Keepin’ Your Head Above Water

Sorry for the absence; I’ve been busy.  The windows (four of them) went in, but that’s another story.  I’ve been sanding, staining, priming, painting, and installing window coverings.  (Two windows ended up much wider than the originals, so I couldn’t use the same blinds.)  Today I caulk, and if you’ve read my previous posts, you know how I love that  Caulking is a really cheap thrill!

Now it’s time to return to the basics of family economics.  What’s a family to do about cash flow?  It’s the same mantra: create a budget, with needs taking priority over wants.  Church donation and mortgage first, groceries and meds next, transportation to work and school next.  Remaining vigilant about family expenses is crucial to staying afloat in uncertain, and downright difficult, times.  And  right now, we are blessed to have been given some breaks.

The price of gas is just $1.92 per gallon today; I check daily at omahagasprices.com!  Who would have thought that we would be thrilled to pay that?  There are lots of reasons for the price adjustment, which interestingly (hmm!) result from supply and demand (imagine that).  Additionally, almost all of us have adjusted our driving habits to cut down on gas use, and those new-to-some habits and carpools, can now support a budget squeeze without much more ado.

Grocery comparison shopping is still the most important way to save on groceries.  Food manufacturers and processors are issuing coupons lately that actually mean something again, and there are some deals to be had.  This week, some of the deals I’ve found this week include:  a gallon of milk has dropped to $1.99 at Aldi, and a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread is still $1.69; frozen whole turkeys were .69/# at HyVee, as well as GM cereals for $1.43 after coupons, and BC box potatoes for .42 after coupons (if you don’t eat them, consider donating to a food bank); spices were .49 at BagNSave (great for the coming holidays), and frozen vegs were .77/bag.

There are stores that price match, and you may or may not have to bring ads to verify.  However, for my habits (to avoid spending too much time and money in any store), I have a circuit of stores I visit after dropping off morning carpool.  One, two, three, and I’m done.  For me, it’s worth the time and effort, since I literally pass right by these stores.  If you just can’t eak out the time to browse the Wednesday ads, or the online flyers, consider changing to a low-cost grocery store that’s on your route home, and hit that store regularly.  Get to know the folks who work there (because they’re some of the nicest people, just like you), and it’ll make your shopping experience much more enjoyable.

For entertainment, we continue to enjoy the library, and am glad to discover they’re getting in some newer release DVDs and books of all genres, of course.  Music, computer games, magazines, vacation planning materials, you name it!  They’re closed major and minor holidays, so be sure to plan ahead.  Your local Hollywood Video may be offering this same deal: retire your Blockbuster card to HVid, and get a free rental.  Cool!  I don’t use that old card, anyway.

Sometimes just keeping your head above water is tough.  Luckily, you’ve got friends like me to help you.  With economic uncertainty looking like it’s here to stay, it’s time to tread, or learn how.  Read on.

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