Sunday, January 18, 2009

How not to be frugal

Lesson learned the hard way.  I'm not sure how it works for you, but tonight I discovered why I should not take my husband shopping.  The last time we went together was over a year ago, when I first embarked on my frugal journey.  I've had a year of training in frugality, he hasn't.  He simply impulse buys whatever he wants! It really disturbs me to watch someone pay full price (especially when I share the wallet).
Let me back up...
This week has been a week of reading frugal cookbooks, and frugal living books.  It's not like basic training for me since I've been doing this for a while, but I am honing my skills in preparation for the worsening economy.  I truly do believe that it is going to get much worse.  There's one thing that I have learned, and that is that you have to actually USE what you stockpile, otherwise frugality is an exercise in futility. We've spent the past two weeks eating from the pantry and freezer, just as we always do twice a year in January and July. Notice that our yearly cleanouts come at times when pinching a penny helps (right after the holidays and again at curriculum purchase time). We could probably eat from the stockpile for another week or two if necessary, but I fear that it's becoming tiresome for my crew. Now it is time to stock up again!
Normally, I am not a warehouse club shopper.  The $40 yearly membership is too steep to recoup for what we actually BUY there.  Not all of their prices are so wonderful!  However, Sams Club is running a deal through January 21st: if you purchase an annual personal or business membership for $40 ($35 for businesses), you get a $25 Sams gift card on the spot! That makes a year of membership only $10 or $15.  Definitely worth it!
Be have to have discipline to shop at Sam's, and you have to know your prices to really know if you are getting the best deal.  An impulse buy at the regular grocer may cost you $2 per item. At a warehouse, impulsivity may cost you $8-$10 or more per item!
Here are some good buys at Sam's, based on what we actually use a lot of and price comparison at Publix and Aldi:
  • Nearly all of their spices are majorly discounted.  For instance, 20 ounces of onion powder for $3.48 (I use this as a base in nearly all of my homemade mixes for taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning and homemade Shake N' Bake).
  • Pure Vanilla (not imitation!) 16 ounces for $6.67. I go through a lot of vanilla!
  • Mrs. Butterworth's Syrup, one gallon for $6.34.
  • Trash bags, 13 gallon with drawstring, 150 for $8.86.
  • Butter, $1.94 pound
  • Mozarella Cheese, 5 pounds for $10.87.  I shred this into 2 cup portions and freeze.
  • American Cheese, 160 slices for $11.28.  Yes, this'll last a while!
  • Basmati Rice (the only brand/type we like) 15 pounds for $16.77. Not the cheapest TYPE of rice, but we do eat only this kind.  It doesn't get mushy and we use it as a base for fried rice often.
  • Organic Raw Spinach, huge tub for $3.84.  We'll munch on it raw for a few days, in salads, then cook what's left in chicken broth with the Basmati Rice and a handful of shredded cheddar!  Yummy side dish!
  • Cream Cheese, 3 pounds for $6.67.
As you can see, the dairy products are a terrific deal.  Cheese rarely goes on sale, and when it does, you still can't beat the price of Sams.  Hard cheeses freeze well when shredded. I have a Salad Shooter gadget which can quickly shred mounds and mounds of cheese.
Happy stockpiling...and remember to be truly frugal, leave the family at home!