Recycling Has Paid: Here’s A Breakdown So Far

Our community participates in a unique recycling program where your recycling is weighed during pickup (the scale is on the truck) every week, and you get ‘points’ that you can ‘spend’ on coupons and products at local and online retailers.  When the program was introduced about a year ago, it fell in conjunction with a new city trash collection program that lowered our trash bills about 50% and offered recycling opportunities on many items.

We can now recycle plastics 1-7, glass, all paper, cardboard, and other items.  The city provided all residents new garbage and recycling containers.  They’re both very big, and we’ve found that since the program kicked off, our recycling bucket is full more often than not, where we’ve never even filled up one quarter of our garbage bucket.

I thought I’d take a look back at how we’ve redeemed some of our ‘rewards’ and how, in addition to the 50% lower bills, how recycling has paid off (not that we need an incentive to recycle and be green, but saving green is always an added bonus!)

July 2009

  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 1) – We always get 20% off coupons, but this amounted to a 33% off coupon if you bought an item priced $30.  I’m not sure what we used it for, but I know we kept it as close to $30 as we could.

August 2009

  • Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty: 5) – At the time, the number of points they charged was next to nothing.  The maximum you could get at one time was ten.  I only ‘bought’ five because I actually thought there would be a catch, that it was such a good deal.  We waited until they were on sale for $1 per two-liter bottle, so we got some soda for free just in time for my son’s baptism party!

October 2009

  • More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – Now that I knew there was no catch, I loaded up on as many as we could and this batch lasted us through the holidays.
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 1) – We usually buy juice from concentrate but decided to look for a sale along with this coupon, and got a very cheap, tasty bottle of juice!
  • Kraft Salad Dressing – $2 off (Qty: 1) – We were able to find salad dressing on sale for $2 so we got a free salad dressing!
  • Local Restaurant – $5 off $25 (Qty:1) – One of our favorite places for breakfast offered this coupon.  Their prices are pretty reasonable as it is, and we like supporting local establishments.  We haven’t used this yet only because we would need a couple of extra people to join us to reach a $25 total, but we have it and are excited to use it soon!

January 2010

  • Even More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – We just used the coupons on these and got free soda for Baby Beagle’s first birthday party.  Note: They raised the ‘point’ cost on these to double what they had previously been.  Still a pretty good bargain.
  • Huggies – Buy one get one free – We got a free jumbo pack of diapers, and we were able to use a coupon on the pack we paid for.  Ka-ching!
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 2) – We haven’t redeemed these yet but will make sure to do so before they expire!

February 2010

  • Local Plant & Flower Nursery – $10 off $50 (Qty: 2) – We have purchased our flowers for the past couple of years at a local establishment.  By the time we buy a few flats, a hanging basket, soil, and other various needs, we usually spend around $125.  This will allow us to knock $20 off that!
  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 2) – We were able to buy items off a wedding registry and save some bucks along the way!

I can’t remember what the diapers cost, but I think that the added up savings from all this is just about $100.  That’s not bad for doing something that we were planning on doing anyways, and the items are all items that we were going to buy anyways.  Plus, we still have a ‘balance’ that we can use to purchase coupons that we find may be useful to us.

Overall, I’d say that recycling has really paid off!

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Spring To-Do List

I created a list of things to do around the house that I want to get done sometime in the spring.  Here’s a rundown of each one and where it stands:

  1. Basement Cleaning and Reorganization – Over the winter, I kicked off a project to clean up and organize the basement.  This involved setting up some additional shelving, re-organizing and discarding lots of old computer equipment, books, and other items, many of which were never properly dealt with when we moved into the house in 2007.  I’m proud to say that I worked on this one right off the bat and that this is DONE
  2. Replace backup sump pump battery – We have a sump pump that runs a lot in the springtime and during heavy rains.  There’s a battery driven backup system.  I noted that it no longer works, so I took the battery out and need to purchase, install, and test a new marine battery for the backup system.  IN PROCESS
  3. Repair and repaint bathroom ceiling – Some of the paint was peeling after twelve years of showers and steam (and a not very well located exhaust fan).  In order to avoid potential mold damage or drywall failure, I’m patching areas, re-priming and re-painting the ceiling in the master bath.  I’ve been working through this and expect to be done soon.  IN PROCESS
  4. Repair and repaint damaged bathroom wall – A towel bar was never installed properly and when I attempted to repair it by moving the anchor holes over, it didn’t work and created a hole in the wall instead.  I’m installing a hook on the bathroom door in lieu of the towel rack, and have worked on repairing the hole, and am planning on priming and re-painting at the same time as the ceiling work.  IN PROCESS

  5.  Unclog master bath sink drain – The drain from the sink has been running slow pretty much since we moved in.  Drano helps but only for a little bit of time.  I need to unclog the line or replace the drain.
  6. Clean window blinds – We have fifteen windows with standard horizontal blinds that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned since we moved in and the dustings and quick wipes are no longer cutting it.  I need to take them down and clean them.  Any suggestions on the best way would be appreciated.
  7. Clean inside windows – While the blinds are down, I want to clean the windows with non-streak glass cleaner.  The outsides are professionally done.
  8. Re-paint shutters – I painted the shutters two years ago and I guess I have my answer on how often they should be re-painted.
  9. Re-paint front door / garage entry door – The front door is painted the same color as the shutters and has actually suffered the majority of the fading since it gets lots of afternoon sun so I’ll do this in conjunction with the shutters.
  10. Assemble swing set – My in-laws had a neighbor that was losing her house last year, and had a swing set only a couple of years old that her kids had played with.  She offered it to us via my in-laws, saying all we had to do was disassemble it.  It’s currently in pieces on my in-laws patio, so we want to put it together and paint it so that Baby Beagle has a swing set to play on, which will be nice especially when he gets older.
  11. Clean deck – I want to thoroughly wash our deck to remove some of the grime that has appeared since I painted it last year, as I’ve been advised that washing it will extend the life of the paint job.
  12. Clean garage – I do a re-org and cleanup every spring and fall (at the minimum), so it’ll be time to do that soon!
  13. Clean out dryer line – Good thing to do to prevent dryer fires.
  14. Hang clock – My grandmother had an old antique clock that I’ve always cherished.  I have to mount this on the wall and put a couple of pieces back together….and then remember to wind it regularly!

It’s quite a list, but I’ve already got a head start on some of the bigger items, and some (like the clock and the cleaning of the deck and garage) can be knocked out pretty quickly.  I’ll keep an update of how things are going.

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How Did Our Painted Deck Hold Up After A Winter?

Probably my biggest around-the-house project in the summer of 2009 was stripping and repainting our deck.

We have a fairly large wooden deck, probably around 400-500 square feet.

When we moved into our house in 2007, the painted deck was beginning to flake. 2008 showed some definite wear, and I probably should have done the re-finish project then, but I put it off another year.

In 2009, I set forth to strip off the flaking paint and re-paint it.

I used a power washer to pull up most of the paint and dirt that had accumulated.  A few days of dry weather allowed things to settle down.

I purchased Cabot Paint specifically blended for exterior use.  I had done some homework and found some reviews that suggested that Cabot was durable and that many people were quite satisfied.  I had read quite a few negative reviews about Behr paint on decks, which I discovered (from a couple of cans tucked away in the garage) was what had previously been used.

The project went well.  It took two coats.  Our biggest surprise was that, unbeknownst to me, I had picked out a color that had a slight red hue, and it was quite bright after the painting.  Luckily, within a couple of weeks, the color dulled a bit and it actually turned out to be quite a nice color.  I wanted something other than plain brown, and because it had been painted in the past, the idea of applying stain or sealer was pretty much out the window.

Things looked good throughout the summer but I was really concerned to see how the deck held up after a winter.  My research during buying had shown that most of the problems that people had with decks beginning to flake took place after a full winter.  So, while things held up for the summer, I knew the first test would be after a fall and spring.

One of the things I did was to keep the deck fairly clear of leaves during the fall.  We’re lucky enough to have quite a few trees in our backyard, but that means leaves everywhere.  I had read that leaves breaking down (especially after getting wet) is pretty bad for decks, so I made sure to use my leaf blower a couple of times a week during the fall to keep the deck cleared off.

We didn’t have a lot of snow this winter, but we did have a few small snowfalls and a couple of major snowfalls which left snow cover for weeks afterward.

While I know we could get more snow, I am happy to say that everything with the deck looks pretty good so far!  I did a basic inspection and didn’t see any spots of flaking.

When I did my research for Cabot, some people said that they got an extra year in between refinishes (the average time is two or three years, and many people reported three or four years as their timeframe).  If I could get three years between significant breakdown, that would make my next repainting effort in 2012, and I’d be fine with that.  2013 would be even better!

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Weekly Roundup: March 19, 2010

As part of the Yakezie Challenge, I’ve come across a whole slew of great new blogs.  Here are three great articles I came across with other members in this group who have taken on the similar challenge of improving their Alexa website rating:

  • Fiscal FizzleHow To Sell Your Car On Craigslist – I sold a car last year on Craigslist and this pretty much sums up a lot of things that I learned.  I know a lot of people are leery of scams, but following your gut and some good advice can minimize this possibility.
  • Sweating the Big Stuff The 5 Worst Ways To Save Money – Saving money is great, but here are some ways not to go about it.   The last one is the way that I think most people ultimately get caught (you’ll have to click in to read what it is!)
  • Punch Debt In The FaceTalking Finance With Girl Ninja – This is a great article that talks about how to talk with someone who is not involved and/or part of the financial side of things.  I will actually have some conversation around a similar situation, so this was a great timed read!

Other great reads who aren’t in the challenge:

Check them out (but don’t forget to come back!) and enjoy some great reads by other bloggers who have unique perspectives into personal blogging.

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