March 2010 - Posts - Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller
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Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller

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March 2010 - Posts

  • Getting Groceries is only part of the Game

    Recently, I opted to try the free four week trial of The Grocery Game. It has been an experience to say the least! Some of it has been good, some, not so good. This entry is my assessment of the Game as a whole, the pros and the cons and some examples.

    As a whole, the set up has saved me some money (see some cons though) and has many conveniences to bringing some savings to mind that I may have missed. About a year ago (way before our downsize adventure) I looked into the Grocery Game and found they did not have info for the store that was closest to us, when we were in the boonies. Since moving to our tiny spot in the suburbs, there are more store options.

     Much of the 'work' of lining up sales with coupons is done for you - so that is a big draw to save even more if you are already a coupon clipper (which I've not been for years, but have started since moving and downsizing, more on the topic of coupon clipping in the cons list).

    Another good thing about this is the chance to refer others for potential free weeks. At the cost (one store $10 for 8 weeks of coupons, cost of newspaper for coupons, etc.)

    Pros:

    • Coupons paired with items that are on sale in the automatic system = greater savings
    • Printable coupons at your fingertips
    • Price breakdowns (usually accurate but may vary from store to store location)
    • I've saved between $4-$12 a week the past four weeks. Yet, I'm not sure it's on items I'd normally use..... 

    Cons:

    • Filing/dating coupon flyers for what looks like up to at least 6 months or more!
    • Having to leaf through the designated weeks to FIND items every time.
    • Not all coupons are available in the store or newspaper every time
    • Instructions. Acronyms. Steps.... Too confusing in the beginning. Still not sure I'm getting all I can get.
    • The 'List' is long and often not items we actually need or regularly use.
    • It is not organized like my store isles (the way my own shopping list is). So I waste time retracing my steps in the store.
    • The 'List' from the Grocery Game is out (in our area) 4 days AFTER the weekly sales have begun which makes some items out of stock and less shopping days of the sale.
    • I would not call this a time-saver. If time is money, then it is a bit of a waster.
    • I've not been so 'tense' about shopping....ever before.
    • The temptation to buy a name brand because the savings seems so good, when a store brand is already cheaper.*
    • The temptation to buy/eat things that we normally would not eat, just because the date of sale + coupon is running out.*

    *Frankly, these two 'cons' are my biggest beef with the Grocery Game. We don't eat processed foods, boxed meals, TV dinners or convenience foods. The temptation is though, to buy them: if you see a box of granola bars on sale for almost 90% off. It SOUNDS good right? But if I made them myself (which I do) the price doesn't just SOUND good, the FOOD IS GOOD FOR US comparatively! Brand named peanuts may be noted at 50 cents off on sale, plus a 50 cent coupon, but the store brand is already $1.25 cheaper...so why did I just waste time finding that coupon, clipping it out and then thinking about/debating which brand to buy in the store?

    We really don't eat the Standard American Diet. Most foods with the better sales prices on the 'List' are however, typically a SAD item. Yes, I know, that is both an acronym AND a word...think about it....

    My assessment as a whole is that The Grocery Game could be a useful tool. The jury is still out for me. We'll see if I can tackle and overcome some of the 'cons' mentioned above. I'm giving it a limit of 8 more weeks  to see for sure if I think it's worth it ($10.00 is the total amount I am willing to invest to find out).

    If you Google it and go to The Grocery Game after reading my review (even if it's just for the free trial - mark your calendar) please put in my personal email address ( dnurkle (at) yahoo (dot) com ) as your referral person - and you can refer others (which gives you free weeks)...just let them also read this blog to know what they may be getting into. (o:

    I'll update the blog later with my final findings! I'd love to hear how you like it, or see it, or don't like it after you check it out. Please leave a comment.

    Best (Grocery Shopping) Blessings!

    It's much more than a game to me.....

    Donna Miller

    The Millers own and operate Millers Grain House which offers Chemical Free and Organic Grains, Grain Mills, Bread Machines,Grain buckets, Bosch Mixers, the NutriMill, instructional tutorials, recipes and more.

  • Doing 'without' can do a lot 'within'.

    While going through this downsizing journey, we have learned to do 'without' many things we didn't think we could do without before. 

    • We are sharing vehicles (not that we didn't before, just more of us are sharing one than before).
    • We have sold off many items that we felt were important that we've found we can live without.
    • We do without space that we thought we needed before
    • We have done without a couch for over two months.
    • We have done without a second television.
    • We have done without video games

    There are many more of the 'frills' of life that we have learned to 'do without' and have been surprise, pleasantly, that we are fine without them.

    But we did get a couch this week after not having one for almost 2 months! Actually, we got a couch, a coffee table (to prop up feet) a rug, a side chair, and four chairs for a dinette set all for less than $160.00!! 

    All are used and worn, none of them match but  the money goes to a good cause (the charities of the thrift store)- so we were thrilled!!!

    Also doing 'without' completely has made us appreciate things we normally take for granted.

    This couch as 'ratty' as it may look to  some people, might as well have been a top of the line, brand new sectional for how happy we were to have a comfortable place to sit together.

    Gratitude can flow easier when there's less in the way.

    Best Blessings!

    Donna Miller

    The Millers own and operate Millers Grain House which offers Chemical Free and Organic Grains, Grain Mills, Bread Machines,Grain buckets, Bosch Mixers, the NutriMill, instructional tutorials, recipes and more.

     

  • The Plus Side of Downsizing.

    "Downsizing" is kind of the buzz-word of the new economy. Although it is a new popular term and to some a negative one, there is a plus side to all this downsizing that I just can't help but think needs to be brought to light. Recently, we have done our second and third phase of downsizing. So, if you don't mind, let me share with you some of the interesting 'plusses' I've found out this last month after some major downsizing.

    Plus #1 - Less stuff means less mess! No, really. Sounds too simplistic doesn’t it? Freedom from extra junk is really quite nice.

     

    Plus #2 - Others need my extra stuff more than I do. It is a blessing to know that if we didn't sell it (which was cheaper to someone than buying it new) or we gave it away (to avoid the cost of moving it/ and due to lack of space in the new smaller place) someone else is being blessed with our previous items.

     

    Plus #3 - Smaller homes clean much faster!  I am not kidding! I can clean this 900 square foot little cottage in no time flat! I don't mean just tidy up a bit, I mean all the way from dusting, sweeping, mopping it all (all hardwood floors), dishes away, the one bathroom (tub/toilet/counter/mop) and kitchen scrubbed to completion. If someone pitches in to help it's done in about 10 minutes! SWEET!

     

    Plus #4 - No more Electricity bill Shock! In our old home, our winter bill averaged $385.00 a month - while using a fireplace. This had more to do with the lack good heating and poor insulation than anything. In our new downsized place, I got the bill yesterday (drum-roll please) $60! That is with daily heat running all month!

     

    Plus #5 - Limited space and limited stuff means better organization!  This I like. Putting things away in the kitchen (which is about 1/16 of the size of my previous one) requires a 'Jenga' type configuration - but there is less to put away. Any one thing out of it's place upsets the delicate balance of storage. So everyone is careful to put things where they go.

     

    Plus #6 - Even the littlest mess shows up fast in a smaller place - yes that's a good thing......because in tight quarters, more people notice that and rather than pass it due to the space to skirt around it, the mess gets addressed. (o: 

     

    Even though the term 'downsizing' may sound like you're losing something, it is not at all accurate. Downsizing helps you notice and appreciate the small things. (o:

     

    Hope you will enJOY the journey!

    Best Blessings!

     

    Donna

     

    Donna Miller is an author, teacher and entrepreneur. Her favorite roles are that of wife and mother to three home-school graduates. Living with a Homesteading Mindset in the country, the city and suburbs has been an adventure! The Millers own and operate Millers Grain House  which offers Organic and Chemical-free Whole Grains, Bosch Mixers, the NutriMill, instructional tutorials, recipes and more. Listen to her Radio Show – Live or Archived at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/millersgrainhouse 

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