Good morning my fiscal friends!!
I’ve been missing you… And onto many a new adventure over here in my absence!
First: I picked up a metal detector again after a decade or so away! And it’s been hella fun digging up old artifacts again while cleaning up areas of trash and beer cans, lol… Not sure it’s been a totally good exchange of time, but all that will change the day I dig up a hoard of gold coins!! *evil laugh*
I’ve also turned into an adult and scheduled a million doctor visits to finally deal with things that have crept up for me in old age… Things I typically put off forever because, well, I’m a guy, but now that I don’t have a real job anymore I no longer have the biggest excuse of “no time” ;)
So far this week I’ve seen an orthopedic specialist for my long-aching lower back (turns out I have degenerative disc disease – eek!), next week I meet with a gastroenterologist to talk about the possibility of doing an early colonoscopy to see if anything’s concerning, and then lastly it looks like my Pemphigus Vulgaris may be coming back in my nose so unfort. need to meet with my dermatologist again to see if another round of infusions is in order there, ugh…
On the plus side, my stress is nearly non-existent and my spirits are high so it’s hard to complain too much! Just chalking it up to being an ever growing (older) human being!
Then lately, in my constant pursuit of making better use of my time and helping others, I’ve decided to take on my wife’s #1 personal enemy:
GROCERY SHOPPING 😂
Something that a) I’ve never really paid much attention to because it’s been in her domain for over 15 years now, and b) had no idea what I was really getting into until I started doing it! Haha… Turns out it’s quite a lot of work!! Not to mention requiring oodles of TIME, patience, and stopping every other impulse of yours to snatch goodies off the shelf every two seconds, gosh…
WHY DO THEY SELL SO MUCH YUMMY FOOD THAT’S BAD FOR YOU?!!
But we’re three weeks in now and I’m finally starting to get the hang of it… And weirdly, kinda enjoying it? No so much in the shopping part of it per se, but more in the “learning something new and trying to make it as efficient as possible” part.
It’s felt GREAT having full permission to go in and completely do as I please with our pantry/fridge too, and the day I took over I immediately went through every single item and ended up throwing out over 70% (!!) of our freezer and at least 20% of our fridge and pantry of expired or never-gonna-use food. The minimalist in me had a field day! And I can already tell my wife is more relaxed now not having to squeeze in grocery runs in between work multiple times a week.
So a win-win all around so far!
(Also enjoyable btw: running and jumping on the cart as if you were 8 again, haha… Totally forgot that feeling and this time there’s no adult to stop me!!!)
Some things I’ve learned so far in case anyone else is about to embark on this adventure:
- Keep reusable bags in the trunk of your car so you never forget them
- Allot enough time to *put away* your groceries once back!
- NEVER GO SHOPPING WHILE HANGRY!!!
- Allow yourself *one* treat per visit to help with motivation
- Keep your kids at home unless you want your trip to take 2x longer
- Visit *each* store in your community to get a feel for what’s there, how much it all costs, and of course how annoying/peaceful/busy each place is during different parts of the day. <– This is what I’m in the middle of right now and I’m blown away by how *drastic* the prices can be for the EXACT SAME ITEM!!! And also how different all the stores setups are, which I guess just takes some getting used to over time?
- And then lastly, which I’m learning the hard way so far, haha, make sure you know what brands/items are *non-negotiable* with your family members! It’s not always just about the costs, and the littlest things can make the biggest differences apparently, lol… (Looking at you orange juice and chicken nuggets!!)
So yeah, one more thing added to my Dad Duties and feeling pretty good with myself here… The Habit Stack gets bigger, and I’m that much closer to being a domesticated adult! 😂 Turns out I can do more stuff than just money – hah.
(Speaking of money – another eye opener??? Some things are SO EXPENSIVE now!! Peanut butter?? Eggs? Yogurt?? All double what I remember paying for them on my odd shopping trip… In fact, the only thing that seems to have stayed the same over the years is milk. I swear I’ve been spending $2-$3 for a gallon since I was in college, but I could be remembering wrong… Oh, also fruits and veggies and especially spinach… You can get a whole TUB full for only $3! What a bargain!!)
At any rate, that’s what I’ve been up to over here! How about you?! Taking on any new goals or adventures of your own? Have any tips or tricks you use to make your grocery shopping smoother??!
Spill your secrets in the comments or email me please!! :)
Also – tell me how you KEEP TRACK of it all… I’ve been using the notes app on my phone but wondering if there’s a better tool/system out there?
Hope you’re well!
Your domesticated (and fast aging) friend,
PS: Other things I’ve been getting into lately:
- Hopped on a podcast to talk about $$$, transparency, and risk –> Valiant Business
- Wrote a new post on my Coin Blog –> Prop Money is Flooding Our Town!
- Cashed out the last of my bitcoin once and for all. So you’re welcome for it going back up now! Haha… I’ve always had the “best” timing for when to go in and out, so it’s no surprise my $20,000 pot ended up at $10,000 🙃 Would have continued letting it ride, but needed to max out my IRAs for the last tax year and didn’t want to dip into other investments. Just one more thing tacked onto my Resume of Fails!
- Finally got my tattoos!!!! And they’re so pretty!!! Hurt like hell around the collar bones, but def. worth it (and always something about the pain making you feel like you actually *accomplished* something, lol… isn’t that weird?) Pic down below, or you can click here to see the stages from start to finish on IG.
- Still volunteering/finding donations for my homeless friends. Though sad to report my old friend Lizzy has been in and out of jail over the weeks since she hasn’t been able to pay for any of her tickets she’s gotten from sleeping in parks :( Can you imagine?? Getting locked up just because you can’t pay $200-$300? She’ll be right back in there again too because SHE HAS NO HOME AND HAS TO SLEEP SOMEWHERE!! But as always I just listened and talked with her for a bit and made it my mission to learn more and see how best I can help. Just wrapped up a 2 hour training the other day from the local shelter so slowly making some progress here…
- And lastly, I started taking up bowling out of all things, haha… Had the hankering one day (that’s right, hankering!!) and then blew almost $40 in one hour (!!). WOW has it gotten expensive. But a little birdy told me to search Groupon for deals, and sure enough there’s a plethora of them where you can bowl for 50%-70% off! So I picked up the max coupons you could buy, and now my dad and I meet weekly to bowl a few games in the morning while everyone’s at work ;) It’s the first time in years just doing something with the two of us which is practically priceless… even though we’re paying for it – hah. Yet another perk to chasing FIRE though! Affects all areas of your life with so much time freed up. So keep on going!! The fight is well worth it! 👊
[Another interesting thing about getting these? I had to shave my chest and now kinda like it?! Though it does add more time to the shaving regiment, lol…]
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If you don’t have Ibotta, Shopkick, or Fetch yet, get thee to downloading! (Lots of us willing to share referral codes, just saying, lol)
Stacking coupon rebates and points back makes for some nice $ back on those grocery bills.
For price comparison, maybe a spreadsheet of your usual items and note prices at the local stores, so you can track what’s “normal”. Then you can also look at weekly sale ads/prices and know when something is a good deal.
YES!! Spreadsheeting!! Lol… Loving that idea..
Seconding the idea of rewards programs. Once it clicks, you’ll never go back to paying retail again. I regularly get stuff for free or even get more in rebates than I paid.
Granted, a lot of the deals are for stuff I don’t need/don’t like. But the deals that do hit are PRIMO…As for the rest, if I can get something for free and donate it to the shelter or give it away on the Buy Nothing Facebook group, then I do it.
A quick primer:
I like that idea of donating the free stuff! I had Ibotta installed for a few years back when it came out but can’t remember the last time I cracked it open. I bet so many newer coupon apps have popped up since too?
Depending on some of the stores in your area, some might have digital coupons in their own store app too. I’ve stacked those with Ibotta and other rewards programs, for some good deals.
rock on – thank you! will have to poke around more with this as i think you’re right and i bet there’s at least a few dollars of easy savings if i just take the extra minutes :)
Here are my tips! (I took over grocery shopping duties in early December, 2022)
On Saturday (and even sooner than that sometimes), I start planning our meals for the week ahead. We have a couple inexpensive dishes that we plug in sometimes, but we try to spice things up as much as we can with our dinners.
Once I find some dishes, I then write everything out on one page of a Microsoft Word document to keep it super simple. Two tricks here – buy in bulk (have ingredients in Monday’s dish that can be used in others later in the week) and search the kitchen first to see what dishes you could create.
Now, once you get to the grocery store, stick to your gameplan! :) The only exception to buying things that are not on your list is if you see amazing deals on items that you can use for future meals. Bulk buying is your friend.
Not sure if this is super helpful, but it has saved us a lot of money! Like with sports, you created your gameplan (aka grocery list) through proper preparation, so trust and stick with it hahaha
Haha I like it… I’ve def. spent way more than I intended a couple of times, but like you it was only because I found some deals that I knew would pay off in the future! If only you could time it right to buy *everything* when it’s on sale :)
Invest in bowling shoes if you are going to bowl weekly. They pay for themselves after 10-12 times you bowl (rentals are usually around $5-$6)
You can get them for around $50-$75 depending….
We bought them for the whole family and then hit ladies night and only have to pay for Dad.
YES!! 100% makes sense!! Good call – thank you!
I LOVE grocery shopping. We’ve seen half a dozen grocery stores arrive in a three-mile radius within the last decade; I roll right past a Whole Foods on my way to Lidl and Trader Joe’s, for instance. It’s insane. But I’ve internalized where to hit for what, the cashiers all recognize me and chat for a bit, and everything’s pretty dead at 8:15am on a Saturday. It’s a surprisingly relaxing and fulfilling way to start the weekend. #adulting, I guess.
Haha… bet it feels great being productive to kick off the weekend too!
I shop at King Soopers over Walmart because they offer digital coupons in their app. You also earn fuel points, I regularly get AT LEAST $.60 off a gallon through those points. I always hit their clearance and sale meat section first, there’s often ground beef or other products on clearance because their sell by date is nearing. I just make sure to put it directly in the freezer when I get home. We have a little white board magnet on the fridge, we write down the staples we’re out of on there. Then once a week I write out the dinners for the week (utilizing the things we already have in the freezer and pantry), hand write the grocery list from there (with a note of what coupons I have in the app). As you can see…..this is my thing haha
I think you’ve got it right with those digital coupons – much harder to lose or forget! :)
J look for a really good physical therapist (ask friends for recommendations) for your back pain. A :10 daily exercise routine has kept me pain free for almost a year. I used to strain my back every 2 months and was in pain for weeks. Life changing!
i would take any and all advice from the former ms. liz. i hope you are both well.
haha hi guys!!!
and YES!! Physical therapy is next on the list if these exercises the Doc gave me doesn’t work well.. but so far they are!! I do like 6 or 7 of them every day (usually in mornings) and so far they’ve been magical :) Guess it’s all about staying limber and strengthening the core (less pressure on the spine!). First time in months that it doesn’t hurt now when I sneeze, lol… the little things!
Grocery shopping is one of my fave things!!
My tip: wherever we live or travel to, I find a discount outlet…they sell food and all the other stuff you find in a regular store that’s near its best-buy date, has damaged packaging, is overstock, etc. but at HUGELY discounted prices!
We shop there first every week and it saves us a bundle…and it’s kind of addictive (well, for me; not so much for my hubs! Lol) because you never know what you’re going to find…speaks to the ‘explorer’ in me!
I like to eat organic and they usually have a ton of organic choices at a serious fraction of what you’d normally pay. They’re even way cheaper than Lidl or Aldi.
Examples: when we lived in PA, I loved one called Ebenezer and also the chain Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Now that we live in AZ, I’m a regular at American Discount Foods and Peoria Discount Grocer.
Hope you can find one near you!
If you do, maybe do a follow-up on the thrill of the massive bargains you find ;-)
haha okay!! never even heard of these I don’t think?! we used to have one for bread products years ago, but can’t recall ever stumbling across a discount place in recent times.. I shall investigate!
ugh. grocery shopping is the worst. i had to make one major trip last fall when mrs. smidlap had the covid-20 (that’s one more than 19). the one store where we mostly shop is constantly changing the layout and it had been a couple of years since i got much there on my own. we do try hard to keep at least the pantry stocked at home with dry goods like olive oil, rice, dried beans, and flour.
the thing bugging me about food inflation i think you mentioned: the stuff that was cheap forever is no longer. stuff like ketchup, peanut butter, and pickles should still cost about 2-3 bucks in my mind.
Yup… was much more fun being ignorant and not seeing it every week 😂
You made my day with this post J! I’ve missed reading about your adventures, and your authenticity and candor is so meaningful!
You’re also taking aging very graceful and with optimism, love it.
Good call on the grocery shopping, until recently I’ve only had to shop for myself which makes it so much easier because it’s in your mind :)
I’m pretty rudimentary but use Google calendar’s task scheduled for each Tuesday evening, which is when I get groceries, and often just look at a food blog a little bit before to see what ingredients I need to get for that week.
We’re lucky to live walking distance to a Safeway and biking distance to Whole Foods, Sprouts, and TJs so can mix it up each week! Funny enough Costco has bike racks too and people look at you funny when you go in..it’s like I’m just buying one jar of almond butter and some protein powder!
haha you are a pro at this!! exercise AND groceries – love it!
That giant tub of spinach is approximately 2 servings after cooking.
Unless he’s talking about spinach for salad.
hah! yup – for salad.. which has lasted like 7 nights so far and still plenty of room to go 😂
I remember once when I washed a handful of it though and it shrunk!! i was like WTF?! then my wife reminded me that it’s already been washed and fine to eat as is to keep it nice and fluffy haha… goes against my nature of just washing it all again anyways, but it was not fun eating tinier/slimier feeling leafs that’s for sure :)
Thanks to rapid inflation (not of my paycheck, obvi), grocery shopping is now a sad experience.
Tips: I use a cheap dry erase board on my fridge to keep track of the shopping list (taller family members have learned to add to it if they want their unique lunch food/snacks replenished). Anytime I plan to hit the store, I just snap a pic with my phone, and I’m on my way.
I also made a lot of traction when I invested in an energy-sipping freezer. I freeze butter, cheese, milk, bread, meat, fresh produce, etcetera if I find a squeal of a deal.
I also try to make freezer meals in advance – it helps me buy ingredients at a bulk rate, reduce the number of times I am prepping/washing dishes, and gives me an easy meal or two on nights that I know cooking is not an option for, or I need to gift a meal to someone. For example; I make approx 120 meatballs at a time; they last our family at least 4 months.
OH MY GOSH!! Will you come over here and make 100 meatballs for me??!? I love meat balls!! And can’t even imagine the SCENE of looking at 120 of them!! Haha….
You win for my favorite comment of the day ;)
My daughter definitely says there is a difference with nuggets – or as she calls them “Dino Nuggies”……and she is 26! lol
She would work well here with my 3 boys too :)
May I suggest making your own yogurt? Really isn’t hard at all and you don’t need a special appliance to do it. I use a glass dish set on a warming tray; heating pad works, too.
Your kids would probably eat it as-is. I prefer Greek yogurt, myself, so I go the extra step of straining the stuff. Again, keeping it simple: I use a colander* and an old cloth napkin set in a pan. Easy, easy, easy.
The basics at:
*I got the colander from our Buy Nothing Facebook group.
I’m not too sure I have *that* much extra time, lol, but I promise you I will give it a look ;) I feel like half of the recipes I see are super easy to follow, but ONLY when you see it done first so you can learn it… hopefully this one is not that case, but one day I wish someone would just come over and show me stuff and then I can copy them from there!
For our grocery list we use the app Out of Milk. You can sync it between a couple users so my husband and I can both add to the list from our own phones and, assuming I don’t forget my phone when I go to the store, I always have the complete list. I think you could use it to track pricing in the notes area if you want.
Cool! Will look into it!
Aldi! Best place ever. Good quality food for amazing prices. I discovered it 15 years ago and never looked back! Second primitive piece of advice: a magnetic note pad on your fridge. Everyone in your family takes responsibility and when an item is gone, they jot it down there. If they complain because you forgot to buy something you just say “it wasn’t on the list”. Last one: you go grocery shopping only ONCE a week. If you forget something, you just don’t eat that item. It’s way easier to track your food spending when you do it once a week.
Good luck on your new endeavors!
Okay, I am liking ALL OF THESE!! Esp the “you don’t eat it then” part haha… Makes you *appreciate* it all more too that way I bet! So far I’ve been making two trips a week (one big one and then one small one for stuff we ran out of like milk/bananas/etc) but it’s not like we couldn’t do without really? Gonna think on this one a bit.. thanks!
(And yes to the pad on the fridge too! we’ve been using that for years and it felt magical when I’d add something to it and then a few days later it was in the pantry haha… like a magic shopping fairy!! Which I have now been annointed! ;))
My wife and I, both retired, take alternate weeks where we are 100% responsible for meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, serving and clean up after meals. As an engineer of course I do it all digitally, as much as possible, laying out a list of what’s on hand, possible entrees and sides and then cross checking recipes to come up with what I need to buy at the store. I love the idea of allowing one treat on the list and also do that. Every time I grocery shop I put an item in my list that is labeled “something fun”. And I can’t stop shopping until I’ve gotten something not on the list that is just decadent food fun. It might be fancy beef jerky for our next hike, a can of mixed nuts or lobster tails. It isn’t important what it costs, it’s all about the feels.
Yeah it is, lol…
Interesting that you flip flop like that too AND include clean up and everything!! It’s like 100% effort or 0% effort depending on the week, haha, haven’t seen that before.
Following up on the discount groceries…Here’s the Google search to find discount/“salvage” groceries: “salvage grocery stores near me”
Also, there’s a website where they’re mapped out by state: https://www.buysalvagefood.com/
Fetch is great and then you have all your receipts handy in one place that you can go back through for years while working on taxes.
Hah! Awesome… So far I’m only in charge of groceries right now and the occasional dinner, but my plan is to work my way up there and take it ALL over one day… I would be pretty impressed with myself if I can pull it off :)
I’ve been teaching a class monthly since 2008 on how to save with coupons. So much has changed. A few tips:
look at the blogs like Kraxy Coupon Lady and Forthemommas. They do the match ups for you.
Get a deal on newspaper subscription to get paper coupons or ask a friend to give the coupons to you. The date of the circular is on the spine in tiny print. File them whole by date. Toss after 3 months as part of the routine and it won’t be difficult. Then use the blogs to match and just pull and clip from the circular.
Buy one get one sales can stack with buy one get one coupons. It makes both items free.
You can stack a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item, often making it free. I got cereal at CVS freer last week doing that and also stacking an ibotta rebate. Cvs prices are normally too high, but I get things free after coupons.
Enjoy the journey!
Ahhhh that is so crazy that you can get so much stuff for free!! i remember looking into it back in the “extreme couponing” days also around 2008 I believe?, and being so mesmerized… even watched all the shows and met a couple of the “biggies” at conferences! But alas as I wasn’t doing the groceries back then I didn’t pay too much attention… Just blogged about it, lol…
(went through the archives and looks like it was around 2011 when it really took off! have about a dozen posts around extreme couponing actually – maybe I should revisit them all and see what still works these days :))
Archives –> https://budgetsaresexy.com/?s=extreme+couponing
So glad to see a new post from you. I was worried something might be wrong. I’m glad to learn you’re just busy. Good job getting doctor’s appointments for checking things out. People, often men, who don’t to to the doctor can have big problems. I know from family experience.
I’m shocked that you, J. Money, Mr. Money Man, and Mr. Minimalist, has not been involved in grocery shopping and meal planning. You know, of course, that when you plan means, including plan overs (that’s a nicer word for leftovers), you save money.
I also was surprised that you didn’t give more money-saving tips.
Here are 35 from one of my most famous articles: https://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com/the_survive_and_thrive_bo/2020/08/like-many-people-these-days-youre-probably-feeling-the-pinch-of-tough-economic-times-if-youre-looking-for-ways-to-reduce-y.html
Anyway, nice to see a new article. I’ll include it in my newsletter next week.
woohoo – thx!!
hopefully i have more $$$$ tips next time as I’m still very much a noob and basically just trying to survive than anything at this stage 😂
going to bookmark your article now!
UPDATE: “#21. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, or take children with you to the store.” haha… you nailed two of my hard earned lessons in just that one line :) I think #26 and #29 might kill me though…
Another food tip that’s important that isn’t in my 35 suggestions for saving money on food.
The Environmental Working Group offers a Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list every year. They go through USDA records on pesticide residue to make the lists. (This is important. My father, one of those guys who didn’t like going to the doctor, had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is linked to pesticide exposure. He was a farmer. He delayed going to the doctor for months after he began losing weight.)
The idea is that if you can’t afford to buy usually more expensive organic food all the time, then you can choose foods from the Clean 15 list. (But as the EWG says, if you can’t afford to buy any organic produce, don’t skip the fruits and vegetables.)
The EWG just released its 2023 list and added green beans and blueberries to its Dirty Dozen list. Read all about it here: https://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com/the_survive_and_thrive_bo/2023/03/blueberries-and-green-beans-added-to-ewgs-dirty-dozen-list-for-2023.html
EWG suggests printing out a copy of its two lists and taking it with you to the grocery store.
If people put reusable bags in the car like you do, they could put the list in one of the bags.
Happy shopping. Please write more as you learn more. This is such an important topic. I’ve written about it many times over the years.
Acccck we buy so many blueberries!! I literally just ate a handful of them before sitting back here on the computer (!!). But wait – does this include *organic* ones or regular ones?! I think most of the stuff we buy is organic but that’s another thing I need to look into and *remember* more….
I love the idea of adding lists and such to the reusable bags though – i suppose you could also drop in some hand sanitizer as well or anything else that’s handy?!
Organic blueberries are fine. It’s the nonorganic ones that have the pesticide residue.
*wipes sweat from brow*
I totally get the minimalist feeling of tossing food but a lot of expired food is still good to eat. Check out allrecipes for one article.
We have the salvage grocery stores in my home state. If we drive instead of fly, we stock up. Last year we saved hundreds of dollars doing this.