The Concrete Serengeti ~ Part 1 on Frugal Mealtimes

Today at graftedvine we are going to observe the lioness as she stalks her prey.

As of late there has been a scarcity of food, and increase in hunting parties, crowding into her domain. She has to always be on guard.

Alas she see her prey! She stealthily moves on  padded feet careful not to draw attention to herself.

Then she waits for that opportune moment, settling her weight on her haunches. Muscles tightly coiled ready to spring into action.

That moment comes and in her full glory she pounces on her prey!

Satisfaction wells up within her as she carries her prize back to her cubs.

So does that happen in real life? Sure it does! The main thing missing is the lioness doesn’t hunt alone.  If you’ve ever watched a hunt, they always travel in a pack! Right now the headlines are trumpeting the drought that is happening in the US. The economists are saying that we are going to start feeling the effects of the drought in our wallets and our bellies. Have you started to feel that yet? Today we venture into the concrete Serengeti to try to figure out ways to effectively save money, while getting the most nutrition for our $$.

1. Coupons– well duh! Grafted you are a little behind the times here, super couponing has been the rage for a few years now! Or then I get the other side….well we only eat organic foods. Did you know that most organic companies have coupons on their website? Check it out! I love getting coupons from Applegate and other brands. The down side to couponing is that you can actually spend more with coupons if you aren’t careful….whoa…whoa! Wait a minute here! Back up the crazy train! Spend more using coupons? The whole point of coupons is to SAVE money. Well stop for a minute and look at that coupon that you just clipped for the razzle dazzle cereal. If you didn’t have the coupon would you have bought that cereal anyway? No? With the coupon is it cheaper than what you would normally buy?  I think as consumers, especially here in the states we are sometimes  make that a lot of times sucked in by the idea of getting a deal that we don’t stop to really think about the big picture.

2. Shop only the perimeter of the store.  You’ve probably heard this before, but the food on the perimeter of the store is a lot healthier for you. All that stuff in the middle? Cheap convenience food, which when you get right down to it, is not cheap. Say what?!?! You heard me, it isn’t cheap! If the vast majority of the world is able to live with out that food, and live healthy lives, can’t you? Yes it is yummy, but most of that stuff is full of non food items. Powdered coffee creamer…silicone with your coffee anyone? Um, no thanks I’ll pass! Most of the stuff you find in boxes or cans are filled with fillers. When you take out all those fillers and preservatives, there isn’t much left. So the whole crux of the matter is you are actually spending more money, while being led to believe that you are spending less. True there are exemptions to the rule i.e. rice, beans, canned tomatoes, rolled oats, nut butters. No I am not listing broth, cereal, or other canned veggies.

3. Manager Specials. So how else can you save by shopping the perimeter of the store? Most supermarkets have mark down bins/ shelves on the outside. Apples for $0.29/ lb? $0.99 for 4 LARGE russet potatoes, etc. Typically there is nothing wrong with these items. I spoke to the produce manager at my store, he said that there may be 1 bad or bruised apple in the bag. They can’t sell it that way, so they remove the 1 apple, repackage it and sell the rest for $0.99. So that bag of apples that way $1.99+ is now half price because of 1 apple. I’ve gotten bags of clementines for more than half off because the skin was slightly mottled. The fruit was still perfectly good, it just didn’t LOOK pretty. Of course you have the meat markdowns and markdowns in the milk and cheese section. Did you know that you can freeze all that stuff? Ask your manager when they do the markdowns, they’ll be happy to tell you what day they mark stuff down. After all they’d rather sell the stuff at a lower price than to have to chuck it, making no money at all. It economics people….supply and demand! I personally love the scratch and dent section at our local grocery store!

4. Bulk buy, but only when it makes sense! So you were hunting for those elusive mark downs that I was telling you about. Uh huh! Caught you, you savvy shopper you! On your hunt you found several bags of onions marked down to an irresistible price. What’s a savvy shopper to do? You know that you can’t use them all up right away, so what’s a girl to do? Well if you have freezer space available that is one option, depending on the produce you could can the item. Or even do it the old fashion way and ferment it. When in doubt it is better to pass up any items that you can’t reasonably use before they go bad. After all, it wasn’t much of a deal if you have to throw the food away.

Up next….getting cultured! Great DIY foods that you can make at home and save $!

Making Progress~ Baby Step 1 complete!

So after starting Financial Peace University at home in the beginning of December we have met our $1000.00 emergency fund! Woot Woot! Time to cancel all those credit cards! Wait already done~ well except 1 card, hubby needs to call that one in. Either way, the cards are still gone.  It is sooooo freeing to not even have the temptation anymore. Buh-Bye Mastercard….you will not be my master anymore!

On the debt front we are working on baby step #2 The Debt Snowball. I paid off 2 medical bills today (high-five!) and we’re working on the next one. We started off with a total of 7 creditors and $45k in debt. This is credit card, student loans, and medical. We are now down to 5 creditors 🙂 Yippee! The goal is to by the end of January be down to 4 and by tax return time be down to 3.

Littlest Fruit

However there is a slight glitch in the plan…..littlest fruit has to go see a neurologist soon. She has been recently having a few issues caused by something that happened at birth. It is no big deal as far as her health goes. Everything will be fine and the problem should be treat-able. Now we are staring down another medical bill that we didn’t know was coming. Her umbilical cord was too tight against her spine as she came out  which we were told could cause a pinched nerve. It doesn’t always happen and just to keep an eye on her. A few days before Christmas we started noticing a few of the signs that they told us to watch for. Unfortunately hubby’s medical insurance has a LARGE deductible that has to be met before they will pay even 80%. Given that he also just got a smallish raise, we have decided to have that amount put into our HSA pre-tax to help cover any new medical expenses.

This is disheartening on so many levels. I want my baby to be healthy and whole. We were relieved as she was hitting developmental milestones without a problem and even a few early. I am so thankful that we caught this problem right away and that it shouldn’t (other than financially) be a problem to correct. It is also frustrating on another level to feel like we are getting somewhere with this debt only to have more future bills that are going to delay our goals. Don’t get me wrong I will pay ANYTHING to help my baby or any of my other kids. My top priority is their health, education, and happiness. I also recognize that this is also our fault for not putting more into our HSA to begin with. My mentality is that in general we have a very healthy family so what was being put in the account would have been sufficient. Aside from the occasional ear infection, we don’t need to go to the doctor unless I’m pregnant. We have been praying asking the Lord to show us things we can sell or ways to make extra money so we can stay on track with our goals and  be able to pay off the new medical bills is full when we receive them. Our God is faithful and I believe that since we are acting in accordance to His will, in regards to paying our debt, that He will provide a way! We would appreciate prayers in this as well!