankyouverymuch.

Husband, though, had no such principle. He already had a card when we got married, and after I explained my principle to him he agreed that we would cancel that card before renewal.

That isn’t what happened. Instead, American Express teamed up with Costco to offer a no-fee Costco American Express. As long as you were a Costco member you could switch your standard AMEX card over, get your annual AMEX fee waived and get up to 1.5% (it starts at .25% and increases in steps based on total purchases) back. Additionally, you no longer had to pay the card off every month (which is irrelevant to us, as another principle of mine is to never carry a balance). I can’t tell you the interest rate or how it compares to other cards (see never carry a balance principle).

It also gave me an opportunity to use a credit card at Costco, since the only card they accept is AMEX.

Switch the card over we did. We also added me as a user, and believe me when I tell you that mine sees much more action than Husband’s. Since we put everything (including cars) on our credit cards to take advantage of rewards, it’s a nice sum at the end of the year. The rebate is in the form of a check that you must use at Costco, but if you don’t use the entire amount they give you the cash back. Last Christmas’ purchase of Husband’s $4000 Mac gave us a nice bonus this year, which went directly into savings (well, after I bought us some nice steaks).

Today I went to Costco and discovered that now Costco and AMEX have an even better deal. Their TrueEarnings card, previously available only to business members, is now open to all. What’s so great about it? Well, it bumps up the rebate percentages on gas, restaurants and travel.

We’re all trying to save money at the pump. The new TrueEarnings card increases the cash back to 3% back on gas, adding even more value to a very good deal. Today’s Costco gas price was $3.09, a full ten cents cheaper per gallon than the other stations in my neighborhood. That 3% cash back means my true price per gallon will be $3.00. Horrible, but not as horrible as $3.19 …

They are also offering discounts of 3% for restaurant dining and 2% for travel. Another great difference: with the TrueEarnings card you get the maximum rebate from dollar one. That makes a big difference right there.

So, if you have a Costco American Express, or any American Express, call now to get switched over to TrueEarnings. If you don’t already have an American Express, call and get one.

And if you are one of the unlucky ones to not have a Costco within a reasonable driving distance (sorry, PaidTwice!), you might consider moving.

Update 8/29/08:  Check out my post about how you can possibly save even more through the end of October: Costco American Express Card Holders Can Get More Rebate Cash Back!

Deal of the Day February 26, 2008

Can you say Krispy Kreme?

Whether you want to be the most popular person in the office or hoard them for yourself (that would be one heck of a binge), redeem this coupon to BOGO dozen free donuts at Krispy Kreme. You can only use it at a Krispy Kreme store, so plan ahead. Good until March 25, 2008.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Feeling the Link Love, and More Carnival Fun

The Carnivals are truly great and I really enjoy them. Here’s what was published this last week.

The Carnival of Family Life was hosted at ModernSage.com, and included my post When Enough is Enough. I’m still trying to decide what to do about Son’s school, so I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that soon.

I liked Does Your Costco Card Really Save You Money? over at simplenickel. I knew the answer, but it was nice to see someone else validate what I’ve thought was true. I’m certainly never going to sit down and do the math. I also liked He’s On To Me posted at All Rileyed Up, because I have a three year old, too.

I also participated in the Carnival of Money Stories this week. My post I Walked Out of Target Richer Than I Walked In was included. I always learn something reading the blogs in that carnival. If I ever have a problem with my clothes dryer I’m going to try what PaidTwice did to fix it in her post Sometimes the Little Things Can Make A Big Difference . Also check out The Refund We Didn’t Think We’d Get over at Family and Finances. It never hurts to ask, my friends!

The Carnival of Personal Finance Prison Break Edition was hosted by The Financial Blogger. It included my post Great News on PMI from The Accountant’s Daughter. I liked Lessons I Wish I Learned Earlier over at Smart Easy Money and Ask the Readers: Talking About Money? at Million Dollar Journey.

Even better than the carnivals to me, though, is when other bloggers mention me in their round-ups, or write posts inspired by my own.

I want to thank Emily at Remodeling This Life for mentioning my Sunday Drive post in her Friday Roundup – The Healthy Baby Boy Edition. She was so complimentary I nearly blushed. If you haven’t already checked out the renovations to her former crapshack, done really well on a super-tight budget, head on over!

Alison at This Wasn’t In The Plan was also kind enough to mention my article Habit Forming in her Friday Night Link Love. She’s got some terrific recipes and lots of fun stuff to make from scratch over there, so check it out!

Another round up that mentioned me was Sunday Round-up: Close call edition at Funny Money. She was inspired by my post  Why You Should Consider a Personal Liability Umbrella to go out and buy one. That same article inspired Mrs. Micah to create her post What Could You Have Sued Over? (a darkly amusing post). Both blogs are very well written and is full of great tips and amusing experiences and life-lessons.

So thank you. Very much.

That’s it for this week. I forgot to submit to the Carnival of Personal Finance this week, but I did submit to some new weekly carnivals, and some monthly carnivals will be up soon so I’ll be busy next Monday!

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