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Flipping Q-Tips! Or Why is Non-Food 1/3 of My Grocery Budget? - Page 6

post #101 of 131
Thread Starter 
A Dissapointing Update:

Between July 23rd and today (Aug. 22nd), we've spent $225 on food, $35 on durable goods (mostly binders and picture frames, all on sale), and $166 on non-food consumables. Augh!

I'm fine with the food budget, especially considering that we've made 18 pints of salsa, 7 pints of BBQ sauce, and frozen most of the fruit and about half of the veggies we'll need to get through the winter. (Still up: canning ketchup, pizza sauce and marinara, and freezing beans and eggplant parmesan patties. So next month's food bill may be a little high, but, again, that's okay.)

It's the blankety-blank NFC catagory that infuriates me. $20 of this went to cell phone minutes, $12 to cat food and $15 to dog food, but other than that, they were all nickel and dime purchases. Paper, pencils, stuff to make laundry soap, wet cat food (to sneak medicine to my healing kitty), pain killers, canning lids, dish scrubbies... just stuff.

Sigh.

Part of this is disgust on my part with how insidious our consumer culture is. I try so hard to mindful and aware, and I still spent over $100 this month on stuff I can barely account for or remember. $100 would feed a family in a refugee camp for a month or more.

I know beating myself up is non-productive, but I'm feeling super annoyed with myself right now. Somebody talk me down here.
post #102 of 131
((((((((((Leta)))))))))))) Hon, you are spending so much less than so many other people. It's more than you like, and I'll bet you'll figure it out piece by piece as you go. I'm glad you are so conscious, but you've got to find some peace w/your limits eventually.
post #103 of 131
Thread Starter 
Peace with my limits. What an interesting phrasing. I've been tracking our spending to gain peace with our money- which has worked, BTW- so the fact that used the same word is kind of... a happy irony, I guess.

Thanks.
post #104 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
Honestly, I can think of several family members I would get rid of before I'd rehome my cats. Several.

Anyway, DH likes my cats now. The boy in particular. He's just sort of resigned to the girl. We know that my big kitty has toxoplasmosis, because he just got his eye removed because it was infected with toxoplasmosis. Poor guy. He's doing really well, though, and he seems to feel much better. Once he's totally healed and his hair all grows back, I kinda think he's gonna look bad@ss.
Aw, poor kitty! Glad he's pulling thru!

"Peace with my limits" Great phrase. I'd never thought before about nfc and their cost until this thread. It really made me think while I was out shopping today. This is something I will have to digest as it pertains to my situation. Got me to thinking.......
post #105 of 131
we have a $160 allotted each month for sundry and we are a family of four. our income is very low but really, that's about how much stuff we need. i mean, you _have_ to spend some money on some stuff, it's not really realistic to get angry at yourself when you're spending so little in the scheme of things.

plus, you are _so_ thrifty in so many ways. i'd just try to relax about it a little. i think the peace with limits idea is great!

it's kind of reminding me of an anorexic that doesn't want to eat at all and realizing that you have to eat something to survive. not sure what a reverse spending disorder is called
post #106 of 131
I think you're doing great. Some things I think you should switch categories on though. For example, canning supplies, IMO should go under food.

Dish scrubbies - If you knit you can get some super scratchy, and cheap, acrylic yarn and make reusable scrubbies that you just throw in the washer.

Laundry Soap - I use dry detergent at about 1/3 the recommended dose. This has never done me wrong no matter the heat setting. I don't think you need special detergent to wash everything on the cold setting. Although if you are going to be making your own dish scrubbies, I would recommend washing the kitchen towels and scrubbies on hot.

Aloe - Check soap/lotion making suppliers online. You should be able to get a pound of gel for like $10.
post #107 of 131
Thread Starter 
That makes me feel a little better, Playa. I guess my problem is that I don't want to need $160 of stuff a month. I bet diabetics don't want to need to take their insulin, either, though.

Aloe in bulk online! This is a great idea.

The only reason that canning supplies are under non-food and vinegar (used for cleaning) is under food is because of how my reciepts are broken down. All the stores around here, even the $1 store, give you a non-food and a food total at the bottom of your reciept, so I just write down those totals rather that go thru each item. It makes tracking my spending much easier. I presume that the stores here do this based on what you can buy with food stamps, because a fairly high percentage of people here get SNAP benefits.
post #108 of 131
aloe practically grows itself, and it is super easy- you can even just transplant some from an older plant.

It sounds like for most everything else you're doing great. You have to spend money to save money, even though it sucks.
post #109 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
That makes me feel a little better, Playa. I guess my problem is that I don't want to need $160 of stuff a month. I bet diabetics don't want to need to take their insulin, either, though.

Aloe in bulk online! This is a great idea.

The only reason that canning supplies are under non-food and vinegar (used for cleaning) is under food is because of how my reciepts are broken down. All the stores around here, even the $1 store, give you a non-food and a food total at the bottom of your reciept, so I just write down those totals rather that go thru each item. It makes tracking my spending much easier. I presume that the stores here do this based on what you can buy with food stamps, because a fairly high percentage of people here get SNAP benefits.
Do you have a local sales tax? Here non-food is taxable, but food isn't, so we get our receipts broken down to food and non-food.

Some other things I thought of: Do you buy arts and crafts supplies in bulk? You can get craft paper in a huge roll which lasts a looooooooong time, as well as powdered paints, so you can mix as you need them and then you don't have waste when they dry out and are no good anymore.
post #110 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post

Here's what I have figured out:

-Tinfoil, plastic wrap, and parchment are coming from the restaurant supply store from now on. The big boxes should last us 5+ years.

-I'm going to spring for the dispenser, and switch to the napkin-like TP. This will be easier for toddler hands, produce less waste, and will be cheaper in the long run. Also from the restaurant supply store.

-I'm going to spend $50 for 1000 zip top bags from Amazon. They are 5 mil plastic, so thick, and since we re-use, they should last a while. (We spent $40 on 1000 bread bags 2 years ago, and even with 100% home bread making, have only used about a fourth of them. So I'm thinking the ziplocs will last around 5 years.)

-I'm going back to making my own laundry detergent. I'm subbing out the Fels Naptha with Sun w/Bleach Alternative. This will be less work, cheaper, and should work better. I'm just going to dissolve the powder in hot was water before I switch to cold, so I should notice only a marginal increase in my gas bill, if it increases at all, and I'll be saving about $70/yr, so I'll still come out ahead.

-I'm going to try growing aloe vera and catnip. This won't eliminate the need to buy it, but should reduce.

-I'm going to check out Walgreens and try to get toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, and razor blades cheaper or free.

-I'm going to start using a measuring cup as the food scoop for my fat, fat cats and hopefully reduce the amount they eat as well as improving their health.

-I'm going to spend $25 on a gallon of pine tar, and make enough soap with it to last us a decade.

-I found some floursack towels. This will not eliminate our cheesecloth needs entirely, but will reduce them by about 80%.

-I'm going to go to Office Max for our office supplies (including a way cool staple-free stapler!) and buy printer paper in the big box... and I'm going to HIDE it.

-I'm not buying dog treats anymore. DH has been bringing the dog beef bones home from work, and she likes those way better, anyway.
Okay, now I have to add (for my own reference if nothing else):

-I'm going to buy a gallon of aloe from soapcrafters.com for $18. Such a deal. The little bottles are $4. (I'm going to get a plant, too.)

-I'm going to check the feed, pet, and pool stores for bulk baking soda.

-I'm switching from $0.10 per pound, Earth raping clay kitty litter to $0.075 per pound wood pellets.

(I tried Feline Pine, and the main reason I disliked it was because it was so expensive that I tried to make it last longer. But now that I know wood stove pellets are A) the same, B) cheaper than regular cat litter! and C) always around, because we have a pellet stove, I'm going to just use the wood pellets the same I would use clay litter, so I think it will be fine.)

-I'm actually going to spend about $6 on pine tar and make enough soap to last us a decade.
post #111 of 131
Thread Starter 
Ho, ho, look what else I found! Bulk razor blades, here I come!

Gosh, I love the internet. I should have done this years ago.

So now I'm up to 10 things that I'll be able to take off of my shopping list- if not forever, at least for several years. That's exciting. I feel like I'm making progress.
post #112 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
Ho, ho, look what else I found! Bulk razor blades, here I come!

Gosh, I love the internet. I should have done this years ago.

So now I'm up to 10 things that I'll be able to take off of my shopping list- if not forever, at least for several years. That's exciting. I feel like I'm making progress.
The aloe sound like a heck of deal, but frankly the razors where about what they are on sale around here. I have been able to keep myself in free or $1 Venus razors if I keep my eyes open. Granted I don't use too many razors because I rarely shave during from October to May. I'm also pretty sure I have more retail options than you do (I know the UP pretty well.)

Yes, I end up wasting a bunch of packaging getting the whole razor when I just need the refills (DS1 like to play with the suction cups). I bothers me, but not enough to spend $20 on four refills.
post #113 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnnice View Post
The aloe sound like a heck of deal, but frankly the razors where about what they are on sale around here. I have been able to keep myself in free or $1 Venus razors if I keep my eyes open. Granted I don't use too many razors because I rarely shave during from October to May. I'm also pretty sure I have more retail options than you do (I know the UP pretty well.)

Yes, I end up wasting a bunch of packaging getting the whole razor when I just need the refills (DS1 like to play with the suction cups). I bothers me, but not enough to spend $20 on four refills.
I actually would like a couple new razor handles. I lost my suction cups, and would like new ones, and I'd like a handle for DD to play with, since she's fascinated by my razor, which is kinda terrifying. So if you wouldn't mind, sharing your strategy would be great.

I'm thinking that since we got a Walgreen's, maybe I should be on the lookout for coupons around the holidays?

Are you a displaced Yooper? We've been here four years, and I am not one of those who goes Appleton a few times a year to shop. I'm still learning to manage with these retail options, since I moved from SE MI- Costco and Hiller's and TJ's, oh my!
post #114 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
I actually would like a couple new razor handles. I lost my suction cups, and would like new ones, and I'd like a handle for DD to play with, since she's fascinated by my razor, which is kinda terrifying. So if you wouldn't mind, sharing your strategy would be great.

I'm thinking that since we got a Walgreen's, maybe I should be on the lookout for coupons around the holidays?

Are you a displaced Yooper? We've been here four years, and I am not one of those who goes Appleton a few times a year to shop. I'm still learning to manage with these retail options, since I moved from SE MI- Costco and Hiller's and TJ's, oh my!
Most of my deals have been at Walgreen on sale (about $9 with a $5 or $6 RR and a $3 coupon). I think the last go round was in 2-2009. There is also a try it free rebate you could find if you googled it (it's supposed to be if your not satisfied--I griped about the excessive packaging.)

I'm not a Yooper, but I lived in Mount Pleasant for a few years and a lot of my friends where Yoopers). I live in NE WI and am cross country skiier (married to an even more avid skiier) and often end up in the UP in search of snow (we like the other seasons too).

I made the mistake making a rare trip to the mall in early November (UP deer hunting opener) weekend a couple years ago. It was crazy busy and full of Gwinn and Newberry sweatshirts.
post #115 of 131
Thread Starter 
He, he. Yeah, we love it here, but it's not like we love it for the shopping.

Is RR register rewards? Because the Walgreen's website says that they aren't doing that anymore.
post #116 of 131
Thread Starter 
A ha! An 8 pack of Venus or Mach3 blades is $15 on Amazon. Free shipping, too. So that's cheaper than the other site.

That's under $2 a blade, by far the cheapest I've found yet.
post #117 of 131
OOo - this is interesting. I want to play too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
Monthly Household Expenses Breakdown

Pets
$12 Cat Food (Purina) Can you use generic?
$6 Kitty Litter
$1 Catnip Grow your own? Or find a patch in a neighbor's yard?
$15 Dog Food (Purina)
$3.50 Doodie Bags (Heart)
$3.50 Dog Treats Another thing that could be eliminatd, I would suppose.

Non Food Consumables (Purchased in a Brick and Mortar Store)Aloe $4 (3 x/yr) = $12 Never use this, I had a tube for like 5 years and tossed it in a move...
BandAids $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Lip Balm (Carmex) $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Q Tips $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Cotton Pads $3 (2x/yr) = $6 Like cotton balls?
Witch Hazel $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Dental Floss $6.50 (2x/yr) = $13Wow, that is some expensive floss...
Toothbrushes $3 (8x/yr) = $24
Toothpaste (Tom's of Maine) $3 (12x/yr) = $36This does seem like a large quantity of toothpaste. I'd guess we use 1/2 this amount for 4 people.
Razor Blades (Venus/Mach 3) $24 (1x/yr) = $24Don't you hate these darn things, they are so expensive
Deoderant (Tom's of Maine) $4 (2x/yr) = $8
Contact Solution $3 (1x/yr) = $3
Nail Polish Remover $2 (1x/yr) = $2No nailpolish = no need for remover....
Glycerin $4 (1x/yr) = $4
Pine Tar Soap (Grandpa's) $5 (4x/yr) = $20
Liquid Soap (Dr. Bronner’s) $15 (1x/yr) = $15
Peroxide $2 (1x/yr) = $2
Antibiotic Ointment $5 (2x/yr) = $10
NyQuil $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Tylenol $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Ibuprofin $5 (2x/yr) = $10
Stool Softener $4 (2x/yr) = $8
Tums $4 (1x/yr) = $4
Misc Other First Aid Stuff $10 (1x/yr) = $10
Brita Filters $20 (2x/yr) = $40 Installing a faucet filter is probably cheaper in the long run
Cheesecloth $5 (2x/yr) = $10
Duct Tape $4 (1x/yr) = $4 I use at least this much tape, so no comment
Packing Tape $2 (1x/yr) = $2
Scotch Tape $3 (1x/yr) = $3
Masking Tape $3 (1x/yr) = $3
Gift Tape Refills $5 (1x/yr) = $5What is gift tape?
Mechanical Pencil Leads $5 (1x/yr) = $5
Pen Refills $3 (4x/yr) = $12I would try to stock up on a good sale, at teh start of the school year or tax time seems to be the time for deals
Chalk $1 (2x/yr) = $2
Printer Paper $3 (3x/yr) = $9
Staples $2 (1x/yr) = $2
Envelopes $3 (1x/yr) = $3
Stamps $10 (1x/yr) = $10
Printer Cartridges $15 (2x/yr) = $30
SuckNSeal Bags $7 (2x/yr) = $14
Gallon Ziplocs $2 (3x/yr) = $6
Quart Ziplocs $2 (3x/yr) = $6
Recycling Bags $7 (1x/yr) = $7
Trash Bags $7 (1x/yr) = $7
Straws $1.50 (2x/yr) = $3
Toothpicks $1.50 (1x/yr) = $1.50
Bleach $5 (1x/yr) = $5 $5 for a bottle of bleach? I'm pretty sure its less than $2 usually
Borax $5 (1x/yr) = $5
Paper Napkins (Bounty) $3 (4x/yr) = $12 Get some cloth rags or towles $12 is enough to start with and stop buyign paper towels
Toilet Paper (Scott Tissue) $9 (5x/yr) = $45
Green Scrubbies $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Dish Wand Sponge Heads $3 (3x/yr) = $9Dish rags - reuseable and cheaper. I gave up on the dish wands because I got so pissed about having ot buy sponge heads all the time.
Color Safe Bleach (Clorox II) $7 (1x/yr) = $7I never never use this stuff. I don't understand it's purpose
Dishwasher Detergent $4 (1x/yr) = $4
Stain Spray (OxyClean) $2 (6x/yr) = $12Wow - lots of stains. A can of oxyclean lasts us like a year... same with spray-n-wash or whatever
Laundry Detergent (Coldwater Tide) $12 (9x/yr) = $108This is the big one to me. I use regular detergent, the cheapest I can find, and cold water and the clothes come out clean. Tide is crazy expensive and I don't think it works any better than the cheapest stuff (bought on sale too)
Plastic Wrap $2 (4x/yr) = $8 This seems like a lot of wrap to go through
Tinfoil $3 (4x/yr) = $12 same comment as wrap
Parchment $3 (2x/yr) = $6
Waxed Paper $2 (1x/yr) = $2
Waxed Paper Bags $2 (1x/yr) = $2

Total: $691per year
Or $57 per mo

(+$40 in pets = $97/mo)

Non Food Consumables Purchased Online or Thru the Cafe
Alpenglow Shampoo ($50/yr)
Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bars (Human and Dog) ($50/yr)Wiat, $100 a year on shampoo. Maybe it is possible to do better here...
Everyday Minerals ($20/yr)I don't know what this is...
Essential Oils ($20/yr)*I do not use these at all
Titanium Dioxide ($5/yr)*
Zinc Oxide ($5/yr)*
Sodium Hydroxide ($5/yr)*
Potassium Hydroxide ($5/yr)*
Beeswax ($5/yr)*
Conditioning Beads ($5/yr)*
Bread Bags ($5/yr)*
Dishsoap ($10/yr)*I don;t know what a lot of this stuff is for so I really can't comment....)


Food Items Used As Non Food
Guar Gum ($10/yr)*
Xanthan Gum ($10/yr)*
White Vinegar ($50/yr)
Apple Cider Vinegar ($50/yr)$100 a year on vinegar. I mean, that seems like gallons and gallons and gallons a week....just saying
Baking Soda ($50/yr)Holy cow - really? What do you do with it? I mean, wow. A couple small boxes see me through the entire year
Salt ($5/yr)
Castor Oil ($10/yr)*Not sure what this is used for
Sweet Almond Oil ($10/yr)*
Vegetable Shortening ($10/yr)
Olive Oil ($10/yr)Ha - this seems low to me, but that is probably because tihs is my main oil for cooking and I'm sure we use more than this

* = items purchased less frequently than once a year
Ok, my main issue would be with the Tide. I totally think it is uneeded. Honestly, the rest is debatable. I'm sure we have househouse expenses for things that other people don't use... And maybe I use less Witchhazel or whatever..

Are there really no CVS/Walgreens/RiteAid in your area? Because those stores have very good deals if you combine their sales with store and manufacterer coupons. You can often get items for nearly free.
post #118 of 131
We finally got a Walgreens semi-close to us. It is in an area I already do most of my shopping, so it is convenient even if it is nearly 10 miles away.

Can someone educate me on how to get these "deals"? I need some step-by-step instructions since I barely use coupons. (We just don't buy things that have coupons. I do receive Mambo Sprouts coupons and use those, when appropriate, but otherwise mainstream food coupons just don't apply.)
post #119 of 131
Thread Starter 
Yeah, what she said.
post #120 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post
We finally got a Walgreens semi-close to us. It is in an area I already do most of my shopping, so it is convenient even if it is nearly 10 miles away.

Can someone educate me on how to get these "deals"? I need some step-by-step instructions since I barely use coupons. (We just don't buy things that have coupons. I do receive Mambo Sprouts coupons and use those, when appropriate, but otherwise mainstream food coupons just don't apply.)
Basically, what you do is keep your Sunday newspaper coupons. Don't throw them out each week - hold them until they expire. (You can clip and organize them, or just keep them in a stack or whatever, it doesn't matter.) Each week when the Walgreen's sales flyer comes out go through it and look for the really great deals for that week or month. They have a monthly booklet in the store too that has extra Walgreen's coupons. Then, what you want to do is combine the sales from the weekly flyer with the Walgreen's monthly coupons and the manufacter's Sunday coupons to get items as cheaply as possible. The key is that you have to hold onto your Sunday coupons and to watch teh sales each week and then buy the things only at their cheapest, rather than when you need them. Some items may only go on sale a few times per year (e.g. candy before Halloween, for instance).

Usually there are also some items at Walgreens that are free after rebates. If you use a coupon to buy those things, then you are in effect getting paid to take them. So, you pay $8 for something, use a $2 coupon, and then get a $8 rebate, as an example.
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