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Monday, November 14, 2016

Once A Month Grocery Shopping - Mental Adjustment Required

Wow, not shopping is very weird! I used to go to the store several times per week, once for our main grocery shop for the week, and one or two quick trips to pick up a needed item and usually an impulse purchase or two would be included, and then maybe a few trips out for other things I wanted, a book, a pair of shoes, gifts, you get the drift. Suddenly I have a lot more time on my hands, and it is entirely due to NOT going shopping. It is unbelievable, I never realized how much time all those "quick" trips out were using, not to mention adding mileage to our vehicle and burning up gas. This is icing on the cake, the cake being the money we are now not spending and are truly saving.

So, the above all sounds good? What's not to like? Saving money like crazy, having lots of extra free time, both are nice perks of being frugal.

Now, the odd side, I won't say down side, because it is early days and I think I am in the process of a mental adjustment :). The odd side is the extreme withdrawal from going to the store, it has taken me by surprise, completely by surprise. It is shocking how many times a day I think about going to the store, and all day long items keep coming to mind; we need this, we need that, maybe just go and pick up two items that isn't really shopping, well you get the drift.  The thing is, these thoughts are beginning to drive me nutty, I never considered myself a shopper, a person whose hobby is literally shopping, after all my shopping was necessary, mainly groceries or things we "needed", oh, boy it is so easy to justify our behaviors.  I have to assume that shopping for me was way beyond the hobby stage, in hindsight it must have been my lifestyle, and that is a truly bizarre revelation to me. This seems the most rational explanation for my extreme withdrawal.

I am absolutely positive I will pass through the withdrawal stage just fine, a mantra I like is, "train to refrain...", I just add whatever negative thing is going on at that moment to the end.  For example when I run, for some reason, always around the beginning of mile four my body wants to stop, so in my head I start staying, "train to refrain from quitting", and I say it over and over and suddenly realize I am now into mile five and doing just fine.  Losing weight, it is difficult to stay in control, sometimes I am very tempted, but when I feel tempted I say, "train to refrain from over eating", and now I am saying, "train to refrain from shopping". Quitting the shopping habit is a lot like doing a long distance run, or losing a lot of weight and then maintaining the weight loss, you MUST stay focused on the end result.

It is November 14, I have made one shopping trip for groceries since October 21, and if I am careful with our supplies I will not need to grocery shop again until December arrives. I have gone into a store three times this month, once to pick up a birthday gift ordered online and if I did in-store pick up I did not have to pay shipping. Once to purchase another birthday gift, and once to grocery shop. The time between grocery shopping on October 21 and my next trip on November 10 is the longest  time I believe I have EVER gone in my adult life between food shop trips. And, I live to tell the tale, we did not starve and ate nutritious meals. I plan to go three weeks this time and hopefully at least that the following time. December will have some shopping as I have Christmas gifts to purchase for grand children and will have a few additional treats on the grocery list for Christmas day dinner. Our checking and saving accounts are much healthier after one month, and I am excited to see where we will be in three months, six months, the rewards have been so immediate it is highly motivating.

I am glad we decided to make this change, it is challenging in a good way. I think about what food supplies we have, what meals I can make, what will make good left overs, what is the most economical way to cook something to make it stretch yet still be nutritious and enjoyable. I way underestimated the number of eggs we use, but seem to have estimated everything else fairly well.  I find myself making lots of little decisions throughout the day about food preparation tempered with the reality that I am not going to grocery shop until December 1 at the earliest. I want to add that the idea with shopping once per month is to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on food, and staying out of the store eliminates temptation and impulse buying.  We used to spend about $110/week on food, add to that non-food items such as pet food, toilet paper, personal hygiene, dish detergent, and impulse purchase the $110 could quickly become $150 or more. So far this month I have spent $164.44, this includes all food for the rest of the month including some extras for Thanksgiving, like the turkey, and pet food. We are pretty well set on personal hygiene items and toilet paper. I spent $19 on the additional birthday gift. Right off the bat we will not have spent the usual $500 or so we usually spend on groceries/household, but instead about $165, that is an  additional $340 or so dollars staying in the bank, not to mention the elimination of other shopping trips that increase that $340 this month. Will each month be this good, I think they will get better, because along with the savings we have made, we have become more disciplined with regular savings this year, and we will pay off a medical bill this month, which will then allow us to focus on paying off the money we borrowed to do our roof this past spring. Because we have freed up money from shopping we have more to apply to payments and the roof will be paid in full in a few more months and then we will have no debt. An additional boost to money save, we decided to drop our DISH tv, saving $106/month, we have had cable for most of our married life, we will celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month. The decision was easy, we realized we never watched DISH, we watch one local channel some evenings, and otherwise watch Netflix or YouTube, we decided we were ready to cancel and so we did.

The main challenge is not getting bored, there are plenty of free things to do, but it can still feel limited at times. I have done a lot of things around the house, and outside, but sometimes feel restless. I get out and walk or run for an hour each day, I stay busy knitting or sewing, doing chores around the house, but sometimes I just want to go do something, anything. I can go run or walk at a park, go to the library, go for a drive, go to church. But it seems to me the primary entertainment available to us all and one that we all partake in is shopping and going out to eat. Although we rarely go out to eat, it is something to do, and it is enjoyable. So some of the challenge is finding other ways to occupy ourselves that do not involve spending money.

So in summary, although a significant mental adjustment is required to change shopping habits and careless spending, it is possible, and the benefits are very rewarding.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Being Frugal and a Few Other Things

Frugal Living

We were pretty frugal people, but since our babies flew the nest, and it is just Dave and I we became less disciplined about our spending. I stopped making laundry soap and started to buy laundry detergent and fabric softener every few weeks, I purchased a lot of convenience snacks for the grand children, I started buying bread, and just became lazy about the garden. Well after a while I got tired of spending money on laundry detergent, it is expensive even when buying the bargain brand, and it always seems that more needs to be purchased. So, I went back to making laundry soap, I spent $6 and have enough ingredients to make detergent for a year!  And, a batch of homemade laundry soap lasts almost a month for us, I can live with spending fifty cents a month for laundry soap and taking fifteen minutes once a month to make it.
I don't even know why we sort of stopped making bread, I guess convenience, and when I have seven grand children here for lunch we go through a lot of bread, and they love toast for a snack. But the cheap white bread from the store is pretty dreadful, nothing at all like homemade. So, I am back to baking all of our bread, ten loaves every two weeks doesn't take much time, and I can make it for so much less than a cheap loaf of store bought. And once a month I bake a large batch of cookies, bag them up and pop them into the freezer and dole them out to grandchildren as needed, much less expensive than buying a bunch of overpriced snacks and having tons of packaging to throw away.
Hanging laundry out to dry, why not, I just got lazy, and with only two of us we really don't do many loads a week so I got into the habit of using the dryer again.
Going to the store WAY too frequently, my goal now is to grocery shop twice a month, rather than average two trips per week to the store. The last time I purchased groceries was October 28, I will need to go this weekend as we are running quite low on supplies.
Gardening, last summer I did not have time, this summer I had more time but the garden was not a priority. Today I went out and gleaned the last of the produce, I have several nice green peppers, a few dozen beets, a few heads of broccoli, and the chickens have a lot of greens to enjoy.
Not quite Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, but the emptiest the pantry has been in years!
I am good at finding deals at the store, and I will only buy meat/poultry that is reduced for quick sale, BUT only if it is something we will actually eat.  On Monday I roasted a whole chicken, it was just shy of six pounds and I purchased it on mark down for $4.31. The roasted chicken, along with some mashed potato, stuffing, corn, and gravy, fed 7 children, and three adults on Monday evening, the left overs Dave ate for dinner on Tuesday. I boiled the chicken remains and made two quarts of broth. The broth will be lovely for making gravy for future meals, or a base for soup, etc. etc. The total cost of the meal prepared was around $8.50, which is a very good deal for all of the people it fed.

Latest Project

In my last post I mentioned deciding what to do for my next project. I have decided to knit up bunch of yarn that is taking up space in my sewing room. I am knitting blocks and will sew them together to make a cozy throw blanket.

Latest Read

I am reading a book by Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys, so far so good. Earlier this year I read another Neil Gaiman book for book club, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it was excellent, I highly recommend it. Neil Gaiman books are a bit other worldly, magical, yet set in a real enough world to make you believe, I like that it is so easy to disappear into the story, pure escapism.

Well I think that is all for now. We are still enjoying a most beautiful November. I put all of the garden furniture away today, and brought in my geraniums for the winter. Now downstairs for lunch, a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers, and a nice mug of tea and then out for brisk walk.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Beautiful Day

We live in northeast Indiana, it is November, and it is sixty outside, sun shining brightly, a light breeze, the drone of lawn mover, it is a spectacularly beautiful day. It does not feel at all like November. And, we have an extra hour today, due to the time change.

This morning we had a bit of a sleep in, then went to Mass. When we returned home we had a quick tidy up, then Dave headed out to finish the mowing, and I went off for a walk. I am glad we both had an opportunity to get outside for a good while and enjoy the beautiful day.

Yesterday I finished a little blue cardigan for our soon to be born grandson. The knitting pattern was easy to follow and I am pleased with the finished product.

In my last post I mentioned reading some books by Martina Cole, I read a ways into the first book and then decided I didn't want to go further. The book is well written, but the storyline just isn't my cup of tea. I read to escape and stories with a lot of violence, mobster type activity, I can't get into. I would rate the author quite highly, because the writing is good, the plot and character development is good, I am just not into the genre.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am keeping busy with lots of little projects to keep myself sane! Right now I have finished a project, the little blue cardigan, and I need to figure out quickly what my next project should be.  I like my projects to have a purpose, such as making a baby quilt for a gift, knitting something for myself or a grandchild, sewing a shirt for my husband, I don't like to work on something just to work on something.
I have a couple of ideas, I want to make a quilted wall hanging, and in my mind I am picturing something kind of Dr. Who-ish, for sure a tardis, and possibly a darlek, and striped border reminiscent of the long scarf Tom Baker wore when he played the Dr. in the early 1970's. But, I am not sure I am ready to start this project, it is in the "swirling in my mind" phase, I sort of see what I want, but the idea is not yet clear enough.
Another project I have is one I started years ago, and then set it to one side and forgot about until I came across it when I was having a bit of a sort out.  The project is an English pieced quilt made by hand stitching together hexagons. This style of quilt is a good way to use up lots of left over bits of material, and it is a very portable project as it is entirely done by hand.
So, I need to decide if I am going to do one of  the above mentioned projects or come up with something entirely different. It is important to me to keep the cost of my projects as low as absolutely possible, I always try to work with what I already have, and I save all my scrap material for future projects, and at times I have been quite creative to avoid having to put more money into a project.

Well I am off now to enjoy the beautiful day.

Peace be with you,