Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Grocery Bill Cut by $5,000

(That's the headline my husband would write... Me- notsomuch...

A funny thing happened in early December.  After 11 months, I FINALLY appreciated the task my husband introduced to me as a 2012 New Year's Resolution.

It was then that HE was told about strategic grocery shopping and bought Coupon Mom's book for ME.  At the time, I was not-at-all appreciative.  It seemed like one more thing to do, one more thing to organize, and one more thing to be held accountable for... or (for the grammar-minded) for which to be held accountable.

I would procrastinate getting onto her website to check-mark the sale items, I would huff and puff having to carry the laptop over to the printer to print my checked items out.  I hated finding and cutting the coupons out.  I didn't like expending the mental energy during the looong grocery trips (compared to what I was used to).  A couple of times I remember getting 2/3 way through the store and having the overwhelming feeling to leave my cart.  And once or twice I would stop mid-trip, check out, and then go back to finish the next day.  But that was only once or twice.

I wanted my "old" way of going to the market every other day or so for "a few items" (do I live in Italy, Under the Tuscan Sun??)... not my once-every seven-days (or even once every two weeks) big ol' cart overflowing.

What I find interesting is that my motivation to continue was not the money saved each trip (about $90 each time).  Instead, it was coming home and having Adam say, "Wow, you really are doing great with this!"  Or the lady in line behind me one time who exclaimed, "$90!!  You saved $90!!  You should head to Nordstrom right now and get a new pair of shoes!"

I also love when my friends (or total strangers) would ask me questions.  I love telling them what worked for me.

And I guess that's the good news!  Now, it does work for me!  After a year of doing the process and changing my ways, I finally feel like it has become a lifestyle.

Adam calculated our savings in 2012 to be $5,000!!  We saved an average of $420/month using this process.  Again, sounds great, makes me feel good, but doesn't give me as much satisfaction as explaining to my family, friends and neighbors how they can start saving, too!

If you still have questions after reading these posts below, let me know!

Post #1 New Year Resolution

Post #2 Couponing for Normal People

Post #3 Couponing for Normal People Part 2

Post #4 Couponing for Normal People Part 3

Post #5 It Really Works, A Strategic Shopping Update

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Documenting Our Family (Part Two)

Where are your photos?

Digital netherworld (yep, that's me!), printed in envelopes, printed in boxes, printed in albums, burned on CD/DVD?

Organizing Your Photos

I have found that I am not that inspired by digital images on my computer.  I really need to see them in my hot, little hands.  Not that my hands are usually hot... or little...

So those people who print their photos at Walgreens every few months really knew what they were doing!  Since I have VERY FEW printed photos (considering the thousands on my computer), my first step was organizing them digitally.  Which I have done pretty well (by year and then folders by month) until you consider that as I've upgraded cameras, I've crashed computers so things have been moved around.

Before we moved to Richmond, I bought a Terra drive (external hard drive My Book) for around $100.  But whoever helped me back up that bad boy really set up to be more confusing than it has to be.

So tonight I spent some time following this nice lady's advice on how to simply organize the digital photos.  By year and season is also what I'll be doing with any prints eventually with Photo Freedom.

So now I have a tupperware box with some printed photos, a few albums with some printed photos, Shutterfly website with hopefully all the photos (when I used to send the albums out, I might have edited quantity?), Archival DVDs with everything Shutterfly has, the MY Book external hard drive, and a couple of years in iphoto.

It sounds like a mess but It's kind of as organized as it can be?  This is why I'm looking forward to printing the pictures out... to see what I have to work with!

Documenting Our Family (Part One)

One of Mary Fowler's MyPublisher pages

And one of Davis's

After thinking things over for the past few years, here are my thoughts:

1.  Pictures are MY key to MEMORIES.

I, personally, am reminded of SO much when I see a photo.  I joke with Adam that if there isn't a photo of it, it didn't happen.  But maybe I'm not really joking!  The everyday things are my favorite.  And I'm pretty good at remembering to photograph them.  The hard part came when I realized that my picture of Mary Fowler eating a bagel sandwich at Einstein Bros. Bagels won't mean much without my "journaling" (don't get nervous, it's just a fancy term for words/ thoughts/ ideas/ memories) alongside it.  Without my words, the picture would probably be trashed- no special holiday, no one's birthday, not a particularly great photo in not a very fancy place.

The reason I care about that particular photo is because it reminds me of my mom keeping me home from school... just because.  We'd go out to lunch and I would feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  My mom not only loved me but wanted to do little, special things for me!  And I feel like a good mom when I do those same things for my daughter.  I was recently reminded why this is SO  important to me.  I was talking to my mom and she said she didn't remember one of my favorite outings: taking me to a restaurant in the lobby of a hotel.  I remember ordering tuna salad and it was okay, but they put sweet relish in it and I remember thinking my mom makes the best tuna salad- it's not sweet!!

The things that are important for one person are not necessarily important for another so the "journaling" makes the difference.  Plus, looking back through our happy memories makes me happy so I want to be able to do that in paper form- not browsing through the computer.

2.  Chronology is not my bag, baby.

After a LOT of thought, I have decided that I do not want to just pick up a scrapbook or photo book labeled 2008 and browse that year.  Chronology is just not that interesting to me.  Now, perhaps if I HAD kept up, I would feel differently about that... but... here I am.

Similarly, I need a 3 ring binder-like system so that I can work on things out of order, as I feel inspired.   The two albums I have for the kids now are post-bound and if you catch one page out of order, it is a b*tch to get it back together.

Several times I have wanted to be able to get my hands on all the photos I have for one particular person.  When my grandfather died and we were trying to get a lot of photos together, I had to look though years/ months/ events trying to remember which pictures he was likely to be in.

3.  I really am hoping that Photo Freedom is the organization method I need.  PEOPLE we love, THINGS we do, All about US, PLACES we go.

After several years, I do still love my How Fast Time Flies (via My now) pages.  I think they're classic, tidy, modern, pretty, and very flat (unlike traditional scrapbooking-embellished pages).  I do find myself and my family looking though those albums as opposed to the 3 or 4 regular photo albums of slide-in photos I did when Mary Fowler was first born.

Here's hoping that using the Photo Freedom method will get me combining photos with words in the way my brain and heart want to tell the story.