Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's All Under Control

My sister was admitted to the hospital today for her stem cell transplant.  Her husband and our mother are with her ... several states away.  And I feel like I should be there, too.  If not for my sister, at least for my mom.  She's so tired.  But she wouldn't be anywhere else.

But God sent us all a message today.  My sister sent this picture of the room she will be staying in.  Instead of your typical, bland hospital room, she and my mom walked into a room with butterflies, birds, and flowers painted all over the walls.  (And it has a view to boot!  See that sunshine?!?!)  It's one of the only decorated rooms, according to the staff.  It was donated by the Association for Support of Children with Cancer.  And since the children are now located in another area of the hospital, adults are now being blessed by this donation.

Informational Tidbit #1:  My sister adores butterflies.  She has for years.  And they've become her cancer symbol ... her symbol of hope.  And even though her poor groom would prefer to never see another one in their home, she is even incorporating them into their ceremony this spring for their renewal of vows.

Informational Tidbit #2:  My mother adores flowers and plants.  Her gardens are beautiful.  Her house is full of them.  She has the greenest thumb I know, after my grandmother.

So ... my mother and I are taking this room as a sign.  A sign from God.  Reminding us that He's right there.  Reminding me that even though I'm not there to take care of both of them, He is.  And He's got it all under control.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frugal Living - Grocery Shopping

Many people think frugal living is just about saving money.  There is also a theory that TIME IS MONEY.  I have several techniques to try to save both.  

After bills, much of our take-home income is spent on purchases, most of which seems to be groceries, so let’s concentrate there for now.

Keep a grocery list … a continually running list on the fridge of items that need to be replenished.  This includes the gallon of milk that was just emptied or the bag of flour that was just opened.  Because it’s not so convenient to make a quick trip to the store when you’re in need of a new bar of soap to shower with, right?  Write down each item as you use it up or open it up.  I even break my list up into sub-lists by store.  Make your life extremely easy and write your list in the order you'll find your items in the store!  Do what you have to do to make it easy and fun: write on pretty papers or with pretty pens!  I have some monthly list pads that my hubby bought for me once.  I switch them on the 1st of each month so it's never boring!  Just use the list … love the list.

Stop shopping daily, or even weekly.  While some items like fresh produce and eggs need to be restocked more frequently, other items do not.  Buy what you need for at least two weeks at a time.  The more you go, the more you spend.  Use the list ... love the list (see above).

Put a limit on couponing.  Wait! Please hear me out … Yes, you can save oodles of money with coupons, but it takes a LOT of time to save a LOT of money.  I do not have a lot of time and what I do have I do not want to pour into couponing.  And in reality, buying items that I normally wouldn’t use isn’t really saving me anything.  And neither is stocking up on multiple items that are just sitting on a shelf.  My grandfather will tell you, “It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.”  So, use coupons only for items you would normally purchase, for items that are already on sale, or for those items that you’d like to splurge on once-in-a while. 

Shop wisely.  Use your farmer’s markets in season and bulk food stores – the produce is better and bulk is generally less expensive and healthier.  Shop at discount stores like Aldi – for most items, brand doesn’t mean better and often the only difference is in the packaging.  Use sales flyers – view these on-line and even save the cost of a Sunday paper!  Make a list of sale items that match-up with your coupons and grocery list.  Use the list ... love the list. (Have I mentioned the list?)

Do it yourself.  Make your own cup of coffee – invest in a Keurig (and the refillable filter!) if you must.  Pack your lunch – it doesn’t take long.  Limit junk food and pre-packaged items.  Baby carrots are easy, but more expensive than cutting up your own, which isn't terribly difficult.  (Then again, time is money so choose your battles.)  Cook your own dinner – cooking and eating as a family is SO important, and not just for the wallet.

There's so much more that can be done.  But you have to find what works for you and your family.  Maybe I'll share some other ideas another time!

Just remember, frugal doesn’t mean cheap or poor … it just means smart.