New month, new coupons, new lessons learned

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep a reasonable, useful stockpile. Your definition of “emergency” may not necessarily mean war or famine or floods, but something like the person in charge of the food and shopping in your household is unable to take care of things for a time, and having a stockpile the other family members can survive on is essential. First, I’ll get to the important links for those of you keeping track of coupons, then I’ll explain some lessons I’ve learned this past month or so.

Coupons – note that this site will only load a page at a time of coupons, but there are usually 15-20 pages of coupons. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the clickable coupon list, and in the middle of the page will be a button that says “show more coupons”. Keep clicking on that until you have reached all the coupons you can print.

Coupon Network – note that the links they give me to post (I get an email once a month or so with new coupon offers) might go to one particular coupon, but you can view all their coupons by clicking on the “printable coupons” link in the top middle.

Redplum – some new vitamin and other items this month!

Smartsource – a few new ones also! Food, medicine, and personal care.

Now on to the lesson I learned this past month that I’d like to pass on. I have really hesitated to write much since Christmas. Not because there’s anything wrong with the blog, but because this is new, I am struggling with a certain concept. I never, ever wanted the blog to be about me and about my personal life, but a tool for me to use to share my knowledge and explain ideas I have developed over the years. At this point, with all that’s going on, right now it will be impossible to not involve my life in this blog. Most likely because a true story, a personal event, is probably going to serve as my most ready example for what I am trying to teach.

The past two months in our family have been extremely difficult. A few days after Christmas, a family member died, and she had lived several states away in a very rural area. The family gathered from several different states and many of us had a long drive. In addition, the surviving family members in that area have small homes with not much space for visitors, as well as all the challenges of a very small rural town (no internet access, no cell phones, 11 people sharing one land line, and no alternate accommodations as there were no hotels at all nearby) and so we had some real challenges as far as transportation, communication, and accommodation. Because of this, I was the lone person from my household that decided to make the trip and stay for the duration of the arrangements. And because you can’t plan when you die, it came up suddenly with no warning, and I caught a ride from a family member in the next state so we could travel together, and I sort of dropped everything and abandoned my household with no preparation. Dirty dishes were in the dishwasher, laundry wasn’t done, fresh food was in the refrigerator intended to be cooked, and the family members left behind had never taken care of any of these things before.

On the drive on the way up, before I lost cell phone access, I explained to my family some simple things they could prepare, as well as what I had ready and easy to fix in the freezer and pantry. Everyone figured it out, and when I got back into town, I was worn out and mentally drained, and unable to do any shopping for a few days. Luckily I didn’t have to. After a few days, when I felt a little more normal, I did some grocery shopping but only because we were craving fresh food – I still had plenty of frozen vegetables, sliced meat and cheese, bread, canned soup and other easy to prepare items left.

It would have been a lot more stressful if I knew I was leaving them with no food, on top of all the other stress we were dealing with at the time.

Days after the trip ended, I fell ill with a minor illness, but it did take me off my feet for a couple of days. Every member of the family ended up with the flu, bronchitis, sinus problems, and so on off and on for three weeks. No shopping except dashing in for one quick thing here and there, I had my full time and attention at home. Unfortunately one of my family developed a life-threatening pneumonia and nearly died, and became hospitalized on life support. The hospital is nearly two hours from my house, and so when I could, I spent the night sleeping in a chair at the hospital, and when I absolutely had to come back home to sleep in a bed and take a hot shower, I had a two hour drive each way. Again – cooking was impossible, shopping wasn’t going to happen. We are in the second month of this ordeal, with him still in the hospital, me still back and forth. And there are still (dwindling, but still there) cans of soup, frozen packages of sliced lunch meat that would be easy to thaw, frozen packages of cheese that can thaw, loaves of bread (plus tortillas for a change of pace), sandwich materials like mustard and mayo, and everyone can live just fine on perfectly healthy convenience food until we are all back on our feet again.

It was, and still is, an emergency, and this is what the stockpile is for. Yes, I’m depleting it, but I don’t need the stress of preparation and shopping right now. We’ll use the stockpile and when this ordeal is over, I will evaluate my supplies and re-stock. This actually will be a good lesson, it is showing me that a family of 3 can easily survive on my stock for two months at least, and I’ll have a good baseline for figuring out the usage charts with some realistic numbers rather than just my estimates.

I may not write much until all this is settled, now you know why. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy. In the meantime, watch the sales flyers and keep track on your Price Tracker for the items you use the most. Winter is a good time to stockpile canned goods, baking goods, and frozen items like vegetables. Catch everything else you need at the lowest price by comparing.

Take care and stay healthy.

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