Monday, October 31, 2011

Money Monday: Utilizing What You've Got


I used to have a thing abut Mondays. They were always such a rough day after having my husband home on the weekends and then losing him to the workforce. Just as we seemed to find a relaxing sort of rhythm, the weekend would be over and it would be back to the ol' grindstone.

I don't feel that way anymore. Part of it has to do with changing the way I saw Monday and allowing myself that day to "decompress" from what can also be a crazy, busy, hectic time. Let's face it, weekends with children are not really about resting up. If we're not careful, we can stay just as busy (and sometimes more so), if we don't consciously work against allowing this happen.

So, now I let myself wear those yoga pants as I catch up on laundry, get the dishes done, change sheets, etc. It's actually become a fairly nice day to be productive and a little lazy at the same time.

However, I have a new thing to look foward to with "Money Monday!" I'm always excited for Monday to roll around so I can post the latest chapter in our money makeover adventure.

This week is no exception.

Earlier in the week, I found out that a local grocery store that lost their lease was selling most items in the store for 50% off. I was able to spend a week's worth of grocery money to buy two to three weeks worth of items (and in some instances, several months!!). I was even able to use coupons to make a sweet deal even sweeter, and it was fun to be able to purchase some high-end items I wouldn't usually buy for a normal price. It felt like another God-wink. Not too many people would dance in the aisle over scoring Lady Grey tea for $1.25 a box, but I did!

So, I was able to get a great amount of food (and household items...even pull-ups and diapers for $3.50 each) that we actually needed and a couple of things we had wanted, but couldn't justify spending the money to purchase.

I've always wanted to buy this brand, but could never justify the expense!

In addition, I feel like I am learning how to "make do" with what we've got, instead of running out to purchase what we are lacking. It's pretty atonishing how much money we've saved by stopping to think, look and then research other options.

In that great 50% off shopping expedition, I didn't buy bread and unfortunately, I found out soon after that shopping trip that we were all out. Instead of running back out and buying some, I remembered how much I enjoy making and eating homemade bread and that I had all the ingredients (including some active dry yeast due to the sale I mentioned above) to make it.

So that afternoon, I set about making two loaves of bread with my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer, Mabel (yes, she has a name...and even a decal declaring it. No...it's not strange!)  Not only will that bread more than see us through until payday, its healthy, and I got the added bonus of being able to make it with my six-year-old who loves to cook and bake. Somehow spending time with her shopping for bread wouldn't have been the same.

Plus, I wouldn't have this keepsake to remember it by....

Look at the note she left me in permanent ink

Sidenote: You don't need to own a stand mixer or bread machine to make your own bread. Time and some kneading power from your arm muscles (who needs a gym membership anyway) will do the trick. You can find recipes anywhere...but again, I'd probably start at All Recipes, or if you do have a stand mixer, you have to try this french bread recipe.

You can also get crafty about substituting ingredients that you don't have on hand. We did this last week when we didn't have buttermilk and the kids wanted pancakes (and btw, we're out of Krusteaz pancake mix too). I turned to my Taste of Home cookbook and their suggested common ingredient substitutions in the back of the book. I found that I could "make buttermilk" by using milk, lemon juice and vinegar. If you don't have this cookbook, then you can find something similiar here at AllRecipes.

And...I'm going to try to utlitize more of the "random" ingredients that we have in our pantry. I am a fan of AllRecipes.com and I stumbed across this handy tool the other day on their site. Simply input the ingredients you want to use (and any you don't), and voila! Dinner ideas!

Another thing that I did (which I do from time to time) is contact a company when a product we have of theirs breaks or goes bad. I've found that more often than not, they will make good or offer some sort of compensation in a coupon etc. And many like Jansport, Ray-Ban, and Totes have lifetime warranties on their products. All you have to do is send them back (as directed) and they will repair or replace them.

This week, my beloved Libman spray mop broke -- leaking the cleaning fluid all over the floor which was a bummer to clean up and a bummer because I had the bright idea of using a Swiffer liquid cleaner replacement cannister I had (having retired my Swiffer mop due to the constant expense of replacing the pads and fluid) and it literally leaked out on the floor and in the garage before I figured it out.

Because I have only had the mop for about 8 months and because I love it and don't want to be without it or have to spend the $20 or more to buy a new one, I contacted the company via the website and explained the situaiton.

Within a matter of days, I received an email apologing for the issue and letting me know they were sending me out a new mop....for FREE!

And not only that, after I replied with abundant thanks, they responded and asked if I would want to join their consumer focus group where I will get to try out products and offer feeback...for FREE!

Imagine that!

I'm telling you...I couldn't even make this stuff up!

And the last, whoo-hoo shout-out is that as of today, we have officially funded $1,000 into our "Emergency Fund" in savings!! Not only have we completed Baby Step #1, but we did it in exactly 1 month -- something that I frankly thought would take us at least six to do!

So, this really does work...

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So...onto a review of last night's video and discussion for week six, "Buyer Beware" The Power of Marketing on Your Buying Decisions." 

I think we all would agree that we are heavily influenced by marketing. Ramsey shared a few product slogans by starting them out and letting the audience finish them. The astonishing thing is that the majority of people in the audience (and in the room) were able to recall marketing slogans from the 70's! Now that's staying power.

According to Ramsey, we are the heaviest marketed generation in history! I'd believe it.

Why?

Because it works!

Companies spend millions (if not billions) of dollars collectively to figure out how to get you and me to spend money. Part of the way they appeal to us is by:

  • Brand Recognition
  • Color
  • Shelf Position
  • Packaging

They have it all figured out down to the music and scents that are in the stores to entice you into parting with your hard-earned cash.

And why do we fall into that trap?

Because spending money is fun. We often get a thrill or "high" from it (compulsive shopping disorder anyone?)...seriously, researchers have found that when people make a "significant purchase" (normally anything over $300, but that may vary depending on your income) creates a physiological change in our bodies. We get giddy, sweaty palms and other areas, and our heart speeds up.

(Sidenote: The "crash" of this chemical reaction is "buyer's remorse.")

To counteract making a bad purchasing decision in the "heat of the moment," Ramsey recommends doing the following:

  1. Waiting overnight before making a purchase.
  2. Carefully consider your buying motives. No amount of stuff equals contentment or fulfillment.
  3. Never buy anything you do not understand. (e.g. life insurance, investments, etc.)
  4. Considering the "opportunity cost" of your money. (What else are you missing out on?)
  5. Seeking the counsel of your spouse/accountability person.
I have to admit that I've fallen prey to the excitement of shopping. It's an event, an experience...sometimes you get a little stupid. When the dust clears the next day and you start to account for what you spent and what you actually need and more importantly, can afford, it may just require a trip back to the store for a return.

After all -- even if it was a killer deal -- if you can't afford it, you have no business buying it.

Before you rush out to buy that "something," look around your house, put on your thinking cap, and maybe even pray for wisdom. 

You might be surprised at what you find!


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Related Posts About Our Financial Peace Journey (in order):
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/financial-peace.html
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/my-god-wink.html
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/peace-like-river.html
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/introducingmoney-monday.html
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/introducingmoney-monday-part-two.html
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/2011/10/money-monday-making-tough-decisions.html

For more info on Financial Peace, visit:
http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/preview/


For info on Inzolo -- an online and mobile "envelope system," tool, visit:
www.inzolo.com

For more info on The Blessed Life, visit:
http://theblessedlife.com/

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2 comments:

Rylie Hilscher said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I really want some yoga pants too.... think I'm going to add that to my Christmas list...

mosaicmomma said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh brother...over*my*extremely*dead*body!