Hall of Mirrors

One of creative attractions to see in City Museum, St. Louis, MO

Boracay Island, Philippines

Breathtaking view from a helicopter

My First Snow

A peaceful snowy day of early 2012

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Mar 7, 2014

3/8 haul: I'm back, Walmart!

It's been months since I shopped with coupons at Walmart and while I was MIA from couponing I had heard that Walmart has implemented stricter policy regarding coupons like they won't manually enter coupons if it doesn't scan and will have to return said coupons back to the customer. So I was a little nervous about my small trip as I used printable coupons.

After two transactions, voiding 5 Minute Maid juices and a coupon that wouldn't scan I paid $19.71 after tax which exceeded my budget. And it was because 2 of the voided Minute Maid juices didn't apply. I will have to go back and get a refund so ideally $15.95 is my OOP after tax. Here's the breakdown below:

Transaction #1
Buy 6 Minute Maid Pure Squeezed  $2.98ea    (1 bottle already opened :D )
Use 6 of the $1.00/1 Minute Maid Pure Squeezed IP
= $11.88 or $1.98 each

Buy 12 IAMs Purrfect  $0.58ea
Use 4 of the $2.00/3 IAMs Wet Cat Food IP
= $8.00 or $1.04 Moneymaker!

Transaction #2
Buy 2 Sweet Baby Ray's $1.88ea
Use $2.00/2 Sweet Baby Ray's Sauce IP
= $1.76 or $0.88 each

Buy 12 IAMs Purrfect  $0.58ea
Use 4 of the $2.00/3 IAMs Wet Cat Food IP
= $8.00 or $1.04 Moneymaker!

Feb 19, 2014

CVS not-so-successful Trip

This was my latest shopping trip to CVS which I ended paying more than my calculated OOP (Out of Pocket expense). The store I went to were out of the Angel Soft TP so I got the Sparkle paper towels instead to get the deal. I asked for a rain check though so it was okay. And my $10 off $50 purchase wouldnt scan.

So, after coupons and CVS gift card I paid $13.79 after tax for 24 items. Not bad at all....

Dec 1, 2012

My new hobby -- Couponing!

I haven't been active on Swagbucks.com lately because I started to learn how to use coupons and before I knew it -- I got addicted to couponing! Yep! I have been shopping more frequently than before I used coupons. Saved some bucks too! I am not going to post a how-to-use-coupons guide because there are a lot of coupon blogs and sites that have tutorials about how to use them. All you gotta do is read, read, read or watch video tutorials online.

What I do is print coupons over the Internet since I don't buy newspapers.

Here are the sites I regularly visit to find deals.

Look how much I got for using coupons in just three months!

Stockpiling or Hoarding?

Sep 23, 2012

Aspiring couponista

Learning the ropes of a couponista. I sat on the floor at Target trying to combine coupons and find the best deals but I got so confused. It was fun though.

Aug 16, 2012

Fedex SmartPost vs. UPS Shipping

I am expecting two shipments in one order from Amazon.com (free stuff agan because of Swagbucks I know I said was going to post about it lol). One package was sent through UPS and the other package through Fedex Smartpost. It is very interesting to compare the two shipping services as both couriers shipped my items on the same date. So in real time I can compare their services.

I track both packages on Packagetrackr.com - an all-in-one tracking tool for all shipments and what I love about this site is that it includes a visual route of a package using Google Maps. It's a cool way of understanding where and how far your package is. For me, a picture or an illustration is easier to understand than mere updates like scan updates, etc. Below are the screenshots from Packagetrackr.com of my shipment tracking info.

Fedex SmartPost route originated in Indianapolis, IN. Photo insert is the item to be delivered.

UPS route originated in Louisville, KY.  Photo insert is the item to be delivered.

The green computer icons are the shipment scans. As you can see UPS route is slightly further compared to Fedex's route but as of this writing my item from UPS is to be delivered today while Fedex tomorrow based on the tracking details. However, USPS received my item yesterday so I might receive today we'll see.

Here is what I figured out SmartPost takes longer because they utilize USPS which does their own tracking and sorting time so time between that is critical as to when you would actually receive your package. Bottom-line is Amazon.com or any business that uses SmartPost are the ones that fully gain the advantage not the customers.

Jul 18, 2012

Amazon.com Free Super Saver Shipping Review

I am excited to receive my first and free Amazon.com order. Free because I used Amazon gift cards I snagged from Swagbucks. I will have to post about how I got free gift cards and what Swagbucks is. But for now I want to share my experience with Amazon's shipping service -- the Free Super Saver Shipping (SSS). It's free shipping when you order eligible products that reach at least $25.

As you know, it was my first time to place an order online so I'm pretty excited in receiving it. I tried to combine items to take advantage of the Free Super Saver Shipping but I ended up redoing my orders until I settled for one and placed an order on July 10, 2012. The delivery estimate is on July 19, 2012 as shown on the picture below based on my Amazon.com order summary.

I learned that Amazon.com uses various carriers like the USPS, Fedex, UPS and a regional carrier in the area.  For the Free Super Saver Shipping Amazon utilizes Fedex SmartPost where the final delivery is serviced by the USPS. I searched reviews about SSS and Fedex SmartPost most of them are negative reviews -- not a good impression for me. Although I had to give the shipping services benefit of the doubt because a free shipping is obviously going to take days or weeks. If you want free, be ready to wait. Duh.

Anyways, I have been checking the shipping status since it was shipped the next day July 11, 2012 (hooray!) The screenshot below is from Fedex tracking page. So my package just got forwarded to USPS today but I wasn't pleased with the adjusted delivery date a day later than the original delivery date. I don't like how Fedex adjusted the delivery date and still indicate it's on schedule.

I tracked it on USPS site and below is the screenshot. Maybe my package will arrive on time after all. Now it's in the hands of USPS. We'll see...... This post won't be a complete review until I receive my package.

Update: I received my order ON TIME! Yahooo! I was so happy and satisfied with the Free Super Saver Shipping from Amazon. It took 7 days excluding Sunday. So far so good I'm definitely using their free shipping again.

Jul 14, 2012

The Second Step: Applying for K-1 Visa

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing, and NVC will send it to the U.S. Embassy where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.

I remember my excitement after our petition got approved but I was very confused on what to do next. Below are the processes I did prior to applying the K-1 Visa.
  • Obtain your Manila Case Number from NVC - call/email NVC after you receive the NOA2 (Approval Notice from USCIS) between 2-3 weeks. 
    Note: Visa interview may be set up before OR after the medical exam. In my case, I scheduled my interview AFTER I completed medical exam.  Also, don't wait for the Packet 4 because the U.S Embassy seldom send them to the applicants and it would arrive late usually and I never received mine. But here is the link to Packet 4
  • Your  fiancé(e) can proceed to a complete medical exam at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview Applicants are advised to have their medical examinations done at least one week before their interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Click here for the Medical Exam required documents. I suggest register online because you will skip the registration process at SLMCEC so you save time.
    Current Medical Exam Fee:  $223.00 - SLMCEC does not accept credit card or dollar payments. The fees must be paid in Philippine pesos at the prevailing exchange rate.  
Documents I brought with me for my medical exam
  • Make sure your income meets the current  Poverty Guidelines because it is a strict requirement that you can support your  fiancé(e) when she/he arrives to the U.S and some applicants have been denied or delayed the process of a visa because of this. Click here for the current Poverty Guidelines.
  • Pay the Visa Fee at any BPI Branch (your Passport Number will be the Receipt Number.) Wait 3-4 hours before scheduling your interview date.
  • You may either call U.S Embassy and have them schedule your interview or you may set it up online: www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/  
  • Below are the documents I prepared:
  • BPI Receipt
  • Visa Interview confirmation 
  • PASSPORT. You must have a passport valid for at least six (6) months. 
  • Form DS-156 (2) copies 
  • Form DS-157 (2) copies 
  • DS-156K (1) copy 
  • Visa Photos (3) copies. I pasted two of them on the Form DS-156
  • EVIDENCE OF A GENUINE ENGAGEMENT. Photos, e-mails, chat transcripts, Western Union Receipts, engagement ring receipt
  • Form  I-134 Affidavit of Support (Original copy) 
  • Supporting documents: Form W-2 (2010-2008), ITR 2010, Recent Pay Stubs, Letter of Employment, Bank Statement, US Petitioner's Birth Certificate
  • We also prepared our co-sponspor's documents just in case the CO would determine that my husband (fiance at that time) didn't meet the Poverty Level required. But the Consul didn't ask for it so I was very relieved.