Ms. Montana from Montana Money Adventures is on the blog today sharing her take on the best money spent series. Last week, a good money test was spending in ways that gets you more bang for your buck. This week, Ms. Montana has a new way to determine your best money spent: the 2x test. Continue reading “Montana Money Advenures: Best Money Spent”
My heart started to hammer as I unloaded my grocery cart items onto the conveyer belt and I started to mentally run the numbers. We might not make it under our $200 grocery budget for the month. How could this be? What was different? Did I buy too much fresh produce? Should I put something back? For a short month, this budget dilemma seemed unexpected and unexplainable. Rice, eggs, apples, cereal, almond milk, black beans, Roma tomatoes, the list goes on. After eyeing everything in the cart, I realized that any extra trips to the store in the next week would, in fact, push us over our budget. Then, as I watched the family in front of me quietly swipe their SNAP card through the card reader and then thought about my own impending bill, another thought popped into my head: So what?
Something really inexplicable has been happening as of late. More and more people are talking about being poor. Gwyneth Paltrow and her SNAP Challenge. Tim Ferriss* and his calls to practice poverty. Even bloggers, like yours truly, get so married to their budgets that busting them seems like end-of-days music should start playing in the background as spreadsheets are filled.
I have no qualms about this kind of conversation. I’m on board with simplifying. In fact, I admire people who can eschew life’s excesses and really drill down their consumption to the bare minimum. In many ways, that is exactly what the impetus behind this blog is: more purposeful living. But make no mistake about it. There’s privilege in being able to pretend.
Over the past month, I’ve gone back to clipping coupons. Not “let’s buy free contact solution even though no one wears contacts” couponing. Not “buried under a mountain of Sunday papers” couponing. I’m not even primarily couponing for things I need. I’m couponing for our food pantry. Continue reading “My Return to Couponing & How to Start”
I admit it. I was hesitant at first. How much money could a mobile savings app really net someone? My first introduction to Ibotta came from some of the extreme couponing sites* I can’t seem to quit. Twenty-five cents back on soup, fifty cents back on a case of bottled water. These women would lose their damn minds. Yet I was nonplussed. If anything, it seemed like a trap to get people to purchase brand-name items instead of store brands and to go out of their way to purchase items for the thrill of the sale rather than out of actual need (I’m looking at you, bottled water). Eventually, I downloaded the app and then it sat there on my phone. Honestly, we’ve had snow half a dozen times already, and I was still using Map My Run more than Ibotta. It got no love.
Then, Christmastime happened. In one shopping trip, I crossed off much of my holiday shopping list and Ibotta netted me 25% cash back on booze of all things. I made almost $15 in a matter of seconds. It was glorious. Here’s how it all played out: Continue reading “Using Ibotta for Some Extra Holiday Jingle”
Last week, Yahoo Food ran a Refinery 29 piece entitled “What It’s Like to Feed a Family For Less Than $20 a Day”. It was widely read, and if the 3,510 commenters are any indication, it was also widely misunderstood.
In a lot of ways, I blame Refinery 29 and Yahoo. Their sexy headline was nothing more than clickbait and troll fodder. The actual essence of the article was about the flawed Farm Bill and the fact that the current government assistance programs make it much easier to track down sugar-laden processed foods than fresh, let alone organic, produce. It was intended to be about the power and the voice that young people have to demand healthier options with their votes and with their dollars. Instead, it became a soapbox from which people could declare their moral, financial, and nutritional superiority while espousing judgments at their best, xenophobia at their worst.
So how exactly did thousands of commenters miss the mark? Continue reading “SNAP, Food Insecurity, and Really Angry Commenters”
Couponers love to brag. In fact, there are entire databases and websites set up to allow couponers to share their triumphs. Rightfully so, because couponing can help people score major deals. I’m not talking about 50% savings. Couponing brags usually include drastically discounted items, freebies, and moneymakers. Still, I’ve been in the couponing world long enough now to know that sometimes the math just doesn’t add up. Continue reading “Why Couponing Math Doesn’t Always Add Up”
“Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.” No, Richard Betts, you’re wrong. Last week, I was in the midst of catching up on my favorite podcasts, when I stumbled across that sound bite courtesy of Richard Betts on the Tim Ferriss Show.* While I most certainly understood his point — in his experience, the table wasn’t set until there was wine on it — this comment got me thinking about how many different luxuries are on our grocery lists that we pass off as necessities each week. Continue reading “Wine and Other Luxuries On Your Grocery List”
Fresh fruit? Check. Almond milk? Got it. Brown rice? Better grab two. Each week, my grocery list includes a little something extra. Of course, I splurge on treats for myself (hello, chai tea!) and Mr. P (cheers, beer!) every once in a while. But those are not consistent extras. I do, however, routinely add items for my local food bank to my grocery list. In fact, I make it a point to purchase at least one item for the food pantry each week. The why is obvious, but the benefits–both budgetary and otherwise–might not be. Continue reading “Simple Switches: Shop for Your Food Bank Each Week”
Some say breakfast of champions. I say breakfast of cheapskates. Some people were surprised to hear that our grocery budget goal for this month is $200. It clocks in quite a bit lower than the national “thrifty” average of $387 for two people. I’ll let you in on a secret. Part of why our grocery budget currently clocks in at the fairly low total of $250 is my morning food game plan that only sets me back approximately twenty cents a day. Continue reading “My $7 Breakfast Budget for the Month: An Ode to Oatmeal”