Friday, November 20, 2015

Low income programs , free stuff, and Couponing Portland Oregon (maybe similar offers in your area too if you search) - Part 4

after part of demo, before tub was changed
after remodel done. 
UNLIMITED CHOICES - So the thing that inspired me to write about low income programs in my area was this.  Unlimited Choices.   I had heard about a program listed in Part 2 of this series that was for critical plumbing assistance through the city. After a year or so of trying to get an answer from the city, I found out that I am not in the correct area to get that program.  The man at the city said I could try Unlimited Choices. Unlimited Choices does plumbing and other critical home repairs for low income and people in need.  I contacted them and they asked me some preliminary questions and about our issues. I said that when we bought the house we got an inspection and they said that the plumbling for the 1/2 bath was done wrong, that we have a leak under our tub, and in the shower wall, and other leaks.   They mailed me an application and I filled in the income requirements and mailed it back. A few months later they called me and said we qualified for the program and that they needed to come see the project.  A man from Unlimited Choices came out and checked out our issues and took photos.  He informed me that they could NOT do any preventative work but they could fix the current problems. Then about 3 weeks later a contractor contacted us and said they would start the following Monday. Then 3 days later we had a new tub, new surround, new shower faucet and plumbing, new kitchen faucet, and they made sure the plumbing underneath the house didn't leak anymore.  They also did all the safety testing for lead and everything.  No cost to us.  I forgot to get photos of the complete before remodel. What you can't see is that there was this thin tin tile that was falling off the wall, inside the wall was all moldy, the tub had a spot that was warn off and getting thinner by the year, the drain didn't hold water, and you can see in the first photo the faucet was the original 1963 faucet. Below is the after photo.   I feel so blessed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Low income programs , free stuff, and Couponing Portland Oregon (maybe similar offers in your area too if you search) - Part 3

Oh my god - I'm so excited.  In Portland they have this thing that is called Arts for All, you can get discounted tickets to events for $5 using your Oregon Trail Card (Oregon's Snap card).  There is this huge lists of places you can get the $5 tickets at.








clipped from the Portland Center Stage Website
So I just got 2 tickets to the musical Ain't Misbehaving for $10.   Oh my gosh, so excited.

There are several more things I wanted to add but I ran out of time.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Low income programs , free stuff, and Couponing Portland Oregon (maybe similar offers in your area too if you search) - Part 2

THE ENTERTAINMENT BOOK can really be a good deal.  If you wait until the year is already underway you can buy these books for $10 if you get it at this discount it pays for itself on the first use. Last May I bought one of these books for my area and even got instant electronic access as well as free shipping.  Even if you just use it for events or Regal Cinemas you will make your money back pretty fast.

The reason we bought it is because last Mothers day had planned a trip to go to WAAM.WAAM or the Western Automobile and Airplane Museum and I knew it was too expensive so I was searching for a coupon, the only one I could find was in the entertainment book.  I knew it was expensive because one time a few years ago we went to go visit my mother in Hood River, who is in an advanced care center there. She wasn't doing well and didn't want visitors, so we decided to explore Hood River. We just happened across this museum.  We decided to go inside and just check to see how much entrance is, occasionally you will find a museum that is free or low cost. That was far from the case that time.


Here are the current prices - Adults: $14, Seniors: $12, Veterans: $12, Kids 5-18: $6, 4 & Under: Free. 

As we were checking out the gift shop and just chatting with the girl who worked there a couple came up and said they overheard our conversation about not being able to afford it and wanted to pay our way in.  I was a little embarrassed, but I know what it is like to offer help to someone and be rejected so I bit my tongue and just graciously accepted it.  We felt very very blessed.

Later on I knew that my mother and brother would really enjoy this, and the children liked it as well so I was just trying to find a way to save money. So I downloaded the app that said bogo, I called and double checked exactly how it worked. You can use it up to 4 times on one coupon.   So we basically got 50% off for Me, my husband, mother, brother, son, his girlfriend and 2 kids.  We split the costs with my brother and son and it was much more economical.

It would  have been
Me and E = $28
Bryan and Mom = $24
Teal and Sarah = $28
June and Jimi = $12
Total = $92
It ended up costing $46 instead of $92, and the cool thing is we still have the paper coupon to do it again, well until 12/31/2015.

If you decide to go by there keep in mind that there is the entire warehouse museum, but once a month you can actually ride in the cars. Check their website for details. Meanwhile, I recommend buying the Entertainment book in the spring when it is 75% off.


PLAY IT FORWARD / Snowman foundation   There is a local community organization called the Rosewood Initiative which is close to my house. I often see flyers posted on the window or just sitting inside for the community.  I came accross this information and I applied for a piano for my children because the deal also comes with free online piano lessons. But I think my story was not compelling enough because we never heard back. If you have a child with an established aptitude for music you may be able to get a free instrument or piano for them. Check it out.


MULTNOMAH COUNTY WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM   First off you have to be a homeowner for this, I think. Years ago we did this weatherization program. We had to wait a long time for this but we finally got it and they really did a lot of stuff. They added insulation put doors in. Closed air leaks.  It was pretty cool. I think I have an application in for this now. I had tried to apply for the plumbing assistance  in spring of 2014, they lost my application and then were really hard to pin down on my application and never called me back. But then I put in another application and they said I couldn't get the plumbing assistance for the pipe leaks under the house because out water is from Rockwood water. Our sewer is with Portland Water Bureau but it didn't qualify.  They did refer me to another low income program though.

FREE SMOKE ALARMS FROM THE FIRE BUREAU  This  is something that may be available all over the USA.  In Portland you have to be the homeowner, otherwise this is the responsibility of the Landlord, and is required.  But I am always excited for free help so I called them.  They came the very next day with a fire truck and full crew of fire men. Oh and they weren't very hot, and a little cranky, but maybe your luck will be better. They installed new smoke alarms with a 10 year battery. If you have existing smoke alarms all they will do is check them. The put one in the hall and one in each bedroom. And oh now the joy, every time I cook they go off. But were safe and I like the idea of a 10 year battery.

FAMILY FUN PASS  This is an article about the family fun pass. Since they only run from March to September 20th or so the page is not updated.  But come next spring search it up.  This is an amazing deal.It did cost $75 but it is entrance for 4 into 11 places. My favorites are - the Oregon Zoo, G6 (this is where you immediately get your money back, all day jump for 4 people. I adde di tup and it is valued at $80 per kid so this all day jump is worth $320 dollars alone.) North Clackamas pool, Portland Childrens Museum, Oregon Film Museum, Pittock Mansion, Chinese gardens, Gorge Discovery center in the Dalles, Oregon Garden in Siliverton, The Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Low income programs , free stuff, and Couponing Portland Oregon - Part 1

Since I have not been able to work for awhile due to my unpredictable health we are still in the income bracket of low income.  Being so, when I feel well I am seriously the master at finding  free stuff or awesome programs to help low-income families. So even though we only live on my husbands wages we are super lucky.

PORTLAND HOUSING CENTER: First off we started going through this home buyer program in 2011, through Portland Housing Center.  They help you improve your credit, and make you take classes about home ownership. At the time it cost $65 per couple. Since we hadn't owned a home in over 3 years we qualified as a first time home owner again. We got into the program with perfect timing because of the Oregon IDA, which is a savings account that you can use for specific purposes. When we got into it we somehow got the higher match rate where when we saved $100 and they gave us $400. So in the end we saved $2000, over about 2 years and they gave us $10,000.  So we had $12,000 for a down payment.   We also got into this low-interest rate program where our interest rate is only 3.125 .  We had to pick from the realtors that were listed on the program at the time Tyson Bolster was available. A really nice, funny, attractive guy who absolutely has integrity and he follows through Tyson Bolster at Georgetown Realty He really encouraged us and helped us find the best deal for our money.

DEQ - CAPS PROGRAM: :  My car wasn't running correctly for a few years, which started when my husband and cousins did some work on it and it never ran the same after that. I did a lot of research and I was sure it was the timing belt because according to the internet, PT Cruisers were notoriously difficult to get the timing right on. I told my husband about what I had found but they didn't believe me.   When it came time to renew our plates it would not get through DEQ.  I found on the back of the DEQ paperwork this program called CAPS, for low-income people to get help  fixing their car to get tags.  As always there was a thorough screening process and a pretty long wait which was about 4 months. But after that they fixed our car, it was the timing after all, there was a limit of I think $650 dollars worth of mechanic work.  Because it was a special program I think that the dealership charged less than normal. My car passed DEQ and they even waived part of the Fee.


http://211info.org/  We have used this for both food banks, Harvest Share programs,  and energy assistance. There has been several times when food banks have helped us a lot because after bills we could not afford food for the whole month even with the small amount of snap we get. My very good friend said to me one time, "Why on earth did you buy that house if you can't afford food." Well now especially we are lucky because rental prices have jumped far beyond what our house payment is. We pay $1200 a month for a mortgage and sometimes after all the bills there is barely anything left for food. With our house at least we are building our own equity rather than someone else's and our payment will only rise with taxes, and is not in the hands of the real estate boom that is happening in Portland.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY RE-STORE: The reason I bring this up is because our local ReStore has a free pile, look what we got for free. Last summer I was looking for cabinets for my little office and I kept checking out the free pile for cabinets and what not.  One time they got this huge shipment of furniture and cabinets. This particular dresser was to be sold for $175.  but because the back was all busted up it was in the free pile. There were multiple dressers like this that had damaged drawers. One was severely damaged on the front, so I switched one of the drawers with the damaged drawer on this one and voila, beautiful dresser. We brought it home, my husband fixed the broken parts on the back that no one will see anyway and I got a brand new piece of furniture.


EXTREME COUPONING WORKSHOP:  I saw an advertisement for this event in the local newspaper. I used to be really into couponing but it was just so much work so I stopped doing it.   My children like watching that extreme couponing show so when I saw this event and it was summer time I asked my kids if they wanted to go.   We went there and it was sort of misleading, they show you  the idea about how to get stuff for free like the extreme couponing show. But it just doesn't really work out the way they try to sell it to you.  They have this website called Oregon coupon matchups  The theory is this you order the newspapers in at least quantity of 5 for a Sunday and you get the Wednesday too. It costs you $20 a month, so it is very discounted considering it would cost about $20 a month for just 1 Sunday and Wednesday newspaper. They give you a $40 coupon for Oil Can Henry's so it is essentially free for a few months.  Then you only buy stuff when they are much cheaper than their normal retail price for example 50% cheaper.  The next step is  when you get your coupons you just mark the front of each pack with date and file it away into the box.  The abbreviations for the coupons are:  Smart Source = SS,  Red Plum= RP, and Proctor and Gamble = PG.

File sized filing box you get if you order the newspaper
 At the workshop they give you a filing box if you order the newspaper deal.  To pull it all together this is what they teach you, each week you go to their coupon matchups website, check off what you want and see where the corresponding coupon is (SS 11/1 for example), print your list (that you can reduce to only the items you are planning to buy), go to your filing box for the corresponding coupon,  clip them,  put them in a small ziplock bag,  go to the store and buy only the stuff on your list. Another note is that they say prices cycle through the sale price and coupon combo for items come around on a cycle which is every 3 to 6 months. That is why it is good to buy 5 at a time at the lower price.   I've tried to use the program how they explain but I've found that it doesn't bring the best savings for me. Since I'm at home I put a little more time into it and work a little harder than they proposed.

First  I check these websites for deals as well  http://thekrazycouponlady.com/deals/  and http://www.couponmom.com/ I usually check by store I'm planning to go to.  I also do coupons the old fashioned way, each week I clip only the coupons for products that I buy on a normal basis.
 I have  a little coupon box which is the size of index cards that I carry with me when I go to do normal shopping. I keep bogo and high valued coupons in the very front  so at any store I'm going to I can check to see if it is a good deal. Then when I am really trying to save money and plan a trip, I make my list of what I need and I search coupons on this coupon database website (note occasionally there will be coupons listed that must not be available in my area.)Please note this website also references the system of SS 11/1 or RP 11/1 etc..  Sometimes Safeway has double coupons where I end up with 5 of them, so I just make multiple trips for just a few items that are free. Like this one time I had a bogo coupon that was for beggin strips dog treats, up to 3.75 off and safeway had a deal bogo beggin strips, but it was 4.75 for one. I used the double coupon and it cost .50 for 2 beggin strips.

Example:
1 - Beggin Strips $4.75
1 - Beggin Strips $4.75
Subtotal = $9.50

Safeway bogo - $4.75
Manufactured Coupon - 3.75
double coupon -.50
Total discount = $9.00

Balance = .50 for 2 beggin strips

These websites refer to mobi, and ibotta, and I usually don't use those, I sometimes use the Riteaide Plenti points, and Walgreens points. You will see on the Krazy coupon lady where they will have money makers, that means you actually get paid money to buy stuff. But the way she does it is usually with ibotta and it feels like a lot of work to me. I prefer to use the newspaper coupons, but sometimes I'll also do printed coupons when I find them on one of the sites coupon database website.

Here is the stockpile I've collected, not including what I have in my house for use. Please note I did not get much of this for free, but in many cases I paid $1 ea or less than $1 for each item.  Sometimes I paid just cents but so far I only buy stuff I'm going to use at some point. I like to stock up if it is at least 50% off.
Britta water faucet filter systems for 9.99 ea (3)finish dishwasher soap for $2 ea. palmolive full size dish soap $1 ea. glad ziplock bags $1, swiffer refills $2. ea. Probiotics $1 ea. Magnesium $1 ea. 

small toothpaste .33 ea, large size toothpast .75 ea. edge shaving cream large la hairgel .75 ea. other hair-gel $1 ea. shampoos $1 ea. 

cheerios $1 ea, saltinee crackers $.88 ea, spicy vlassic pickles $88. ea. teriyaki sauce .$50

small tide bottles $2 ea, snuggle dryer sheets, $1. ea, febreeze $1 ea. garbage bags $1