Monday, June 15, 2009

AnySoldier June Mailing

I try to mail out a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan every month. It is my small, personal way to say "Thank You" to those that serve my country. This year, I have not been as consistent about t as I would like. However, I was determined to get it done this month. I don't know anyone personally there; I get addresses from Any Soldier, Inc.

This month, I decided to see how frugal I could be and still come up with a good care package. Here is my final result:

At the Any Soldier, Inc. website, the soldiers can request specific items. As part of my frugal challenge to myself, I determined only to send things that were specifically requested.

First I looked around my house. I had:

(1) Toothbrush - given to me by my dentist at my last visit, but not my brand.
(2) Pantyliners - accidentally ordered (I meant to get the X-long ones); not worth sending back (postage would cost more than I paid)
(3) Pens - I buy these in bulk at Sam's, because I hate looking for a pen
(4) Books - I found that I somehow had duplicates of these two books in my collection

Out of pocket costs = $0.

Then I went to Rite Aid, where I had the end of a $25 gift card that I got for transferring a prescription. With it, I bought (all prices include tax)

(5) Shampoo - $1.13
(6) Conditioner - $1.13 x2
(7) Large Hershey Bar - $1.08
(8) Microwave Popcorn - $1.38 x2

and I also paid for

(9) Off Sportsman - $4.35

At Winn-Dixie, I bought

(10) Crest Toothpaste - $1.00

At Wal-Mart, I got

(11) Suave Deodorant - $1.06
(12) Notebook - $0.27

Walgreens was having an advertised sale on their store tampons - 2 packages for $4. Normally, I buy myself natural 100% cotton tampons, but these soldiers had specifically requested plastic applicators. As far as I know, there are no natural cotton tampons with plastic applicators available on the market. So I saved a ton of money vs. what I would usually buy, Natracare Organic All Cotton Tampons. I buy them in bulk, but they are still almost $5 each. So,

(13) Plastic Tampons - $2.18 x2

I was doing well - under $20. I got it all packaged up ...

... then realized that I still had a big space. You can't see it in this picture, but its under the pens. I did not want to waste a big space; since this is the flat rate box, it wouldn't be frugal.

So I stopped by CVS on the way home from shopping for swimsuits, and purchased

(14) Ivory Soap - $1.78

At the end of the day, I did not keep it under $20; the total came to $20.05. I count the items I bought on the gift card in this total, since I could have used the card to purchase other necessary items for myself.

In a final effort at frugality, I am trying out the Post Office's pre-paid shipping services. According to the website, I will save $.45 by printing the label myself. According to the postage notice at my post office, I will save $2.45. I am using the large, flat-rate box, so weight is no issue (it comes in at ~9 lbs). This is my first time to try this, so I am hoping that it is as simple as the post office website said that it would be.

Here it is, ready to be sent:

Total Including postage (if pre-paid shipping works): $31.55. Not bad for a month's worth of toiletries and a few extra goodies.

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