Would you have gone back for $2.74? (The promised Scrubbing Bubbles saga!)

As I mentioned earlier today, I tried to buy Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaner Kit at Walmart yesterday. I had all three children with me and we’d already made two stops, naptime was upon us, and my patience was beginning to wear thin.

“Just a few more things,” I promised the children (and myself!) as I drove the cart down the aisles as briskly as I could.

We headed for the cleaners and discovered that my Renuzit coupon had just expired. “Oh well, at least it wasn’t something we were needing.” I consoled myself.

I eagerly pushed the cart over to the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaner Kits and scanned the prices. Yay! One more $3.97 kit on the shelf!

I stretched my short 5-foot-3-inch frame up as far as it would go and was just barely able to reach that lone last box at the back of the shelf. I tossed it into the cart and we were off again.

As we neared the checkout lane, I began my usual cashier “profiling” to see who looked the friendliest and most efficient. I was price-matching, using quite a few coupons, and had three children who were anxious to get home, so the last thing I needed was trouble at the checkout lane.

Gratefully, the express lane was open and a smiling face greeted me. She swiftly rang everything through, there wasn’t nary a hitch, and I was about ready to pay when the total surprised me.

Something was off by at least a few dollars. I double-checked that all the coupons had come off–and they had. So I chalked it up to a miscalculation on my part.

But after paying, I knew it couldn’t be right. Almost everything I bought should have been free–except for the $6.97 bottle of “Magical Juice” and the five $0.99 cantaloupes.

I pulled the receipt out and scanned it again. Sure enough, the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Kit had rung up at $6.47 instead of $3.97 as it was marked.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do. I looked back at the cashier and there was a line of people she was ringing up. No, it wouldn’t be polite to go try to rectify things with her and make everyone else wait. I really needed to get home, but I just couldn’t stomach paying $2.50 plus tax for a Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Starter Kit.

So, I made my way to customer service wondering if I was now losing my mind to be asking for a refund of $2.50 when it was past naptime. I was relieved to see only one person in front of us at the customer service desk. When I got up to the customer service desk, I was also relieved to see that the clerk there was smiling. (Grouchy customer service reps are definitely no fun to deal with!)

I told her what had happened, we looked through the ad to verify the price, and then I realized my mistake: Only the One Step Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Kits were on sale. I had purchased a 2-in-1 Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Kit.

It was in the wrong place on the shelf and I’d used a coupon that wasn’t even good for the item I had purchased! Big oops on my part and I felt like a dork–especially since I’m usually so careful to only buy exactly what is in the ad and triple-check the shelf item against the ad.

But the lady generously offered to refund my money, which I agreed would be the wisest move. I told her that I had used a $4/1 coupon, though, so she’d need to deduct that from the total.

She said, “Oh, well then I have to go get the coupon from the cashier you checked out with in order to deduct it.”

Now I really felt awful.

Not only had I bought the wrong item and used the wrong coupon, but my mistake was going to mean this customer service lady was going to have to go traipse back through the store to where I’d checked out and dig up the coupon I’d used.

She didn’t seem bothered at all and was off in a jiffy. I just stood there feeling terrible about the whole thing.

In no time at all, she was back and had refunded my money–all two dollars and 74 cents of it. All I could do was express immense gratitude for her help and walk out to the car shaking my head.

What was I thinking? I didn’t even need a Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Kit in the first place. Maybe I should just stick with using baking soda from now on!

So now I’m curious: would you have gone to customer service if you had made a mistake that had cost you $2.74? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

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Frugal Failure: So much for my beautiful Cinnamon Sugar Bread!

You know how I promised you the Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Cinnamon Sugar Bread recipe this week?

Well, um, I thought I had tweaked the recipe and worked out the perfect combination of ingredients. However, when I went to make a final batch to make sure it worked correctly, I made a serious mistake: I forgot to put the paddles in the bread machine!

So I ran the whole dough cycle without any paddles. Which, ahem, is a rather pointless exercise.

When I finally discovered my mistake, it was too late in the day to run another dough cycle and bake the bread, so I just let the ingredients sit until the morning.

In the morning, I tried to run the dough cycle again, this time with the paddles in. Only (you’re not going to believe this!), one of the paddles wasn’t in all the way, so only half the dough got mixed up.

Determined not to waste the ingredients, I ran the dough through yet another short cycle. It rose and rolled out normally and baked into a beautiful loaf.

But the looks of this beautiful loaf were very deceiving, because when I cut into it, I found a practically hollow loaf.

Oops.

The girls and I ate the bread, regardless of the mishaps, and it was still quite good. But I thought the filling needed a little more tweaking and, obviously, I need to get my brain cells connected better so I can make dough correctly.

I promise I’ll experiment some more over the next few days and hopefully be able to present a delicious and near-perfect Cinnamon Raisin and Cinnamon Sugar Bread recipe next week. Hopefully!

Note: Apparently, I’m not the only one with bread issues this week, since Tammy also had a similar mishap. I guess I’m in good company. :)

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A Shiny New Car is Not Always All It’s Cracked Up to Be

As most of you know, we finally replaced Old Blue Van and paid cash for a new-to-us car recently. We’ve never had a car with less than 60,000 miles on it (most of ours have been purchased at closer to 100,000 miles!) so buying a less-than-three-year-old car was a pretty monumental purchase for us.

When Jesse brought the car home, we were so excited for him to have reliable transportation. But I have to admit that we both were excited about more than the reliability of the transportation: we liked having such a beautiful car in impeccable condition.

A few nights later, we drove it to an event and when we parked and got out, a random stranger hollered from a few parking stalls over, “Nice car, man!” I looked over at my husband and said with a huge grin, “I bet that’s the first time someone’s ever said that about your car, isn’t it?”

However, our big bubble of pride was just about ready to be burst.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Jesse pull into the garage but he didn’t come in the house like usual. Instead, he called my phone.

“This is weird,” I thought. “Why not just walk in and tell me instead of calling me from the garage?”

After answering the phone, I heard him say in very upset tones, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it!

I started getting worried at how frustrated he seemed. It’s very rare for him to get upset and he was really worked up about something.

But my heart went up into my throat when he said, “I just shut the garage door down on the back of the car!”

It was my turn to be upset now. “You what? How could you have done that?? Please tell me the car’s not ruined!” I exclaimed in harsh tones without waiting for him to answer.

The car’s back bumper was no longer in impeccable condition. Instead, it had an indentation and gash from our garage door imprinted on it.

I was angry at my husband. He was angry at himself. And we were both sick that our beautiful car was now marred.

After 30 minutes of huffing and puffing over it, we both finally stepped back and realized how stupid we were being. Here we were all upset over a dent on a vehicle when people all over the world are wondering where their next meal is going to come from or how they are going to pay the medical bills for their child with cancer. A dent in our shiny new car is very microscopic in comparison and it’s certainly not worth having a fight over or losing sleep over.

This incident has taught us a very important lesson: when you buy nicer things, it’s easier to become more attached to them. If we had shut the garage door down on Old Blue Van, we would have laughed and let it go because it would have just been one more flaw to add to the van’s character.

But our reaction was completely different when it came to our new car — and it made us realize how we’ve wrongly become too attached to this car. Three months ago, we were content to drive a clunker. But, after buying a new car, we were all of a sudden getting angry over a dent in the bumper!

It was just the reality check we needed to jolt us out of our selfishness and pride and remind us that things are just things. We can’t take them with us and they are all God’s anyway.

We likely can get the dent fixed on the car, but at this point, I’m not so sure we will. It’s serving as a constant reminder to us that it’s just a car. There are much more important things in life than driving a shiny new car in impeccable condition.

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I guess we’ll chalk this up to “Moving Brain” — if there is such a thing!

You’ve heard of “Baby Brain” before, but I think we need to coin a new term called “Moving Brain.” Because seriously? I have no idea where my brain cells are this week.

I came across quite a few outdated spices and other baking items which needed to be pitched while packing up the kitchen, so I had this “brilliant” idea to let the girls play they were “making muffins” with these baking items.

I sat them down on the kitchen floor with some plastic cups and spoons and let them have at it. It occupied them for a good hour or so and I was patting myself on the back for coming up with such a great form of frugal entertainment.

Then, I got busy with some unpacking somewhere and someone else got Silas up from his nap. Apparently, he wanted to help “make muffins,” too.

Unfortunately, my “brilliant” idea which kept the girls busy for an hour playing, also ended up taking me over an hour to fully clean up. While doing so, I quickly discovered that tile floors don’t mop up as easily as laminate. And I also became very familiar with all of our grout. :)

Next time, I think we’ll try experiments like this in the backyard!

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Apparently, not all food processors are created equal

I think this frugal failure is about at the level of our suitcase disaster. Maybe not quite, but it’s really close! (Only this time, at least we can get our money back!) Whatever the case, I got a good laugh over it once I realized my stupidity. :)

After last Freezer Cooking Day and all your rave reviews of how a food processor has changed your life, I started considering whether maybe this was a tool I should invest in.

I spend a lot of time grating cheese and the processor could shave off at least 30 minutes of time each Freezer Cooking Day. I figured I’d recoup the investment pretty quickly just in that time savings alone. Plus, I could use it for chopping veggies and onions. And, based upon what you all said, I could also use it for a myriad of other tasks.

After some thought, I decided to take the plunge. I looked online, compared prices, looked at reviews and finally decided to go with the Cuisinart pictured above.

I was looking forward to the time and effort it was going to save me and I was especially happy that it was going to arrive before my next Freezer Cooking Day.

The box showed up on Tuesday and I tore into it excitedly and pulled it out. My mother’s helper comes on Tuesdays and she was standing nearby while I was telling her how I’d decided to buy one to replace our rusted little cheese grater. She looked over the box and then asked, “Um, how does it grate cheese.”

Um, good question. I don’t know. But it’s a food processor. Don’t all food processors grate cheese?

Well, apparently not all food processors grate cheese and the one I purchased certainly doesn’t. It grinds and chops, but doesn’t have a grating attachment.

Oops.

Needless to say, I felt like a complete doofus for buying something which doesn’t even do what I was specifically buying it for. And I felt even dumber that I didn’t even check the description to make sure the food processor actually grated cheese. That was, after all, kind of the whole idea behind buying it!

I’m planning to return the food processor–unless someone can tell me how I can grate cheese with it (it didn’t appear there was any sort of extra attachment you could buy, but let me know if there is!).

And since I’m obviously not very capable of ordering the right kind of food processor on my own, could you help me out? What brand and model do you recommend? Anything else I need to know before I royally screw up another purchase?!

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How We Spent $145 Trying to Save $40

Trip 

We had a wonderful trip to San Diego last week, but it was not without a few mishaps–one which cost us pretty dearly.

We'd watched the sales, compared lots of prices on many different websites, and ended up getting an excellent travel deal through Travelocity for our trip package. To further sweeten things, we had shopped through ShopAtHome during their double cashback days around Thanksgiving so we also got a nice refund on our travel purchase.

And we were paying with cash we had set aside for this celebratory vacation, so we were feeling pretty happy about how inexpensively we were pulling off this trip to San Diego. We should have known better than to be patting ourselves on the back, though, for we were about ready to make a silly and costly mistake–all in an effort to save more money.

We're not seasoned travellers and we've only flown a few times in the last few years so we haven't done a great job of keeping up with the rules and regulations for air travel. The last time we'd flown, we'd brought in our two smaller hand-me-down suitcases and ended up having to pay $80 ($20 per suitcase per flight) to get our suitcases to our destination and back. That seemed like an awful lot of money to pay and we noticed pretty much everyone else around us checked only one large bag.

This time around, we decided we'd get smart. We'd do what it seemed everyone else did when travelling and we'd only bring one suitcase. This would save us $40 and would be more efficient, right?

We used a gift card to buy the largest suitcase we could find and we packed everything in it.  And I do mean everything. Aside from us each having a small carry-on bag, we had packed every article of clothing, all the diapers, and pretty much every other thing we'd need for five people to be gone for six days. Suffice it to say, it was a lot of stuff, even though we tried our best to only pack essentials.

We could barely lift the stuffed-to-overflowing suitcase to get it in the van when we left, but we'd done it–we'd only used one suitcase!

By the time we got everyone out of the van and into the check-in line at the airport, it was only 40 minutes until our flight was scheduled to leave. (In our podunk Kansas airport, there's usually no need to get there early since the lines are short and move quickly.)

We were feeling happy with how everything was going until we noticed that the folks in front of us had their big suitcases open and were rearranging things. The couple next to them had clothes and miscellaneous items all strewn around the floor in front of the check-in counter and they were quickly dumping more out and angrily talking amongst themselves. 

It was then that we heard the reason behind all this craziness. The lady at the check-in counter bellowed out: "If your suitcase is over 50 pounds, there's a $145 charge!"

Jesse and I instinctively looked at each other, looked at our one gigantic suitcase, and looked back at each other. We were in trouble.

We took our suitcase up to the scale and weighed it. It totaled a whopping 71 pounds. Um, yes, what were we thinking?!

A simple phone call or web search would very likely have let us know days ago that our suitcase was going to be too heavy. But we'd foolishly never taken the time to check.

With about 35 minutes to spare until our flight took off, we quickly surveyed our limited options. There was no way we could lighten up the load in the suitcase by 21 pounds–we'd basically only packed essentials but when you're travelling for six days with three little children, it requires quite a few essentials! And we'd miss our flight and very likely not be able to catch another in the next 24 hours if we waited for someone to bring us another suitcase.

Realizing we didn't really have any other options, we stepped up to the counter, gulped, and paid $145 for that massive suitcase.

Next time we think we're making a "smart" decision based upon what we think we see other people doing, we hope we'll remember our suitcase mistake and stop and do our own research. It just might save us $145–or more!

By the way, we borrowed a carry-on suitcase from FishMama for the way home and we were able to strategically work things so our big suitcase only weighed in at 49.5 pounds!

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