Category Archives: Saving Money

Broke my Bling

A few months ago while I was unloading the dishwasher I felt something go wrong with my engagement ring, and found that the diamond had come out of the setting and the prongs were bent and broken.

Thankfully I found the diamond, and I put the ring and diamond in a Ziploc until I could deal with it. I couldn’t fault the ring… it is over 25 years old and has withstood countless dings and mishaps; however, I knew it was going to be an expensive repair, and I wasn’t looking forward to spending the money.  Then again, keeping a loose diamond in a lunch baggie isn’t a wise decision either.

I don’t have a “jeweler.”  These days my main jewels are from Charming Charlie, averaging about $7.00!  I broke down last week, though, and took the ring to a small business jeweler.  The gold prongs had to be rebuilt… $200!

Purchases like this can be hard for me.  It’s a lot of money and not an urgent purchase.  I consoled myself with the fact that if I lost the diamond or tossed the Ziploc bag out, I would really be upset.  I also reminded myself that a $200 tune up on an engagement ring is nothing compared to the cost of a divorce.

I have my ring back, and it looks amazing because they also buffed out the dings in the band.  I think I have mentally recovered from the $200 expenditure.  Do you have areas where you find it hard to spend money?

Side note: back when we got engaged the ring cost $900 and we had to take out a payment plan for it.  Some people upgrade their rings, but I like this memory of being poor young people just starting out.

 

 

My Kingdom… for Some Broccoli

vegiscabbage-graphicsfairy009Last week I read “The War the Saved My Life”, a historical fiction book by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley set in Kent, England, during World War II. The book gave me a deeper understanding of the dire situation facing a country cut off from their food supply. During WWII, German submarines circled the waters around England.

This was a big problem . . .  because England didn’t grow enough food.  Most of the food that English people ate was shipped in from other countries (p. 164)

The book reminded me of the current precarious relationship between the US and Mexico over “The Wall”, and also concerns about deportation of migrant workers who farm and pick produce all over the United States.  Prices of meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit can all be impacted by the current political climate.  Even staffing levels at US/Mexico border crossings affect the price of produce as it travels to el Norte.

We had to queue for groceries every day now.  Meat was on ration and a lot of other things were hard to find.  Onions were so scarce they might as well have been solid gold.  No one had realized that all England’s onions were imported until they couldn’t be imported anymore, and onions took a long time to grow from seed (p. 248).

I found myself thinking about how temporary or long-term weather pattern changes can also affect food availability.  April has been a rough month for produce.  Have you seen the broccoli prices?  I am seeing $3.40/pound for broccoli crowns and $2.60 for broccoli with stalks.  Avocados were affected a few months ago by Mexican labor issues and weather.  All California lettuces are currently considered “extreme shortage” right now due to growing conditions.

Could weather, global warming, or political instability affect our food supply to the extent experienced during WWII?  I sure hope not, but the book made me understand how rapidly things can change.

Have you changed your produce buying habits due to the current supply issues from flooding in California?  I plan to plant some snap peas soon because they are Ok to start in cold weather and mature rapidly.  I have my herbs started inside, and the other veg seeds will have to wait until we are frost-free.  I am looking for some better-priced frozen options for berries and broccoli.  I can live without romaine and red leaf lettuces, because mixed greens and spinach that are grown in greenhouses remain at a lower price.  Broccoli was always my “go-to” vegetable for dinner, so the high prices are causing me to try out some other options.

 

Involuntary Simplicity?

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Mr. Saver Pays a Visit to the Food Truck

How would you feel about avocados being a rare seasonal treat?  Would your trip to Chipotle be complete without that glob of guac on top?  On my mind this week are thoughts about how changes in national (US) policy might affect my family.

Deportation of migrant workers, many of whom have falsified work papers (I didn’t know they were fake!), would immediately affect the prices of fresh food, most of which comes from California’s Central Valley.  Farmers hope their existing work force could be legalized, or that temporary work visas might be available to agricultural workers.  These low paying jobs are back-breaking and difficult to fill with US citizens, who can go work easier jobs for 10.00 an hour.  (For more background on this, read this article.). Crops need to be picked when they need to be picked and if labor is deported, millions of dollars of crops would be lost.

Rising fresh food prices could necessitate home gardens, canning, and buying local/seasonal.  Kind of a throwback to the ’40s  — before strawberries were available fresh year round.

The other piece of the food price puzzle is whether the government places trade restrictions and taxes on imported goods (say to pay for building a big wall), and importing fresh food like avocados and strawberries from places like Mexico quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Honestly, if the US sufficiently aggravates other countries, they may not buy goods from our farmers, who are barely hanging on as it is.  This could drive up subsidies which we pay for as taxpayers.

Changes in the cost of items can happen rapidly, as we have experienced occasionally with lettuce, citrus, and recently avocados due to things like weather and labor strikes.   What would your diet and budget look like if food prices increased?  Do you have a means to take advantage of food in season through canning or freezing?

Personally, I’m not ready to start stockpiling 5 pound cans of green beans, but it does get my mind turning about gardening and what we might grow that we will use and won’t be eaten by rabbits.  I have canned jam but never anything for food preservation; I do think this is a useful skill to have.

Do you think the scenarios above are possible?  Probable?   Canadian friends… where do you get your fresh produce from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day = Savings + Summer

july+4th+vintage+graphicsfairy009aMemorial Day weekend nears… in the US, this holiday commemorates those who have died serving our country while in the armed forces.  It is also the “unofficial” start of summer, with schools finishing up and warm weather beginning.

Memorial Day is also a great time to take advantage of grocery savings!  Last year we hosted a family reunion which required us to buy large amounts of soda and beer.  The prices we found at Memorial Day were the best we saw that summer.  If you have a family event this summer, or a block party, this a great week to check your grocery fliers for prices.

I went through the refrigerator yesterday and checked the dates on cookout essentials, like BBQ sauce, ketchup and other condiments.  I know there will be sales on these items, as well as hot dogs, beans, and chips.

My grocery ads come out tomorrow, so I am eager to see what items will be worth picking up.  The next opportunity for low prices will be the 4th of July.

Often on holiday weekends we have found there are special promotions on Ebates for retailers like Target, Lands End, and WalMart.  Great time to catch a good deal if a new swimsuit, wedding gift, or Father’s Day gift is on your horizon.  My daughter is lobbying for a hammock!

If you see special promotions and prices this Memorial Day, please share!  Do you have any holiday shopping strategies?

 

 

 

Amazon – Saving the Lazy Way

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Scholastic Image

“Necessity never made a good bargain” – who else, but Ben Franklin

Mr. Saver is the guru of all things Amazon.com, and recently he had quite a rewarding, pat-on-the-back experience that made us both glad he is such a diligent planner.

Some time ago, our carbon monoxide detector reached its “end of life” and started to make a unique chime every 60 seconds.  After replacing the unit, he thought that some of our other fire/CO detectors could also be hitting that milestone (if you are a new homeowner, a distinctive chime may mean “end of life” – check the back of the device.  They last 5-10 years).  He shopped Amazon for the latest and greatest and placed some units on his “wish list.”  He checks the wishlist frequently and noticed one day that the price had dropped quite a lot.  He pounced, knowing we could pay for this from our home maintenance fund.

Just this weekend one of the devices in the basement started making a unique chime (and isn’t it fun to try to figure out which one it is?)  He had recently changed batteries, so end of life was the reason for the chime.  He pulled out his new unit, bought leisurely and at a low price, and proceeded to earn that pat-on-the-back.

If you anticipate a purchase in the months to come (back to school?  Christmas?), why not start watching for low prices now?

For Mr. Saver’s other Amazon tips, including a full analysis of saving with Subscribe and Save, go here!

 

Feeling Accomplished

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Pretty Blossoms Before Rainy Day

I started my day off with a great feeling of saving money and accomplishing a neglected item on my to-do list.  We recently made a switch to Dental insurance because braces are coming down the road (check your plan because you may have to be insured for 1 year before you are eligible for a benefit for braces.)  The new insurance required me to switch to a new dentist — something I was reluctant to do.

We loved our dentist and referred many friends to her over the years, but the new dental plan would pay 100% of preventative care for one of their providers.   Today I tried the new dentist, who had a gorgeous office, gentle techs, and HGTV in the treatment rooms.  Sold!  I walked out with nary a bill or statement . . .  just a lingering feeling that I too, need an “island home” as touted on HGVT 😉  Our prior dentist was costing me about $150-200 per cleaning.

My daughter is not happy about having to leave her beloved dentist, but it does come down to FREE (after paying the insurance that is)!  I was able to soften the blow with a special card from the new dentist that she can take to her orthodontist and he will give her a big Oral-B kit which includes an electric toothbrush and other dental swag for tweens. It pays to have dental friends!

Are you takin’ care of business this week too?

 

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

bLOGIVERSARYIn honor of Blogiversary number 3, let’s play Interesting Search Terms on my blog:

  • how to make a freshers party card  (no idea!)
  • how to be prudent and extravagant (I think I want to meet this person!)
  • WOW! Healthy savings
  • socks Jazzercise (okaaay….)
  • Barbie water inflation
  • Can you show me some money making a um Barbie cake
  • How to save $16.00 in one week (couldn’t they aim for $20??)
  • How much money do you need to be a SAHM (multiply trips to Target X stops at Starbucks)
  • ziplock bag vector

and my favorite….

  • Saving money and resisting the urge to buy chocolate

Thanks for reading!