Monday, May 9, 2011

Yahoo news reported that the Middle class is still being squeezed

Right out of existence , if their economist is to be believed.

The life that is being envisioned for me is not the life that I planned for myself. I am sure that is true for many other people. I don't see myself on the shores of the Cumberland River , living in a mud hut , hammering together sandals for an overseas company. Its just not in me. I won't do it. But I am alarmed that they are now predicting that the economy won't be fixed till 2018. That is seven months and 2 National elections away,which is unacceptable. I would be about 68 years old . I did the right things , went to college, have a good work record, and moved into an area where ,until recently, I could manage without credit cards and many loans.

 So I have become an advocate for life  modification not deprivation. Deprevation only leads to depression and exhaustion. Have I made cuts in my life? Yes, I cut cable off and took Clearwire as my internet provider. I watch everything on the computer , a day or so later from the networks or choose just those I enjoy and pay Amazon for the episode. It is still less expensive than cable or satellite. The cuts hurt me less than it has those who escalated prices beyond a reasonable cost. Do the math, I might spend $10 per month at Amazon , $24 for Netflix and $52.00 for Clearwire. $86.vs $140 for cable. I am seeing everything that I saw before the cuts. I am actually seeing more than previously seen. I am happy with that. For those with families , there are boxes that will transfer the programming to your tv.

Now let me show you a little trick. I pay Clearwire $52.00 for service per month . Now , what would you think if I told you that I actually pay them $26.00 per month? Here is how. Because I do the paid blog, and spend much time researching and writing, I allocated 50% of my internet bill as a business expense(based on time ) . I am not charging back apartment space , though I could ,based on home office, but IRS is hard on home offices and it is better to underreport. Still this is a savings of an additional $320 per year just for internet. Everything helps. I have to put out the money first but at the end of the year, my Netflix is offset , therefore free. I have $2 left and can have 6 bags of dollar store popcorn (Microwave popcorn) , or chocolate ice cream and (thawed ) frozen strawberries (see article that follows) per month.

I just submitted my second article for the internet publication , Examiner. Enclosed is the link for the column.:

I had answered an ad on for part time independant contractor work. They say that they pay standard rate - so I figure about a penny a word as that is what I have seen elsewhere. They are very clear that this will not support you . Still , I figured that anything helps ( they pay through paypal and I am happy about that) and it gives me experiance with working with editors That was another thing that I considered to be valuable.

Balance needs and wants. This is your one and only life, and quality counts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Indulgence of Budget Grocery Shopping

Budget grocery shopping need not be a punishment, No, wait, it should not be a punishment. Everything in life is a form of Challenge . You are capable of meeting that Challenge. The solution is not a sentence of 22 days of  unadulterated ramen noodles for $4.80 so that you can put gas into your vehicle. The slow economy ( made slower, I believe by the media touting the slow economy ) need not sentence you to a life of peanut butter sandwiches on white bread. Before you reach for your credit card and spend $20 that you could put to better use, make a list. What do you like to eat? Now , beside that , make a second list. What have you been buying because its on sale, marked down , or you have a coupon? Are the lists the same ? Because they should be pretty close to identical. If they aren't , then there is something wrong.

Think back to when you were a child and Mother put something that , maybe you did not like so much on your plate. (If this never happened to you , rent Mommy Dearest, and pay special attention to the steak scene.) There was a feeling of frustration because you could not do or get to something that you liked better without consuming the thing on the plate. Guess what , you are doing the same thing to yourself everytime you deny yourself what you  like for what is okay and on sale.

This week I had baked chicken , Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwiches(modified) , strawberry shortcake , sausage biscuits, steak with baked potato and green salad,  grilled cheese sandwiches,bacon cheese burgers and hamburger bean and green bean casserole. And I only spent $25 for 2 weeks. I shopped specials at local markets.

The bread for my sandwiches all came from Pepperidge Farm. I had their Ancient Grains and their Soft Oatmeal , both marked down to 99 sents each. The cheese was real not product and I had Swiss and Mild Cheddar. I paid $4.99 for 6 lbs of chicken. If you don't have fistsful of money to throw into the grocery store, you are going to have to invest time.

Flyers tell part of the story but if you are a good food detective, there are sometimes unadvertised specials in the store. Poke around. I found a head of butter lettuce for a dime at my local market. It wasn't advertised and was in good shape. If you don't tell and are selective in your purchases, neither will the food.

I do recommend a list but be flexible with it. Its a road map to keep you on track . Ask yourself what elements you want to eat.I am not talking high school chemistry but flavor elements. I mentioned the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich. What foods does the original recipe have ? Chicken ,ham, cheese-usually Swiss, Dijon mustard with a breaded coating. My sandwich is 2 pieces whole grained bread, toasted, on one piece , spread some commercial ham salad( was 99 cents at Reese Market in Madison),
top this with some leftover baked chicken strips from the breast, top with Swiss cheese and the other piece of toasted bread. ( I pretoasted my bread because I packed it for lunch where I nuked it for 30 seconds in the microwave- it was very nice. If you are eating this at home, you could fry it like a grilled cheese.) . What other things can be made by combining the same flavors if not the cost of your favorite foods. Remember if it rots in the refrigerator , its not a bargain.

Luxury is in mouth feel. If its creamy and delicious , it is. Your brain doesn't care that it wasn't five dollars but $1.50. The strawberries for my shortcake were an unadvertised special . My shortcake cost me $1.50 per serving and was many fresh strawberries, biscuits( from a can ), and whipped cream (from a can.) It was big, it was beautiful and it felt so good in my mouth. Learn to trick your pallet. Its not what you can't have but how you can have your favorites at lower cost. It doesn't feel like depravation if it looks and tastes indulgent.