Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pantry talk - living the pantry lifestyle

I only have a few minutes before another household member gets this computer. So... today's post will be short and sweet... continued (hopefully) tomorrow.

Living without an income for over a year (twice) and now living with a monthly check that doesn't cover food changed the way I look at spending for everything. That's why I'm calling this living the "pantry lifestyle". As money comes in, I have places for it to go as well as setting some aside for those items I can't place in the pantry... milk, fresh eggs, greens, etc.

For instance, my husband received an additional week of bonus for his work at the bookstore in January. That was a nice (and needed) surprise. It coincided with the same week when one grocery store had my favorite brand of canned tomatoes at buy one get one free and Kroger had my favorite frozen veggies on their 10 for $10.00 sale. I bought $20.00 worth of canned tomatoes and $30.00 worth of frozen veggies along with basic groceries. I don't pay full price (ever) for that brand of canned tomatoes. I rarely pay full price for frozen veggies.

I'll write more tomorrow about how I grocery shop for the pantry but today I wanted to spend a little more time sharing how we spend for other items. I've talked a lot about the Priority List already. When my husband did our taxes this year, we were thrilled to see we're getting a fairly good amount back (only because we qualified for a credit and even though we can no longer take Christopher as an exemption).

Hubby asked me what I needed most from the refund and I told him to stock up the freezer a little more and to (finally) buy new sandals. They have been going down on the priority list too long. Because of the diabetes, my doctor does not like me to wear sandals but I get away with them by wearing only SAS sandals (the only brand of shoes I can wear, except for good quality walking/running shoes).

SAS shoes are expensive. I've found one pair of their "granny" type at Goodwill but never sandals. Mine I now own are probably 120 yrs. old in shoe years so they're not doing my feet much good. They have gone to the top of my priority list and except for hopefully finding a $10.00 off coupon... they are full price.

I have learned the value of some items, those that are worth full price when I can't find them off the financial grid. For example, I have checked Trisha Yearwood's new cookbook out of the library three times. I now know it is full of good recipes similar and the same to how I cook. I'm going to use my Amazon credit to purchase it next time the credit comes in (it is too new to be deeply discounted at used stores).

So, why use my credit for a cookbook? That's part of the pantry way of thinking. What value do I put on an item? Stop to think about it... how much money is finding a favorite recipe to add to your collection? If I found just one new recipe (and I already know there are many since I've taken it out of the library), then $20.00 over the course of the years I use the recipe is a bargain.

I have done the same thing with a couple cooking magazine each Holiday Season. Those magazines that feature all baking, or all casseroles, or all "best of"... sometimes costing as much as $9.00 but once again... how much is a new family favorite worth over its' lifetime.

Now, don't get me wrong, this kind of expenditure is very rare. I check out cookbooks from the library if I need a new idea and head for that section at library sales where they are available for one or two dollars. However, when I find one that is full of good recipes then I consider it part of my research library for my career as the family's chef.

I thought it interesting that Amy (Tightwad Gazette) uses her pantry and cookbooks the same way I do (more about that tomorrow).

Back when Stephanie was little, I took two classes in flower arranging at a florist shop in Holland (Michigan). They were a little pricey at the time but I've used what I learned in those classes for over twenty years now. Talk about value! I wish I'd taken a cake decorating class back then, too. I know Laine (Laine's Letters) has shared about how many times she has used the skills learned in her cake decorating class.

(Which reminds me, a few of you asked for copies of the latest Laine's Letter and I didn't get back to you before the computer crash. I thought I had kept it in the Gmail archives but I couldn't find it and I had been looking if I'd kept it elsewhere. It obviously is not on this machine... I'll look again when my computer is back.)

I know there are all different ways to look at the value of our time and money. In the 1980's, when we were a two career couple, we had more money than time so we ate out a great deal... especially on the weekends with breakfast out and Sunday brunch after church. We have great memories of those times. In that case, money eating out was well spent. :)

I know this must be rather "hit and miss" but I hope it describes a little about how I make expenditures. It's not all that different than when most of society was agricultural and received most of their payment when their crops came in each year... one had to plan carefully... purchase what was needed (along with Godly desires) the most when available... and then know there may be months at a time when the only income was from selling eggs to the store in town. (Hmmm... have I been reading the Little House books too much?)

Okay, I warned you these posts would be "off the top of my head" prose. Now, I must hand over the computer to the next in line. :)


Beth said...

Brenda, I don't remember what Christopher's situation is with a job, etc...but you might want to check again to be sure you can't claim him as a dependent.

I thought we couldn't claim our daughter because she is now 19, and is not going to school full-time. But when I read the instructions through carefully I realized that we could still claim her as a "dependent relative" this year even though she's not eligible to be a "dependent child".

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it's something to do with how much income the child makes and how much of their support you provided in the last year. My daughter will most likely make more than the limit next year, if the Lord continues to bless her with work, but this year she was definitely under the limit. And since she lives at home and we pay for her insurance, food, etc. we do provide the majority of her support still.

You are very financially savvy so you've probably looked into this already...but I would hate for you to miss out on the deduction if you could possibly take it.

scrappy quilter said...

Another great post Brenda. I thoroughly enjoy reading what you write. Always a great deal of wisdom.

the pleasures of homemaking said...

I do the same with cookbooks. I usually check them out from the library and if I find one that has lots of recipes that I like I buy it. Only I've learned that if I'm patient all cookbooks eventually wind up at my local Goodwill. Just like eventually every bestseller winds up there too. It may be a year later it may be two. People always move on to the newest latest thing! I'm lucky I have a pretty good Goodwill!
I've been using your "priority list" idea ever since you mentioned it last year.


martha said...

I've gotten some nice, new s.a.s. sandals on ebay quite reasonably. Currently there's also some s.a.s. coupons available there.