Sunday, November 30, 2008


Kmart is having a sale this week where they will double all your coupons up to and including $2. So if you have a coupon for $2 off something, you'll actually save $4. I don't live near a Kmart, but I was at my MIL's today and she's only a few blocks away from one. So off I went this morning with my big binder of coupons. I managed to get some really good deals. I was tickled. I got lots of stuff that was free after the coupon, and several things that were very good deals on stuff we use every single day, like diapers, toilet paper, and ziploc bags for Scott's lunch. Of course, it took forever because I wasn't nearly as organized as I should have been. But I saved over a hundred dollars and filled up my trunk with stuff that I actually wanted and needed. Very, very cool.

OK, I dug out my receipts and here's what I got.

1 Toy for Zoe (Was $10, I got it free)
2 Max Factor Lipgloss (Free because it was mismarked on the shelf)
1 Tweezers (Free)
1 Emery Boards (Free)
3 First Aid tapes (Free)
2 First Aid gauze pads (Free)
1 First Aid rolled gauze (Free)
1 Large Size Pert Shampoo (Free)
1 Cascade Rinse Aid (Free)
1 Mr. Clean spray (Free)
3 Revlon Nail Polishes (.19 each)
2 Wet Ones tubs (.29 each)
6 Hershy bars (.33 each)
2 Sun Maid Raisins 6-packs (.79 each)
3 Reynolds Aluminum Foil (.99 each)
2 Novelty pens for Caly (1.00 each)
2 Sets of Ziploc Containers (1.00 each)
10 cans ravioli (1.09 each -- not great but Zaven's fav snack)
2 Boxes of Ziploc Sandwich Bags (1.19 each)
1 Magic Eraser 2-pack (1.29)
3 Boxes of Tampax (2.16 each)
1 Mr. Cleam liquid (2.29, but came with the free spray)
1 Cascade 16 ct. Dishwasher pack (2.99)
2 Cottonelle mega-roll TP 6-pack (2.99 each)
1 Wisk Detergent (3.49)
2 Scott double-roll TP 6-packs (3.99 each)
4 Pullups Overnights (7.74 each)
2 large boxes of Baby wipes (8.99 each, but that's how I got the free toy)

$118.47 out of pocket, but $63 of it was diapers, wipes, and toilet paper and $9.50 was tax. So, if we can just manage to stop having bodily functions and paying taxes, that would cut our bills by 60%.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Needing to pee.

Zoe came running into the kitchen the other day shouting, "I needa go potty! I needa go potty!" She had to run right PAST the bathroom to get to the kitchen, but that's what she did. She ran in, hands on her crotch, knees together, bouncing slightly in her urgency, and shouted, "I needa go potty! I NEED TO PEE!"

I said, "Well, you better hurry up and go to the bathroom!"

To which she replied, "What have I got acrosst my butt?" (And yes, across ended with a T.)

"I don't know honey." I couldn't see a thing on her butt.

"What Have I Got... ACROSST... My Butt?"

"I don't know. I don't see anything across your butt."

"WHAT... HAVE I GOT... ACROSST... MY BUTT?" as she bounces with ever greater urgency.

All of the sudden it hit me. "Your hands?"

"YES!!!! Cause I needa PEE!" And off she went to the bathroom.

Apparently it was more important to tell me how badly she needed to pee than it was to actually go pee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dish Network

Well, if you've ever dealt with Dish Network, you probably already know that they have agents specially trained to drive you crazy. My friend Tara always ends up on the phone with someone who barely speaks English. But I hardly ever have that happen when I call them. However, they still manage to get everything wrong the first four or five times. But for once, I think I got the better end of the deal.

I suppose I should start with some back story. I am a long standing client of Dish Network. And to be perfectly honest, as long as the equipment is working, I'm very, very happy with them. They're less expensive than the competition (at least around here), have all the channels I want, and don't randomly screw up the bill like my water company used to do. Plus, I absolutely love having a DVR. With four kids, I don't get to watch a show without interuption. Pausing live TV saves my sanity. But every now and then there's a problem with the equipment. And then you have to deal with customer service...

So, about a two months ago my DVR began to randomly erase my recordings. It didn't happen all in one shot, but over the course of a week. And the first time it happened, I called to report it. They gave me the run around but didn't do anything. Then it happened again, and I called again, and again they did nothing. So when it happened the third time and ate all but 2 hours of recordings I called and raised hell. I told them there wasn't any point in having a DVR and paying extra for DVR service each month AND extra for a warranty on the machine each month if the DVR erased my recordings and they didn't honor the warranty. I asked to speak to supervisors, and then asked to speak to the supervisor's supervisor until finally they agreed to replace the unit. And then they sent me a "new" unit that was used. I was annoyed but it seemed to work and only had one glitch upon installation. I called about the glitch but since it seemed to have straightened itself out I didn't demand any action on their part.

Fast forward to last month. The DVR has been steadily having more and more problems when suddenly it dies. No reception, no recordings, everything gone. I call and they tell me they'll have to send someone out to look and make sure that all the connections are still working and that the outdoor dish doesn't need adjusting. I tell them NO, they don't need to send someone because there wasn't a storm or a falling tree branch that damaged the dish and cut off the signal. I was sitting here watching it on a perfectly sunny day when it happened. And besides, even if that had been the case, it still erased ALL my recordings. Lost of signal from the satelllite didn't explain that! I told them that I wasn't willing to pay for a service call and asked to speak to the supervisor. When he got on the line he told me that he would waive the fee for the service call and still send someone out. I told him to send someone with a brand new receiver.

Two days later, the service guy shows up, tests the unit, and tells us it's shot and we need to replace it. He didn't bring a replacement with him. I told him that I wasn't going to pay for him to come on a different service call because I told them to send him with a new unit. So he says that since he didn't bring all the equipment he needed, he wouldn't charge for the second service call but he would be back tomorrow with a new unit. Knowing that the unit that just quit on me was supposed to be new but came used, I asked him if it was going to be a new unit, or a refurbished one. He said it would be used. I told him NO, I don't want used, and I pay extra each month to have a warranty that will replace defective units. He said they used to replace them with new units, but that they quit making that particular model. If I wanted a new unit, I'd need to upgrade and the warantee wouldn't cover it, plus there's be installation fees and an extra fee each month because the newer models ran on two satellite feeds so you could record two different channels at the same time. I told him to bring the new unit with him just in case I decided to go with it, but I was calling customer service to see what I could do about having to pay for all that.

So I called them up and explained it all and said I wanted a new unit or I was switching companies. My contract was long over and I didn't want to mess with used electronics. (I happen to know how electronics are repaired. They turn them on and fix anything that is malfunctioning. But if the problem only comes up when the unit is left running hours on end, they'll never find it. So I don't mess with used electronics unless I know who fixed it.) When I mentioned going to another company, the CS guy said that if I signed a new contract, they would give me the new unit for free and all I would have to pay is installation. I said what about the extra cost each month. He said that if I hooked up a phone line to it so they could update it regularly, he could fix it to waive the monthly fee. So the only extra cost I would have would be the installation. I told him that the repair guy was coming any way, and was installing a new unit anyway. I didn't see how they could charge me $50 extra for picking which box he hooked up. He said that he couldn't tell the guy not to charge me, but if I could talk him out of the charge it was OK with them. I double checked... next month's bill is going to be the exact same as this month's? Yes, except if the repair guy charges you to install. OK. I'll do it.

So the next day the repair guy comes and hooks up the new unit. I ask him if he's going to charge me the $50 install fee and he says no, cause he was supposed to bring all the equipment with him the first time so he's not going to charge me for this visit. I'm pretty happy with that... and the new DVR is sweet! Records two shows at once and shows the caller ID on the TV when someone calls me.

But a few weeks go by and I get my bill. And it's for $180 more than it normally is. I call them up and explain all about the deal I worked out. I even wrote down the names of the people I spoke to and their supervisor's names. But I didn't need to because there are notes in my file that say the same thing I told them. So the girl I'm speaking to is very confused and says she doesn't understand why I was charged. She puts in some more credits for me and says that this should take care of it. I'm on autopay so she's not sure if the credits will be applied before it's deducted. They weren't, but I'm not freaked out yet. As long as the next bill is $180 LESS than normal, I'll be OK. But when it comes, it's for the regular amount. Not more expensive than before all the fuss, but not reimbursing me for what I overpaid last time. So I call them again.

This time, the lady I'm talking to puts me on hold while she investigates. When she comes back, she tells me that I DID get all the credits I was supposed to, but that when my old unit arrived at their repair place, they found a sticky black liquid in it when they opened it up. That voided my warranty and so they charged me $175 for the unit. I told her NO, that didn't happen. I have toddlers. I put all electronics up on a high shelf. There was no liquid near them, and it could NOT have been damaged during the month I had it. It was a used machine, so how do they even know that the damage came from me. She tells me that all their used equipment is refurbished and any damage is repaired before it is sent out. I tell her I want to speak to her supervisor.

So her supervisor gets on the phone and she is pissed right from the get-go.

The unit was used, but it had been repaired before it was sent to me.

Really? Send me a copy of the repair records.

I don't have those records!

Then how do you know it was repaired?

ALL our units are repaired before they are sent out!

Really? You've eliminated human error in your repair shops? There are NO mistakes? You can document that?

And you're saying that it was working perfectly in your house and just HAPPENED to fail.

No. It never worked right. Check my file because I called with problems the day I got it.

Please HOLD!

... long wait. Then she's back.

I'm making a note in your file!

What does the note say?

We are reimbursing you the $175 as a courtesy, but JUST THIS ONCE!

So today I got the bill, and there's been another mistake. They reimbursed me $270. I'm not calling to complain on this one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Week's end

I didn't blog over the weekend, and to be honest, I didn't even think about it. The time flew by and there's very little to show for it. But even though it doesn't show now, it will. Zaven and Caly both got to spend some time with their friends. You would think that wasn't much of a big deal. But it's amazing how fast time is slipping away. With four kids, each in their own activities, there really isn't much of an opportunity to simply spend time with a friend. It's hard to decide what takes priority when it comes to our time, and even harder to stick with that decision. But I've always made an effort for them to get the chance to simply be kids. To have a friend spend the night, to stay up late watching movies and eating popcorn, to just hang out... those things are just as important as a fancy Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Heck, when you're a kid, they're far more important. And those are the times that heal your soul.

Friday, November 21, 2008


One of the things that I've been doing over the past few months has been trying to figure out how to get everything I want, legally, without paying. I say trying because it's not exactly been successful. So far no one has volunteered to pay for my water bill or chip in on my cell phone service. But all in all, it's been a productive study. I've learned a lot about how to maximize what I get for my money. I suppose I should write it all out, but honestly, that would take forever and not even be all that interesting. So instead, I will give a bit of advice for all those greedy people out there.

#1 Saving money takes time. It's a bit of a trade off. You spend the time researching prices or clipping and organizing coupons, or even calling customer service reps. But it pays off in a big way. Far bigger than most people realize.

#2 Since your time and money are both valuable, let other people do the work whenever possible. There are tons of websites and blogs that describe in exacting detail how to track sales, and many of them will match sales and rebates to coupons for you. In fact, it's almost a matter of too much information on a lot of the sites, too many deals in stores that aren't in your town and or for products that you don't buy.

#3 Stand up for yourself. When something doesn't work, make them take it back. When the price is too high, tell them that you're taking your business elsewhere. And when the wrong price is rung up, make them refund your money. Heck, ask them to give it to you for free. Because people are after your money. They are. I swear it.

One day soon, I'll tell you a great story about Dish Network, a company that sometimes make Goldilocks look generous. But don't worry, the story has a happy ending, LOL!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The shortest fall ever.

Well, I never thought I'd be talking about the weather on a blog, but I just can't resist. The weather here has been freaky. I woke up yesterday morning, stepped outside and did a doubletake. My entire yard was bright green. No, not grass. Leaves. We'd had an early freeze and the temp had dropped to 19 degrees. My maple tree had lost it's leaves a few weeks ago, but the pecan tree was still full and bushy. But the sudden freeze made it drop all of it's still green leaves. That was yesterday. Tonight it started snowing. And right now there's half an inch of snow on the ground. So Fall lasted exactly 36 hours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Return of the Prodigal Blogger

OK. I'm guilty. I totally blew this off for way too long. Seems like we've just been overwhelmed by everything lately. With the beginning of school there should have been more time. More time during the day when 3 kids were in school and the fourth was napping. More time in the evening because the kids all need to get in bed at a reasonable hour. But I totally forgot to factor in the other mores. More colds, viruses, and germs for Zoe because this is her first year in school and she doesn't have immunity to all the germs yet. More colds, viruses, and germs for me because the colds I got immune to when Zaven and Caly were little are not the colds going around now. And more exhaustion leaving me ready for bed long before I get around to thinking of something fun, smart, and witty to say.

But (cross your fingers) I think things may be settling down. Scott is still sick... but that's it. The rest of us seem to be well. And frankly, I missed this. I missed taking a moment to share with another adult the quirky little thoughts running through my head. So I'm hoping to do this again on a regular basis.

Now, you may be wondering what great thought and ideas I had while beseiged by germs.... I'm wondering that, too. It seems that if I don't write them down on a regular basis they evaporate. I know I thought a lot about politics. I was so torn up this year by the elections. I really, really admire John McCain the individual. I read about what he's done for his countrymen and am so inspired. But I didn't think John McCain the politician was the right person for the job this time around. I worried about the Republicans being so extreme in recent years, and I worried about how a uber-conservative supreme court could affect the nation. So I ended up voting for Barrack Obama but not feeling happy about that. It's not that I don't like him. I do. But I'm always wary of a good show. Too many times in my life I've realized that a good show was JUST a show, and didn't have substance. I hope, hope, hope that is not the case with Obama. Because if he CAN do all he says, then he'll be an amazing president. I just worry. I take all this very seriously.