Middle age

How I cut my grocery bill (almost) in half


Besides the $82.89 I saved at Kroger (my final bill was $108.72), I will save $2 off fuel (20 gallons with a 10 cent per gallon discount), $1 from ibotta and $1.75 from Checkout 51.

Once I started working from home, I took over the grocery shopping and one of the challenges I imposed on myself is finding ways to reduce what I spend each month. Because of this I have come across several systems that work almost seemlessly with my shopping.

Paper Coupons. These I am using less and less since I have moved to digital coupons. But, whenever I do use them, I pair them up with store sales so I can get the most benefit from them. In my recent trip to grocery, I bought 6 jars of Ragu — normally priced $1.79 — which would total $10.64. But since Kroger had a buy 6 get $3 off deal — they were $7.74. My three coupons were worth 75 cents each bringing my total down to $5.49. I had a 4th coupon — a store coupon for a free Ragu — ($1.29) bringing my final cost for 6 jars down to $4.20 or 70 cents per jar.

Digital Coupons. I tend to get my best deals with digital coupons probably because I add them to my card based on what I know I will buy. Once they are loaded to the card, I don’t have to worry about losing them. I normally double check my list of digital coupons before heading to the store.

Saving Star. I get on this site once a week just to make sure I have grabbed any deals that may save me a few dollars. Although, you won’t see huge savings here, the advantage is you receive cash back for the purchase and once you have $5 in your account you can cash it out.

Apps. I just starting using ibotta and Checkout 51. Similiar in concept to Saving Star, these systems deposit cash into your account and you then cash it out once you reach $5 (ibotta) or $20 (Checkout 51). They are designed for smart phones and you simply photograph your receipt with your phone and select the deals you purchased. With ibotta, you do have to play trivia type games to earn the rebate.

For hoousehold goods, I tend to utilize the extra bucks program at CVS. This seems to keep my cost low especially for TP, paper towels and dishwasher soap.

Categories: Middle age, saving money

Books I’ve Read: First You Have to Row a Little Boat

For some reason, I have recently started reading ‘meaning of life’ type of books and came across this one in a thrift store. The book landed on the best sellers list and once you read it you can easily see why.

First You Have to Row a Little Boat, by Richard Bode

The book starts off in a peaceful place — Bode’s youth and his overwhelming desire to own a sailboat.  You quickly learn that Bode, who does not try to evoke self-pity, has lost both of his parents. After their death he first lives with his grandparents, but he is eventually raised by an aunt and uncle when his grandmother becomes too ill to care for him.

You, the reader, follow along this quick trip through his childhood and beyond, by meeting the characters that teach Bode how to live. They do not sermonize or preach, instead offer small bits of wisdom along the way that Bode eventually latches onto as life lessons. The boat, although real, is a metaphor for his life, as he learns how to navigate through good and bad weather, how to control the wind and and figures out his destination.

Regardless of where you are in your life, at least one of the chapters will resonate with you. After his first boating accident on his sloop (he hit a log puncturing a hole in the vessel), he is relunctant to go sailing again.

I stood on the shore, looking at my sloop thinking about all the terrible things that might happen to me, and for a while I did not want to leave the harbor. For the truth is to sail, to even contemplate sailing, calls for a fundamental faith in one’s self, at that moment I was only aware of the barriers between myself and my destination..

Of course, he will go back out. He will learn and he will master seamanship. Eventually he win even place in a sailing race.

Even though I know little (nothing) about boating or sailing, Bode writes in a way I didn’t need to, giving just enough information about boating to explain what I needed to know. Although, he handles some pretty ‘heavy’ stuff for such a short book, you walk away with an appreciation that life does not have to be perfect, it just has to be lived.

And just like Bode as a young boy, you realize have to stop worrying about what might be and sail.

Categories: Books I have read, Middle age | Tags: ,

Broken Spirit: What A Rescued Dog Taught Me About Life

versa-headshot[Technically, Versa is my daughter’s dog. We went to the local dog pound and my daughter picked out the 40-pound, black and white mix-breed, nine-month-old female pup. Within a month, though, the pup was mine. It wasn’t my daughter’s fault. The dog just gravitated toward me — and then Versa started to grow on me. But Versa has a problem, as a pound pup survivor she has fear aggression — which means she is fearful of everything. Slowly, she is conquering the condition. These posts are the lessons Versa has taught me along the way.]

Lesson: Everyone Thrives In The Correct Environment

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Albert Einstein

Versa and I have a daily ritual. I sit on a stool in my living room, start putting on my socks with my shoes beside me on the floor. Versa knows what this means: she is going for a walk. Her tails starts to wags, she prances over to our front door then back to me to check my progress. She nudges me with her nose as if to say hurry up — let’s go.

Lessons I learned from a rescued dog

Versa enjoying the Great Outdoors…

We are heading to the woods. Although, I don’t know with certainty, Versa seems to be a hunting dog because she sniffs wildly when we walk the trails, peers into the underbrush — and crouches down to sneak up on squirrels and gophers. She jumps, hops, runs (really, really fast), heads to the creek for a drink, then back on the trail to explore some more. It short, she acts like a pup.

It is a 180 degree turn from her early days with us — and a few of the days she still has inside our home. In a home with a highly active social teen, Versa deals with an onslaught of girls coming in and out of the house, not to mention normal everyday stimuli that startle her: delivery men, mail men and the occassional knock on the front door. Any of those events can send her into a downward spiral of fear — cowering with raised hackles and barking.

Just like Versa, people, including myself, respond to every environment they encounter by either embracing the situation creatively or rejecting it from fear.

There is probably no better proof of this than how we generate income. A recent study shows that nearly 20 percent of Americans are actively disengaged at work while more than half of the workers surveyed show up, but aren’t particularly thrilled to be there. These are people whose daily ritual is trudging to a place they hate or at the very least greatly dislike.

Which makes it really hard to run and enjoy the view.

Tools for uncovering your best environment [Offsite Links]:

>> For an inspirational site filled with the stories of people who have found their environment (and other stories too), check out the Good News Network.

Categories: Dogs, Middle age, Pets, Versa | Tags: ,