Tag Archives: frugal

Surfing the Grocery Shortages

Cans, a victim of 2020

I’m off in the summer, but this year amidst Coronavirus restrictions I feel as busy as ever. One thing that I need to keep on top of is the flow of groceries with all three of us eating at home every day.

In the times before (as my daughter calls pre-COVID life), if you needed something it never crossed your mind that the store would be out of it! Now the oddest things are out of stock.

Paper towels – every time I order them I get a surprise substitution. My last curbside pickup substituted paper towels made from bamboo! I don’t mind these “green” substitutions because they charge me for the cheaper brand I requested.

Canned goods – Did you know there is a shortage of aluminum cans? This article’s headline just sums up 2020, “Oh Great, Now There’s an Aluminum Can Shortage, Too.” If you prefer your beer or soda in a can, you’ll want to get on this. Apparently the issue is the volume of drinks being purchased for the home instead of being served in bars and restaurants. I’m a little nervous for my evening seltzer water habit, and I am picking up extra when they are available.

I try to grab a canned fruit and soup or two each time I have a grocery order; these also can be in short supply.

Pizza – many areas have frozen pizza shortages. I know I have tried to get some Jacks’ Naturally Rising Pizzas since March to no avail. We do have a crust manufacturer in our area and they had some issues with virus spreading in their factory. I imagine having people at home means more demand for pizza. I pick them up when there is a good price.

My husband usually handles our Amazon subscribe and save order, so I have been very good about telling him when I am opening a product from our pantry so he can adjust our order as needed. COVID is fairly high in my state, and I’m not likely to go in person to the store. Since March, I went to Trader Joe’s once, otherwise I do curbside or delivery.

Personally, I try not to let news of shortages send me off buying things we aren’t going to use. There has been a shortage of dried beans, but I rarely use them. Same with yeast… it doesn’t last long, and no sense buying it now when I haven’t made bread in a few years. It’s not a good deal to stock up if you aren’t going to make use of the item in the near future.

What kind of shortages have you experienced where you are? For the longest time we could not find nacho cheese sauce. Then my daughter found a Tik Tok of a family covering their whole dining room table in tortilla chips and making the entire thing nachos. So that’s where all the sauce went!!! See the nacho table for yourself!

Appreciation – A Frugal Habit

This week I have been noticing a positive side-effect of the Coronavirus restrictions on our lives – a greater appreciation and delight in the small things in life.

This week we found new things to do for very little money, things we probably wouldn’t have considered “fun enough” in our fast-paced life before COVID came around.

Mock orange from my shrubs

My daughter and I went to a bakery this week in a rural town outside of our city which is owned by a woman who left the Amish life in her 20s. We had plenty of time to talk in car, and brought home some treats including lemon meringue pie! It was so simple, but it felt good to have a new experience (side note: not too many mask wearers in small towns…)

Tonight I am appreciating being home to be able to pick the kale from my garden and serve it sautéed with sausages for dinner. Far too often we have been guilty of planting seeds, watering, and then going on vacation only to come home to our veg gone to seed. I am delighted to have the time to tend to and enjoy our yard.

Yay, we used our kale!!

We had a great new experience for Father’s Day (early). We did struggle a bit with finding a balance between “fun enough” and “safe.” A number of plans were scrapped because they seemed too complicated with Coronavirus. We ended up having a perfect, simple day, picking up poke bowls and taking them to a magnificent park with views of Lake Michigan. I think we will enjoy variations of this throughout the summer.

Poke in
the park

Another simple joy this week was walking with my mom to her local ice cream shop. We haven’t gotten together inside yet, but this was a fun way to spend some time together.

I know we aren’t the only ones carving out joy in a simpler life. I have seen so many teens and even college students at the local playground, sitting on blankets, shooting hoops, or practicing hitting baseballs. I never even knew these kids lived in our neighborhood and I’m glad to see them outside under conditions that are deemed safe in our state.

Have you discovered or rediscovered simple pleasures as a result of lockdown?

Heart Health Freebie

While reading my grocery store flyer for the week I noticed that Kroger-owned stores are offering a free promotion for February’s Heart Health month. You can schedule a free cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI, and blood pressure screening at your local store. Go online to see if there is a location near you! I scheduled my 15 minute appointment on Valentine’s Day, which I am following up with a trip to the dentist — LOL.

Rolling into February and Saving

The days are ever so slightly lighter in the evening and my friend’s chickens have picked up their egg production — I’m feeling optimistic for spring even if it might be a bit premature!

Saving

  • DH and I just made it under the data limit for our phones last week!  That’s $ 20.00 easy money.  I think I had been off wifi at home for a little while and that does not mix well with Instagram!
  • The last two times I have bought grass fed ground beef on sale at a particular market they have not rung it up at the sale price.  I’m on to them!  I check the price per pound as soon as they pass me the package across the meat counter.
  • I’m taking advantage of the sales on “party foods” for the Super Bowl and cherry-picking some of the loss leaders at local stores.  Frozen pizza isn’t something we eat often, but at 1.99, I’ll take one and be grateful we have it if there is a snow storm or a late meeting at work.
  • My little joy for the week was getting a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Rose soap for $2.90.  I love having a good bar of soap for my bathtub, and it smells so pretty!

Earning

I sold a Keurig machine that we were no longer using on a local mom resale group.  $20.00.  We have gone back to old fashioned Mr. Coffee type of coffee machine.  I am happy to reclaim the counter space.

Investing

When we rolled my Roth IRA over to Vanguard from Ameritrade, DH was careful to maintain our asset allocation so that we wouldn’t fall too heavy into stocks (we already have plenty of stock exposure).  With the Coronavirus affecting China so heavily, this seems like a good move for the short term any way.

Maintaining

In the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” department…..

Got the car in for an oil change/tire rotation.

Cleaned the washing machine with a cleaning tablet.

Budgeting

DH and I will usually go over out budget every Saturday night and see where we ended up for the past week and allocate any unspent money to savings, home repair or vacation.  Those are our budget categories which are always hungry for MORE!

Hope your week was good!

 

 

 

Brrr….Saving This Week

Vintage-Winter-Birds-Image-GraphicsFairy-1024x392It’s been a slow, quiet kind of weekend for us.  Our daughter has been studying for her mid-year final exams.  We also got a pretty decent snowfall Friday into Saturday, which gave us another great reason to stay close to home.

Savings and Earnings this Week…

The Cell Phone Game

We have unlimited data (teenager), but if we stay under 2Gig, we get $10.00 back per phone.  Our daughter blows through that in days, but this month both DH and I are close to losing our our 10.00!!!  We are determined to squeak in below our data limit for the 10.00 each!  Ah, its the little things…

Selling

I sold a doll item for $  10.00 in a mom group on Facebook in my community.  This is a great way to sell things without the hassle of Ebay.  I usually just have a porch pickup, which means they can get the item and leave the money.  If you have toys or kids’ items to sell, see if there is a sales group on Facebook for your area.

Dining at Home

There were many opportunities to eat at home this week – we had pea soup in the freezer that I added chicken and apple sausage to to jazz it up the second time around.  We also had tofu bowls with rice, veg, and marinated, oven baked tofu — it’s an inexpensive, vegetarian meal that is always well received.  I also made steel cut oats and froze them in individual packets in the freezer.

I try to eat dairy-free and wheat free most of the time because I have eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic autoimmune disease.

Staying Healthy

I got an eye exam this week and scheduled some dental work now that we are in a new year for our flexible spending account (money taken out pre-tax for health expenses not covered by insurance).  Every year we use all of the FSA money, so I had been holding off on these two appointments until the new year.  A flexible spending account is a great way to reduce your taxed income, and if you have medical needs, or children with braces or going to physical therapy for injuries (ahem!), you will use that money right up!

Short week ahead for all of us.  We will be staying close to home and celebrating the end of exams by binging on the last episodes of “Cheer” in Netflix once DD is done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Money this Week and Snowmaggedon

How was your week?  We prepared for a big snow event this weekend which kind of fizzled out, but we are enjoying being home, watching football playoffs, and eating the groceries we have instead of going out in search of greener pastures.

Saving this Week

Groceries

I had success this week using my Kroger store’s online ordering/curbside pickup.  Ordering online forces me to be a little more disciplined and think through my meal plan instead of wandering off to the store after work every day.  I can also take advantage of their online coupons which are so much easier to use than the old days of clipping coupons.  This week I saved 31% on my order there, purchasing things we use regularly.  They also gave me a bouquet of flowers which I have been enjoying all weekend.

Medical

Last week I mentioned that our health insurance allows each member two free Teledoc  visits per year.  I tried it! I used the dermatologist for a simple need and I had a response and prescription for a cream within an hour of submitting my request and photos.  No taking off of work, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Investing

DH and I decided to close one of my Roth IRAs which was invested in a variety of funds and individual stocks and consolidate it with Vanguard in a Lifecycle fund.   Simplify.

Planning

This week looks to be a bit busier than last week, so during the evening football game I will get my planner out and make sure I have a solid meal plan for the week.

Earning this Week

I took an extra recess duty shift this week.  I always feel like I’m really sacrificing when I do that!  Hey, I got some free Vitamin D from the winter sun and thankfully no playground concussions or other issues occurred on my watch!

New Years’ What I Did to Save Money

Welcome to 2020! We have had a delightful week with the whole family off work and school, and we used the time for a lot of relaxing, movie watching at home, as well as getting ready for the new year.

Donating and Selling

Our house is small enough that we use every room every day. We went through a few closets and found plenty to donate, share with a neighbor, and some to sell. Sold an American Girl item for $ 10.00 in a mom group.. so much easier than eBay. For us, paying off our house and not moving has been a great way to build savings, so we try to stay satisfied with our home and keep it pleasant to be in.

One of the closets we went through has freed up space so we can better access items we might buy at a good price and store.

Saving on Food

My friends will be traveling this winter so they gave some some terrific food items before they leave. In addition to the items in the picture there is a huge box of Cheerios and some salmon. I need to explore recipes like muffins that use maple syrup, because this is a lot of syrup! Any recommendations?

The morning of Jan 1st I logged into my Kroger grocery store website to load the new digital coupons for the month. At the same time I added items to my cart so I can drive up to pick up my groceries after work. This is one of my favorite months for grocery sales because “healthy” foods are the focus. My daughter loves Special K and it is always on sale in January!

  • Special K Family Size box $1.49
  • Annie’s Box Mac and cheese 2 for .30 cents!

Spending

We are debt free, which affords us some choice about spending our money on things we value. I value having experiences with my family so this week DH and I went out for a date night, which we especially enjoyed after being sick over Christmas. Our teen stayed home and enjoyed her own “Dance Moms” binge on tv.

Any new resolutions or plans for your money in 2020?

Shop the Locker

This post is urgent for those with kids still in school!  Shortly your kids will be cleaning out their locker or cubbie.  You would be shocked at how many school supplies have not been touched!  Most schools put out bins to donate leftover school supplies to the district’s summer school program in addition to big garbage cans right in the hallway.

Here is what we reclaimed (so far!) from my middle school student’s locker:

IMG_0016

The graphing notebook had three pages used.  I know that was expensive.  The unopened Post-It’s are like GOLD… those things are crazy expensive!  The markers are missing fuchsia.  When your kids are little you fear sending then to school with a 10 pack of markers if the teacher asked for 12, but by middle school you are more of a skeptic.  My experience is that most of these supplies are never touched!

Now, if you have an upper elementary/middle school student, a bribe may be necessary to get these supplies back.  In my case, it was a pick up at school and a trip to Starbucks.  Trust me, I am well ahead of the $ 4.55 spent on a Frappucino!

IMG_0017

I always keep a school supply bin available.  In this one you see yet more filler paper and a 10 piece math set which I got for .25 in October.   If you want to be a black-belt school supply saver, keep a list of the supplies for the grade your child will enter the following year and be on the lookout for any odd or expensive items.

I would love to hear about you school supply adventures!

Speaking Up – Part of Frugality

From the children’s book “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin”

One aspect of frugality is determining whether I am getting value for my money.  When a product falls short, I honor my finances by speaking up about it.  Today, it is easier than ever to reach out to companies.

Last week we had a bag of baked chips, and something was not right with them.  Some of the chips were extremely hard – in a break your tooth kind of way (thank goodness no one did!)  Perhaps the “dough” for the chips was rolled too thick, but it certainly delivered a sensation of ‘what’s in my mouth?!’  I wrote to the company using their website contact form and included all pertinent information from the package so they could pinpoint which factory these came from.  They will be mailing me a few free product coupons.

Solving a Mystery

Many years ago we used to purchase Silk soy milk in the shelf stable packaging.  We bought it frequently and starting having problems with it being gloppy.  It wasn’t expired, and it is shelf stable so refrigeration wasn’t a factor.  I wrote to the company.  They were concerned and wanted all of the information they could get.  Of course they also sent coupons for free product.  Some time went by and I received a letter from the company founder, Steve Demos!  He explained they had pinpointed and solved the problem, which had to do with how the package was being affected in shipping.  There were more coupons, and even a $10.00 bill from Mr. Demos’ own pocket!  I thought it was pretty neat that they took a real interest and responded in such a personal way.

Being Fair

I am normally an easy-going person who doesn’t like to make waves, but I know that when I use our money  to purchase something that is completely not acceptable, I honor the effort it takes to earn money by speaking up.  On the flip side, I honor other people’s work by not complaining just to get free stuff.  The consumer always pays in the end, so complaining that your Lucky Charms cereal didn’t have enough “purple hearts and yellow stars” costs us all.

Do you have any great stories about dealing with an unsatisfactory product?

Saving and Homemaking 5/20

Hello frugal friends.  The photo above is a nod to my friend Becky’s blog, who featured almost the same photo this week.  Great minds and all!

Saving

  • A local grocer had 20% off all fresh and packaged meat, sausages, bacon etc.  I don’t buy a lot of meat, but I did get some items for upcoming cookouts and ground turkey for spaghetti which I cooked and froze for a later date.
  • Got a free bag of candy from my grocery store’s item of the week and redeemed a coupon the store mailed me for a free bag of chocolate chips.
  • Received a coupon from Walgreens for 20X points on in their Balance Rewards program.  Used that on some of the good deals at Walgreens this past week including free M&Ms, canned almonds — 2 cans for 3.00 after coupon, and flour 1.99.  I am close to earning a $10.00 reward from Walgreens.
  • Received free Taste of Home magazines from my local village’s Nextdoor private online community. I hope my daughter and I can make some recipes from them this summer.

I have about 40 new to me magazines!

Cooking

  • Daughter baked Toll House cookie bars for her Dad to take as a birthday treat to work. His office is large and bringing a treat from a store gets expensive.  People asked for the recipe!  I had to “LOL” because it’s just the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips.
  • We ate at home most nights but also took advantage of a BOGO at Noodles and a birthday coupon for a date night dinner out.

    Trillium

Free Fun

  • Went hiking at a nature preserve for birthday/Mother’s Day.  We were treated to seeing thousands of trillium in bloom.  In many states and provinces it is illegal to damage trillium because they do not recover if damaged.  We have a few trillium in our back lot, but I have never seen them in this quantity.
  • The whole family volunteered at our church’s service day.  It was an early morning but we enjoyed coffee and snacks before starting. DD and I worked on the Operation Christmas Child initiative while my husband worked a plant sale to raise money for Tanzanian scholarships at the university level.

Hope your week was nice and you are recharging for the week ahead!