SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

Clipart of bills and coins

In the age of electronic everything, many of us pay bills online.  There are options to autodraft almost every bill I have.

I rarely use that option.

I need to see a bill.  When my bills come in, I open them, check the due dates and amounts, and put them aside till bill-day.  I pay my bills on my paydays, twice a month, and it works out really well.  But actually looking through the bills has saved me money.

This is not the best example, but last year, I noticed that my water bill was getting higher every month.  There are several things included in my water bill, such as ambulance, sewer, trash pick up, that automatically make this around $50 each month.  A water bill of $100 made my teeth grind but I still didn’t really question it.

A $300 bill got my full attention.

I called the local water department and asked them to re-read my meter.  They stated that they did and it was correct.  Grizz, with his head for numbers, did the math and we’d have been using thousands of gallons a day.  While nobody was at home.  The water department told me we must have a leak, so Grizzly, connected in that construction world, had a plumber friend come and check it out (potential savings: $160).  No leaks.  I called the water department and suggested they replace the meter.

I’ve not had a bill over $80 since.

While they did not credit back any of that $300, I cringe thinking about how long that could have gone on if I hadn’t been careful about checking my bill.  And thankfully I didn’t use autodraft, because I would never have planned appropriately for a $300 water bill.

Another example of my vigilance paying off came just this week.  My Verizon bill came in the mail and it didn’t look right. The House of Cheaptitude  has multiple cell phones, a home phone, and our internet service all on one plan, so the bill is not a fun one, but it saves money to bundle these into one bill.  While I did upgrade my phone last month and charge it to my account, the pricing didn’t look right.  So I called customer service.

When I purchased my handy-dandy Droid Razr Maxx HD, it was on sale $50 off (or I would have waited to buy it!)  Over the past year, Verizon added a $30 upgrade fee, but I would still be $20 off the full price.  Then, there was a $50 loyalty discount.  The price wasn’t right.

When the awesome lady at customer service started checking into it, she agreed with me.  She found where I had not received one of my discounts and immediately credited my bill.  Savings – $50.  All it took was a ten minute phone call.

It really pays to keep an eye on your bills and get a grip on how much they should be each month!

Are you an autodraft fan?  Or does your CDO have you pouring over your bills, line by line?

~ Katie



{February 2, 2013}   Oh, My! (Garage)

ga·rage  (g-räzh, -räj) n.

1. A building or indoor space in which to park or keep a motor vehicle.
2. A commercial establishment where cars are repaired, serviced, or parked.
tr.v. ga·raged, ga·rag·ing, ga·rag·es

To put or store in a garage. (source:
My garage defies’s definitions.  In fact, I do not believe a vehicle has been housed in my garage since my in-laws lived here, many moons ago.  When we moved in, our garage was an obstacle course of clothes, boxes, books, and other forgotten/left behind scraps, souvenirs, and stuff.  Over the years, those things have been containerized and relocated, either to the attic, various houses, or Goodwill,  replaced by my little family’s own junk belongings.  None of which include a vehicle.
In the bursting metropolis of SoBo, few of our friends actually use their garages for parking cars.  Most of our circle consider a garage a three-season party room, an extension of the home, a true entertaining space.  When we invite friends and family for cook outs or other social occasions, everyone does gravitate to our garage.  Maybe it’s because Grizzly has moved the grill from the back porch to the driveway (yes, we are redneck like that) or because it’s open enough to smoke, but our garage has become party central.
The part that bugs me about it is that my garage is a mess.  It is not a room.  It is not the man-cave I envision.  It is not the stockpile storage I crave.  It’s a cluttered wreck.
I had such high hopes, thank you Garage Majal.
My next major project is to organize the garage.  A few years back, I moved a tv, stand, and vcr out there for the kids.  I had no purpose for that stuff in the house anymore and as much time as we spend in the garage, it keeps them entertained on rainy days.  Grizzly inherited a kegerator from a friend who transferred to Hawaii, and it still needs a little bit of work, but it will eventually save a fortune in beer.  There is a set of shelves  I made him for Christmas over ten years ago to display his NASCAR die-cast collection.  The die-cast have disappeared over the years, but there are things on those shelves.  They’re too shallow for stockpiles, but will be great – eventually – for grilling gadgets.  I also have two school desks the monkeys have outgrown that I can’t bear to get rid of (they’ll be useful for something) and 2 old dressers where I store some of my stockpile items.
If I can only get it organized!
Grizzly wants it transformed into a magical man cave with the kegerator in operation and a pool table at the ready.  I’m cool with that.  I could even see running satellite to that old tv.  But I need a little space and request the far wall.  I’d like some of the heavy duty wire shelving like they use in the hospital.  Then I could see parting with those dressers.
Valuable real estate, currently going to waste at the Queen of Cheaptitude’s house.
Any ideas?
What’s your next major improvement project?
~ Katie


English: Monkeys in a barrel

The other night, cruising the web, I found a really neat blog (of course, I cannot for the life of me recall what it was!) that dealt with running a home more smoothly.  This lady has several children and she home schools them.  It sounds, from her blog, as though all of the kids help around the house.  The thing that caught my attention was LAUNDRY.


Mt. Washmore can be overwhelming for anyone.  I just went foundation shopping with Perkilicious and she was saying that she really needed to wash laundry before we go back to work next week.  So laundry even qualifies as “single girl problems.”  With my family of four active individuals, laundry can quickly get out of hand and for sure takes a big chunk of my few free minutes.  Grizzly works in construction and changes clothes at least twice a day.  Summertime, 100+ degrees?  Forget about it.  The monkeys wear uniforms to school and often change when they get home.  Monkey 2 rolls around in the dirt with her four-legged bff, Jasmine. Laundry is never-ending at my house.

The blog I found had some neat strategies.  This lady’s kids process their own laundry!  They each have their own basket.  Each family member is assigned a laundry day.  They wash, dry, fold/hang and put their clothes away!  I think she helps the littlest monkeys.  How cool is that, though?

So yesterday I snatched Monkey 1 up by his ear and took him to the bathroom hamper.

“What are we doing in here?”

“I’m going to show you how to sort laundry,” I told him.

“Why do I need to know how to sort clothes?”

So much for buy-in.

I stood my ground, though.  He sorted his clothes from his sister’s and then separated lights from darks.  We moved on to the utility room and I showed him where I keep the laundry soap, how to measure it, and how to start the washer.  I explained to him that since we use powdered soap, we let the water run a little and start dissolving the soap before we add the clothes.  He needed a little help distributing things evenly, but he actually had a look of accomplishment on his face when we closed the lid!

Not so much when I told him it was time to dry his load of laundry.

“This is taking a long time,” he complained in that whiny twelve-year old voice I’ve come to know and love.  I told him that by shaking out the clothes and putting them neatly in the dryer, things would dry more quickly and not be quite so wrinkled.  He was less than impressed but continued to shake the clothes out.

By the time it was time to actually fold clothes and put them up, the monkeys were on their way out the door for their New Year’s date with Nana and the ladies and I was a little frustrated with the process myself.

Is my adventure in Monkey participation over?  Not by a long shot.  Monkey 1 knows his way around the washer now, with some guidance, and tomorrow is another day.  Even the little bit he knows now is a time-saver for me.  Next, we will work on folding, hanging, and putting away.  He won’t like it, but I imagine he’ll get it figured out.

Vintage Wicker Laundry Basket Large Oval No. 3

Coupons Ecover


If you watch that show, you know that different stores have different policies when it comes to purchasing limits and coupons.  Some stores limit how many like items you can buy at the sale price, how many coupons will double, price matching, etc.  Before you head to the store armed with your detailed list and carefully organized coupon collection, familiarize yourself with the store’s policies.


Where can you find your store’s policies?  Most stores these days have websites.  That would be the first place I check for coupon and sale policies.  You can also enter “_____store coupon policy” into your favorite search engine.  Make sure it is as current as possible!  With the popularity of that show, stores are changing their policies a lot more frequently.  I check the internet about once a month for updated policies, as I surf for printable coupons I might need/want.  As I tend to primarily shop four stores, this doesn’t take much time.  If you can’t find the policy online, ask at the service desk when you’re at your chosen store.  They should either have hard copies available or can tell you where it can be located.


Why do you want your store’s policies on hand? I keep my store policies in sheet protectors at the back of my binder.  They are dated so I know how current they are.  Having a hardcopy of the policy in my binder backs me up if there is a misunderstanding at checkout.  For example, I had a cashier tell me that Brookshire’s does not accept internet coupons.  I was able to show him in the store policy that Brookshire’s will accept an internet coupon as long as it has a bar code and scans properly.  Most checkers are happy to make the customer happy, but they have to follow their store’s guidelines.


I think that’s all I have for store policies.  It’s important that you know them and it’s important that you have them on hand to support your successful couponing.  The better prepared you are, the more money you will save.


Do you have anything to add?


~ Katie








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