What took me so long?

April 15, 2008

If you are like me, there are a few things that you’ve either consciously or unconsciously resisted because that darn contrarian gene in your DNA that rises up and refuses to be ignored.  Or perhaps you were blithely living your life until something suddenly come into such sharp focus, not unlike those annoying Magic Eye posters from the 90s, that you once you see it, you can’t imagine your life without it. 


1.  organic milk– This one really has me scratching my head when I considered how long I went without even trying it.  The combination of the cost, the relative difficulty buying it (hard to believe since even the Asian grocery store sells organic milk, but even 3-4 years ago, it was fairly rare) and the attitude of “hey, I drank milk from cows that were full of  antibiotics and growth hormones and I turned out ok.”  Organic milk tastes so creamy and sweet that I would never return to that bland, thin white liquid they pass off as regular milk, no matter how expensive (although I pay only a little bit more for organic milk now – see #5).    

2.  Bare Escentual makeup– Ok, I admit it – I deliberately avoided this one for a long time.  It just seemed very cult-like to me – the infomercials, the fanatical Bare Escentual wearers who were tripping over themselves to get me to try it, the fact that it was a powder and it was supposed to be made of minerals?  Sounded like Amway or Melaleuca to me.  Meh.  I’ll stick to my Lancome, thanks. 

Then a few months ago, I had an hour to kill at the mall and decided I needed a new lipgloss.   I walked into Sephora a Saul and walked out a Paul, clutching my new Bare Escentuals starter kit, having seen the light thanks to a great makeover demonstration.  The one bit of advice I’ll impart to those over 30 and want to try Bare Escentuals – moisturizer is your friend!


Try the Rare Minerals Night Revival Treatment – your skin really will be brighter!

3. Ebay– On the internet, it seems like everyone shops and sells on Ebay and inclusion of this topic seems oddly superfluous.  But in my sphere of friends and acquaintances, the vast majority have never even been on Ebay.  I was one of those people, only creating an account a couple of years ago to buy ostrich plumes for my children’s Halloween costumes.  But then I quickly discovered that you really can find almost anything on Ebay.  So to my friend wondering what to do about her scuffed hot pink heels – try searching for pink shoe polish on Ebay.  Personalized party invitations for Piper’s 5th birthday bash?  Ebay.  Magazine subscriptions for dirt cheap?  Ebay.  A grilled cheese sandwichwith an image of the Virgin Mary on it?  Ebay.

4.  Uggs– It just seemed so silly to me – Jessica Simpson or Linsday Lohan, sporting her Uggs while wearing shorts.  Umm, aren’t Uggs lined in toasty-warm sheepskin, perfect for sub-zero temperatures?  Chalk those boots to the don’ts of 2003.  Several years pass and now our 13 year old baby-sitter is wearing them, which is exactly why I wouldn’t buy them for myself.  But this past Christmas, Santa brings me a pair of my very own and then I discover what everyone else has figured out:  Uggs are lined in toasty-warm sheepskin, perfect for sub-zero temperatures.  Say goodbye to cold feet forever!   Disclaimer:  these will be put away once then temperature rises above 50 degrees.  If only everyone else could be so sensible.

Thanks, Santa.

5.  grocery budgeting– I was always one of those shoppers for whom grocery shopping was an experience, meandering through the aisles of Wegman’s, smelling the fresh basil, sampling the soft-ripening cheeses, and mentally planning my weekly menus on the fly based on what I was in the mood for and what may or may not be on sale.  I never had a food budget – I bought what I wanted, when I wanted it. 

Back in January, I decided to take a cold hard look at our grocery spending and I was shocked when I added up the grocery debits from the past few months.  We were spending well over $800 on just groceries for our little family of four.  The problem was not just buying rib eye steaks, it was forgetting about that bunch of broccoli rabe at the bottom of the crisper that had to be thrown away.   Even if you don’t keep up on the worldwide food shortages, you can’t help but to notice the dramatic price increases in staples such as flour, sugar, eggs and milk in just the past year.  It was time to take control of the waste and create an honest-to-goodness food budget. 

Within two months, I managed to slash my grocery spending in half while simultaneously the increasing our pantry inventory.  This was accomplished several ways:

  • I came up with a realistic amount that I was going to spend each week and when I hit that amount, I stopped buying.  Simple as that. 
  • To help me accomplish this goal, I stopped using my debit card at the grocery store.  Do you remember your mom counting out her grocery money in those bank envelopes?  Yup – go old school.  Take out the cash each week (or bi-weekly) and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to stick to your budget when you are using cold hard cash.
  • Plan your weekly menu and shopping lists using the grocery circulars that come in your mail, buying what’s on sale.  You’ll start to notice there are certain things that go on sale regularly, like cereal and meat.  Also, having a menu eliminates the problem of forgotten produce and meats rotting in your refrigerator.
  • Clipping coupons in the Sunday paper.  And don’t throw away the ones you don’t use – be open to trying new brands that you can combine sale prices with coupons.  It’s amazing how good a box of cereal tastes when it’s free!
  • If you want to go hard core, join forums like Hot Coupon World and Slickdeal.net.  It does take a while to get oriented, but you can find printable coupons and specific shopping strategies.   You’d be surprised at what kind of coupons are out there – coupons for organic milk, for example (see #1).


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