I have a pretty big task in front of me that I haven’t had to face in years. Due to an extended emergency in the family starting with the death of a family member who lived out of state, medical problems with another close family member, and some other obligations that kept me out of the house for most of the last four months, my family has been living off our stockpile and we are seriously depleted. I am almost at the starting point when I need everything … not quite that bad, but almost. I hate this feeling. I feel unprepared, uneasy, vulnerable, and very uncomfortable knowing we are not ready if we have another hard-hitting emergency right on the heels of these past ones.
That reminds me … holy smokes, is it almost April? Last time I checked, I was gloating over a successful cash-only Christmas that I had put together (presents, trees, decorations and all!) from selling off old stuff around the house and bargain hunting for all the goodies. Then we were hit with some serious blows and the time vanished. One-third of this year is gone and I have no idea what I’ve done with myself. I just know my house is messier and under-supplied beyond my tolerances, so I have to concentrate and make the most of the next few weeks and pull this together.
I have a good bit of shopping to do and a budget of $125 a week. I have also had some lessons that I had to absorb and incorporate based on the recent test of our resources. I learned that I need to stock way more convenience foods and paper goods than I use myself. I am home full time, so I bake and cook meals myself, and fix things from ingredients. No one else here does that. Sure, they are capable of heating up soup or assembling a sandwich, but they don’t make homemade sauces like I do or bother with the crock pot. So the convenience food that I had stocked (very little of my stockpile) was wiped out in one-sixth of the time I expected. Also, no one has the habits I do for cleaning and efficiency, so the paper goods were wiped out in one-third of the time I expected. So, I have to multiply my expected stock of convenience foods by a factor of SIX and the paper goods (including trash bags, kleenex, plastic wrap, toilet paper, paper towels, you get the idea) by THREE. When you run out of stuff you need and you need the stuff, that’s when money gets wasted and you make bad decisions. I saved all my receipts from that time period but to be honest I have not even looked at them. I haven’t analyzed my spending or followed any of my own advice. The main reason is because I can’t face it. I don’t want to feel the embarrassment I’ll feel at how much we overspent and the bad choices we made because my plan had a serious flaw. So, I did what likely won’t help anything, but emotionally it’s all I can handle right now, I put all the receipts in a shoebox, labelled the box, and put it away.
While that might sound like denial, which I guess it is, that’s all I can handle right now. I’ve had an emotionally draining, financially harsh, physically exhausting, and psychologically frightening series of events in the last four months and I have decided that beating myself up over the failures of my previously perfect plan is not what I need right now. I’ll analyze the effects of my bad planning later, but for now, I am going to file this under “Mistakes Made” and move on to “Lessons Learned” and start over, as of today.
Okay! So, today! I am planning for my first big haul at restocking my stockpile. I started with the flyers for Bi-Lo, Publix, and Rite-Aid. There’s more than those, of course, but these are the three I chose and here is why.
- I picked Bi-Lo because they take competitor’s coupons and because all purchases count towards Fuel Perks.
- I picked Publix because you can load coupons online using your phone number and because they have recently issued a lot of their own Publix coupons that you can stack – meaning you can use a manufacturer’s coupon PLUS a Publix coupon per item.
- I picked Rite-Aid because with their “Plus UPs” program, after you accumulate points, you get 20% off every item in the store, minimum. The program goes March to March yearly and my points from my hard work last year just expired so I need to start over. That means, all things being held equal, I would buy an item from Rite Aid so I can start stacking up points to save money for the entire rest of the year.
I have two lists so far, Publix and Bi-Lo. Rite-Aid list is still in development. I was able to get the Publix and Bi-Lo lists done so fast because the prices change on Wednesday, so I’ve had the flyers for a few days and could put them together. The Rite-Aid prices change on Sunday, so I just got the flyer today, I haven’t had a chance to put the list together yet.
- Need cooking oil – have coupons for Mazola and Lou-Ana, will see what’s at the lowest price
- Chef Boyardee cans – they have them on sale for $1, and I have Target coupons for $1 off of 4 cans, so that brings the price down to 75 cents per can. So easy to pop the top on the can (you don’t even need a can opener!), heat in the microwave, and these canned meals last forever in the pantry. Great convenience food.
- Butterball turkey at the deli – frequently goes on sale and I have coupons for $1 off per pound of deli meat. Deli meat freezes well, so when there’s a good sale and I have a coupon, I’ll buy extra. My family loves sandwiches and will eat this like crazy.
- Paper napkins – I have coupons for 55 cents off a package of Mardi Gras paper napkins, and Bi-Lo doubles up to 60 cents, so this will mean $1.10 off per package.
- Dawn dish soap – I have coupons for 25 and 50 cents off, both of which will double.
- Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice – on sale for $1.50, I have coupons for 2 free rice cups for every 3 Ready Rice purchased. Again, convenient, just heat in the microwave, and these things will keep forever in the pantry.
- Cheap cat food – I have rainchecks from when the cat food was Buy One Get One Free and they had run out, so I collected rain checks (they don’t expire) that I could use when I needed them. Now I need them.
- Land O Lakes Half and Half – I use this for all sorts of things. All sorts of sauces, gravies, recipes will benefit from swapping out Half and Half instead of milk. Right now, there is a Publix coupon for $1 off, plus a newspaper coupon for 55 cents off that will double to $1.10, which means $2.10 off. Regular price is $2.99, so that means even if it’s not on sale, I’ll get it for 89 cents!! I have gotten lucky before and had a “hot price” store coupon that was placed on them by the store before for 50 cents off. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you can see how great of a deal that is.
- Hamburger Helper – on sale right now, plus there is a Publix coupon for $1 off of 3 boxes, plus a newspaper coupon for 75 cents off of 3 boxes.
- Wolf Chili cans – right now, there is a Target coupon and it’s on sale. Again, chili is everyone’s favorite, just pop the top and microwave it and they don’t have to cook or assemble anything. Great convenience food and stores in the pantry forever!
- Knorr Homestyle stock – anytime I can, I buy lots of these. I use them for everything. I make my own sauces plus I can use these for beans or stews or roasts in the crock pot. Price at Bi-Lo right now is $2.99, I have 50 cent off coupons that will double, plus Publix coupons for $1.25 off. That’s $2.25 off of $2.99 per package!
- Campbells Go and Campbells Slow Kettle soups – I’m going to compare the price vs. Publix, but I think they will be lower at Bi-Lo because I have Target coupons for both that Bi-Lo will take. Same reasons, these store well, will keep forever, are easy to use, and everyone likes them.
That’s my Bi-Lo list. I’ll go tomorrow. Since they’ve had the sale prices since Wednesday, it is possible they may be out of a few things, but even that is okay. If they are out of something, I’ll ask for a raincheck. My coupons are good at least until the end of the month so I can still make this work if I can’t get it all tomorrow.