Bargains and bling

Posted April 3rd, 2006 by Penny Wise

How about this for savings this week? Remember how I began paying money into a weekly 'grocery fund' account several weeks ago? I am proud to report that in the last seven days, it has cost me just over $50 to feed the four of us for the week - seriously! By the end of the week I still had the princely sum of $150 left out of my $200 budget for living expenses, meaning yesterday there was more than enough in the kitty to enable me to buy ALL the food and drink we would need for this coming week and STILL have some left over, even though the next payment isn't due to go into my account until tomorrow! In other words, I am going to be able to put a whole week's worth of grocery money into savings - all $200 of it!

So how did I do it? Using two very simple tricks - menu planning and keeping an eye out for specials. Having gone into the joys of menu planning on more than one occasion already, I shall not go into details again, however even with all my Simple Savings knowledge, I am still a relative novice when it comes to taking note of current store specials. Shameful really, that I have continued to overlook one of the most basic money saving rules, however this flaw is finally being struck off my Sad Sally list. Before visiting the local shop yesterday I worked out my menu plan for the week ahead. I discovered that I would need to buy a grand total of 10 items to give me all the ingredients needed for a week's worth of family meals (this is including breakfast, lunches and lunch box fillers, baking and evening meals). I was already pretty impressed with this achievement, but happier still on visiting the store to find that I was able to buy every single item on my list on special, saving me $12.

That wasn't all though! I needed to buy some more hummus and only wanted a small pot. There were only two pots left in the store - a large one, which was due to expire that day and the small size which I wanted. Unfortunately this had expired the day before, but I was undeterred. I figured it would still be alright for a couple more days and took it to the counter with the rest of my shopping. I was pretty nervous about doing it, but I showed the expiry date to the checkout lady and told her I would be happy to take it off their hands at a reduced price. She went to check with the owner of the store and returned quickly to pop it in with the rest of my shopping. 'The hummus will be fine, but no charge', she said with a smile - which was of course the exact outcome I was hoping for. The thing is, I have been shopping at the same store for 10 years and would never have dreamed of trying to get anything at a reduced price before - I would either have said nothing and paid full price, or left it on the shelf for someone else. A small triumph, but nonetheless a victory for this shopper!

Also managed to solve one of life's small mysteries yesterday. After hunting high and low for Noel's watch and sunglasses for weeks on end, (both very necessary for his job) we finally gave up last weekend and ended up forking out a total of $60 to replace the two. I did warn Noel that as soon as we bought new ones the old ones would turn up, which is exactly what happened when getting ready for an evening out yesterday and I found the two missing possessions buried in my underwear drawer; they must have tumbled off the dresser and into the top drawer. Shame we had already spent $60 before we discovered this!

As mentioned, I did actually venture out for the evening yesterday - for the first time in longer than I can remember. I dragged Maxine along to our local hall social, where a live band was playing and the dress-up theme was 'bling'. (For the many who are still blissfully unaware what 'bling' is, think rap stars, big jewellery, diamonds and so on). Somewhat lacking in the bling department myself, I did the best I could, grabbing a shimmery silver outfit I had worn in a stage show several years ago, sprayed glitter in my hair left over from the kids' rock star party and dusted some shimmery powder on my face. It was ages since I had been out dancing and I was ready to blow out the cobwebs. We had heard the band was great and couldn't wait to strut our stuff on the dance floor. Imagine our surprise then, to find a half empty hall with a dance floor completely devoid of people and a country and western band doing their best to coax their audience into getting out of their seats. Now don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with country music when in the appropriate venue, but for those of us expecting a funky bling-filled night of monumental proportions, it was a bit of a letdown. At least it had only cost me $10 for the evening's entertainment though; Maxine had somehow ended up being charged for two tickets when she had only asked for one! Still, being a bright side to everything, it wasn't long before we were unable to endure any more and we returned home. Not only did our husbands wonder if we were ill to be home so early, but we also returned with the majority of our BYO beverages intact, meaning there was no chance of a hangover the next morning. An unexpected bonus, but nevertheless a valuable saving!

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