Apr 4 2011

mom!! the ice cream truck!! [day 312]

I have really come to hate the taunting music played from the ice cream truck, getting louder as it gets closer to my house.  As soon as I hear the fain sounds of it, I know what’s next.  Mom!!!!!  The ice cream truck!!!!!!  My kids know I’m not a fan of the van filled with overpriced, well advertised sugar products, stopping to fill the air with carbon monoxide and invading my territory.  While I was away and had a sitter, they went to the truck.  My youngest, knowing I would not be happy about this, decided to make something good out of it.  He decide to get something that was in a container we could reuse, and he also talked all his friends into doing the same.

We use these little containers in our lunch bags.  I did not end here.  The next time the ice cream truck came by, I said, “No.”  After much deliberation, I decided to have some fun with this.  I let him go out and get some ice cream from the truck.  I think I freaked out my neighbors, but here’s what happened…

 

 

I haven’t checked at Kroger yet to see if they carry Popsicle Shots, but I’ll be checking today.  I’m all about people making a living in creative ways, and the ice cream truck driver is a good way to make some money.  It’s like fast food that comes to your house with dessert.  I never buy this for my kids, I make them use their own money.  If they feel good about the purchase, then I’ll go with it.  I don’t always say yes to the ice cream truck, but I don’t always say no.  Balance.  It’s all about balance.

 


Feb 12 2011

theme your fire! [day 261]

It looks as though chimineas have become a seasonal item.  Now I really don’t understand why anyone would buy one of these, with the exception of someone like me, who likes to display holiday stuff on the wrong holidays.  Where do you store this giant, hollow chunk of clay on the off-season?  Provided there’s enough space to store him, he probably throws the plastic tarp to the side and has coffee with Mr. Pumpkinhead Chiminea and Santanea, as they wait patiently for the release of Miss Easter Rabbit.

Now I’m not sure what you think, but if this is a winter chiminea, how much use would anyone get out of it if it’s snowy and cold outside?  I have a fire pit (non-themed) and I use it about 7-8 times a year.  This is one of those items that don’t get used a lot.  If I had really thought through it, I would not have bought the fire pit.  Although it’s nice to have when I want to make s’mores, I don’t use it enough to justify owning one.

These are the changes I hope to make coming out of the challenge.  I want to really think through all purchases, large and small, making good minimalist choices and buying things I will use.  I have applied that to the used stuff I purchase and when I do get something, I use it.  My hot tub is used about 70% of the time and has great family-time value.  My freecycle lamp is fixed and now I have light in my dining room.

I hope Frosty enjoys the hot Texas weather or that he finds Karen, and she can get him on the train to the North Pole in time for the heat wave.  Oh, and Professor Hinkle, good luck getting your hat off this Frosty.


Jan 22 2011

a 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds [day 241]

Yes, I made a judgement call based on 25¢, a quarter I thought I would loose.  Listening to some bad advice, I decided not to try a new grocery store in my area, a store that opened over a year ago.  Some person (I don’t remember who) told me that the new Aldi grocery store charges 25¢ for the use of their carts.  What this yo-yo neglected to tell me is that you get your quarter back when you return the cart.  So instead of checking this out, like I normally would, I decided not to.  My 25¢ lesson?  Make my decisions based on my own research, not something someone says. Of course I will always take advice and opinions into consideration, but I should always see things for myself.  I do this with people, I should do it with everything.  Lesson learned, but not just one.  There were many great lessons from this experience that I would love to share.

What is Aldi? “ALDI is a discount grocery chain that operates over 1,000 stores in 31 states. Through a select assortment and convenient grocery shopping approach, we’re able to offer our customers the highest quality everyday items at the lowest possible prices—honest to goodness savings.” Read more about them and why they’re different at aldi.us.

So why the quarter for the cart? “At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.” I like this.  In addition, it keeps the carts from hitting the cars in the parking lot and the carts seem to be in better condition.

I decided to shop there a few days ago.  It was the closest store and I just needed 2 items.  After the great experience, I decided to go back.  This time was to shop in efforts to try some of the different brands, buying one or two of each thing we normally purchase.  After seeing first hand, the incredible savings, I decided to do a cost analysis.

Last night, my kids and I went to our local grocery store to compare prices.  It was nice to get out of the house and I forgot my phone, which was nice, as my kids and I had fun doing this.  Who would have thought?  Here’s the results.

Aldi price: $65.40

This is pre-tax.  There was only one thing that was a name brand I usually buy, Amy’s vegetarian meals.  All of the other things were Aldi or generic brands.

Name brand price: $139.51

I priced the name brand items that were comparable in size and type to get this number.  The name brands cost 113% more than the Aldi brands.  Whoa!  that got my attention!

Off brand price: $99.33

To get this number, I used the same criteria as above, but with generic  or off brand items.  There were a few things that didn’t have generic brands, so the brand name item price was inserted.  Shopping at the major grocery store for off brands cost 52% more than Aldi.  Again, wow!

I’m sure you have some of the same questions I did before going in here, so I will address them now.  I had some very unexpected shopping results, that were much more than just saving money.  I also got me thinking about my shopping habits and how I have some room for growth.  Continue reading


Aug 21 2010

paper vs. plastic paper [day 85]

Paper plates.  Can you call them that anymore?  Most of them are made from paper with plastic coatings, foam or plastic.  I choose not to use them most of the time, but going camping, I figured that’s not a bad idea.  I thought back to my girl scout days and remembered a camping trip where I had a canteen and some little metal dishes in a nylon mesh bag.  We didn’t use a bunch of disposable stuff, we ate and washed our dishes.  I don’t remember it being much of a hassle.

So off to the grocery store for food.  Just for the record, I did not buy the paper plates, as that’s not on my challenge list of acceptable things to buy.   I know they make environmentally friendly paper plates, but I didn’t see any.  I thought I would just select a small pack of paper plates with no plastic coating, lining, prints or any other special features.  My thoughts?  Simple paper shouldn’t be too bad for landfills.

So here are my choices, well, I can’t call it that, it was one choice.  A 300 count pack of paper plates.  No small packs, just the jumbo size.  We got it, figuring I could bring the extras to work or use them for art projects or something.

Paper plates are not evil. I’m blogging this for a couple of reasons, not because I have disposable plate issues.  So what are the reasons?  This is shopping in general, not just paper plates.  😉

  • The paradox of choice: we have a selection of many types, but do we have a good selection?  Is there another place to shop that might have better choices?
  • Is there an alternative to what we are buying? This might not be necessary in many cases, but it’s a good thought process.  My choice is not to use paper plates because I want to minimize my use of disposable paper, plastic and foam products.  At home, I have all mismatched dishes.  I have a lot so I can entertain and still have many plates and bowls, and if one breaks, I simply buy more at the thrift store.
  • Am I willing to go without? Sometimes no, but sometimes yes.  By thinking about it, I can make better use of my money and find creative ways to not need as much stuff.

Want to know the kicker here?  A raccoon, probably the one that ate our loaf of bread, got into the paper plates and approximately 150 of them were all over the camp site.  Raccoons are evil.  😉