Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Attempt at Making Every Dollar and Minute Count

As most of my readers know (heehee, "readers", that is a fun thing to say), I do my best to try to spend as little time in the grocery store as possible.  I try to go only twice a month - the first time early in the month for everything my family and I need for said month, and the second time is at about mid-month to restock fresh produce.  When I go that first time each month, I usually can get in and out of the store in 2 hours or less, and usually with my kids in-tow.  I have blogged about how I try to accomplish most of this each month in a previous post ( ), but for about 6 months now I have been wanting to try different "tricks" to try to save even more time.  I finally got the courage to go outside my normal household stocking routine this month to try something new!

I usually shop at Walmart for groceries and household items, because in my smallish town, the choices aren't as varied as they are in larger cities.  I like that they have low prices and have pretty much everything my family needs to keep us fed, our house clean-ish, and our lives manageable and fun.  A friend told me back during Christmas about how if you spend $50 or more on, then they will give you free shipping. I started to roll this idea around in my mind for several months thinking that if I could order a lot of my non-perishable items on Walmart's website, then it may come down to only having to go into the store for fresh dairy, eggs, meat, and veggies!  And I knew I would have at least $50 for a month's worth of non-perishables.

Toward the end of May, I considered making my first attempt at this new shopping method, but I needed several non-perishable items that first week of June and wasn't sure how fast the items would be shipped to my home.  So I opted to wait until the end of June to purchase items for July.

So when the time came to start prepping for July, I went through my usual menu and shopping list making process. But the day before my planned shopping trip, I sat down at my laptop with my list to buy the non-perishables online.  Right away I was disappointed, because not all canned foods were available for purchase online.  So my dream of literally only shopping on the perimeter of the store in half an hour was shattered by the reality of the randomness of what was and was not available for online shopping.  I was able to purchase all the non-food items that I didn't need right away, which was nice!  My dream then became reborn, but altered as only shopping on one side of the store - the grocery side - and still saving some time!

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that while many food items were not available for purchase online, many times larger sizes of food and non-food items were available that were NOT available in-store!  So in some cases when I usually have to buy two or three of a food item for one recipe, I was able to order on the website an economy size!  I only use Walmart's brand for diapers and wipes to save money (and after 2 babies and now toddlers, in my opinion, they are quality products), but what was so exciting is that they sell a Super Saver Box of diapers online that is not offered in-store!  My son wears size 4 diapers, and the largest box in the store is 124 diapers for $20.  The Super Saver Box was available online only, giving me 180 diapers for $28!  It also means fewer boxes and plastic wrappings to open as well!

Also, I was able to find common items online that usually are all sold out at the store when I shop.  My hair gel, shampoo, and unscented baby wipes are almost always all gone when I go to the store!  By shopping online, I was guaranteed that I wouldn't have to smell a scent I hate or miss out of having just the right hold on my dried curly hair!  That feature alone might make it worth the online venture!

When I had gone through my entire shopping list and had purchased everything that was available from it online, I had managed to take care of about 20 items on my list.  But since I only shop once/twice a month for groceries, that was only about 1/4 of my total list.  I was a little let-down by that, but was hoping that I would really see the benefits in the time spent in the store.

So the next day, I went into Walmart with my list, my checkbook, an ink pen, and my two kids.  We shopped, checking things off the list, and totaling numbers as we went.  I realized about halfway through my shopping trip that I still had visited every aisle that I usually do, and I didn't feel like I was saving a lot of time.  We did our usual "good behavior at the store mechanical horse ride", this time for both kids since Keegan is such a big boy now (14 months, can you believe it?!)!  As we walked out the door, I looked at my phone and was greatly disappointed realizing that I spent almost the same amount of time as I usually do in the store.  Even though I did mark some things off my list before our store trip, I still had to visit both sides of the store and most of the aisles on the grocery side.

The great thing is that I only had to wait 2 days for most of the items to come in, even though the projected arrival date said 3 days!  The first shipment that arrived were 3 boxes, 2 of them being quite large... but when I opened them...

The boxes were practically empty!  The size of the boxes looked ridiculous compared to the minute amount of items in each one.  And there was a lot of packaging paper and bubble wrap-type pouches.  I was a little overwhelmed by all the trash now piled up in my kitchen and bewildered by the small cluster of items sitting on my counter!

I will say that I was impressed though with how well all the liquid items were packaged for shipping!  Each one was wrapped in these huge ziploc-type baggies and each lid was taped as well!

The rest of the items came a few days later, cutting it very close with the diapers!  I had 3 diapers left in our entire house when the 180-count box showed up!  I would have been very upset if I had to go back to the store just for an emergency pack of diapers!

So, I'm really not sure how I feel about the success or failure of this attempt.  I did not save time in the store, which was the entire point, but I did score some economy-sized items not available in-store and finally got my favorite scents and kinds of items usually scarce on the shelves!

Will I do this again?  Maybe one more time just to see if I could get better results next time, but I will be honest in saying that I'm not sure it will be better next time.  As a mother, though, sometimes it is good to get the opinion of the kids before making a final decision...

Well, it looks like they approve!  I'll take it into consideration :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

When That Pet Peeve Works In Your Favor

I love my husband more than anyone else in the world.  I do.  I absolutely do!  But, since he is different from me, and we live together, and we are both sinful (shocker, I know), he can also drive me insane!  He can infuriate me where I, the person who hates yelling, will raise my voice.  I have been known to also do the opposite and go into the "silent treatment" (and as you should know by now, I love to talk), all because I was annoyed to my maximum capacity by the one person that I cherish more than anyone or anything on this earth... how can I love someone so much and also want to hurt him so severely?!

I am mostly kidding, of course, mostly... and BELIEVE ME - I annoy him just as much as he annoys me.  We are imperfect people who share every room, vehicle, possession, dollar, and the same sarcastic sense of humor!  Things are bound to cross the line every now and then into the "that bothers me" territory!  It is unfortunate that we don't always share points-of-view, opinions, or habits, but that is impossible anyway.  Thankfully, for the most part we get along quite easily.  And we love each other enough to give grace when the other person needs it... most of the time.

I think most married people would say that the things you absolutely love about your spouse can also be the same things that sometimes get on your nerves about them... For example, I love that my husband is detail-oriented, because most of the time I am not.  I love that he is outdoorsy, and he likes to camp and fish and hunt and hike.  I love that he is creative and handy, and he can build shelves in the garage in an hour.  I love that he can teach himself to sew a hammock cover instead of buying one so that he can save us money.  BUT, I don't like how one of these hobbies or projects starts out as a little tiny thing he sees needs to be done, but it turns into a 3-week project with tools and materials spread out all over the dining table, on top of the piano, and on the kitchen counter.  It means many sessions of YouTube videos in the background noise in my home as he rewatches or researches further the steps to finish whatever the current project is...  like I said, the things that you can love most about a person can also sometimes be what makes you want to punch them in the throat (not that I would do that... though I am thoroughly human and find it tempting at times)!

But yesterday I experienced the opposite as a newly-discovered truth... I learned that the things that drive you crazy can sometimes be the things that make you love them more!

Case-in-point: Yesterday Keegan, our 14-month-old son, spilled and squished Goldfish crackers into the living room rug. My husband starts to jokingly say that "we can't have nice things because you let the kids snack in the living room".
My reply, with a smile to give him back what he's dishing out, "Oh, if it were up to you, we'd never do anything fun because it might make a mess."
He shoots right back, giving me a hard time about "if it weren't for me, we'd have mice and all sorts of mess around here", which might be partially true because I am not the tidiest person... neither of us are offended, because we both know that I do clean.
So I make the victorious remark - a question, really. "So, how many times in 6 years have you vacuumed this rug?"...
His answer was obvious in his humbled-head-hung-low in grinning "shame".
I win.
He gets the vacuum out of the closet.
I think he is going to vacuum the rug.

Instead my husband proceeds to the trash in the kitchen. He takes the vacuum apart, cleans out all the hair wrapped around the brushes, and then he proceeds to go get all the attachments out of the box! He lays them all out on the dining table, and starts to YouTube videos on these attachments.

I watch all of this from the couch astonished as the minutes go by... And I am starting to get annoyed by this, thinking 'So the vacuum gets cleaned, and now we know in-depth how to use each attachment, but the cracker crumbs that set all of this in-motion are still in the rug?!' So I started doing some things around the living room and kitchen to keep me from saying something I shouldn't.  He is still watching videos and holding each attachment as he learns about each one.

And just as I can't take it anymore, my husband gets up and cleans out the bag-less vacuum container and filter outside in the yard, puts on an attachment and cleans some webs inside the windows. Then he vacuumed around the fireplace. Then the whole rug, not just where the crackers were...

Then he cleans the windows with cleaner and newspapers. Then he goes upstairs and comes downstairs with laundry to go start a load...

So, usually when he sees one tiny need and it turns into a 3-week production, I get a little angry.  Sometimes I get a little concerned that he may be ADD and OCD... and it is all I can do just to make sure he is not DOA!!! But this time his downward spiral was with cleaning, and I have never loved this man more!  Thank you, Kyle, for being so thorough in your cleaning whirlwind.  It warmed my heart and sucked up the cracker crumbs!