Never realized Safeway was so expensive

The above table shows price differences between Safeway and my local produce market.
I have always shopped at Safeway for my groceries. Over the years people have said to me that they found Safeway expensive and I never really thought so. Now, of course Safeway is more expensive than Superstore but I don't care to buy my fresh foods at SS.

A year or so ago a produce market opened up right down the street from me and their prices are unbelievably good. Sometimes you can only buy small amouts of produce at a time as the items are sometimes very close to ripe, but most things last for a number of days, just like the produce at Safeway.
I can't believe the difference in some of these prices, particularly the organic salad kits and the sugar snap peas.

Dollar Stores sure have come a long way

I find that the larger dollar stores like Everything for a Dollar and Dollarama in particular have some great bargains to be had. Now, of course there are some things that I would not pay $1 for as the quality just isn't there but here are some of the things I regularly buy at the $ Store:

  • generic Woolite/Zero

  • generic Comet

  • coffee filters

  • gift wrap/bags/boxes, cards and tissue paper

  • crushed garlic

  • juice glasses

  • gum

  • plastic baskets to organize drawers

  • bubble envelopes for packing items sold on ebay

  • batteries for my many remote controls

  • brand name DVD-R's (Sony, Maxell)

I am sure there are more items that are not coming to mind right now. I think the biggest savings for me have been on the gift bags and cards as the $ Store is so much cheaper than Hallmark.

One has to be careful though as it is easy to be enticed to buy more "stuff" than what you came for at a $ Store so shop wisely.

Staying on track on the weekend

The weekends are the hardest time for me to keep spending and eating right in check.

Since going to Dinner Revolution Meal Assembly a week ago and bringing home good, nutritious meals that just need to be taken out of the freezer and cooked, my eating has been a lot better. It is quick and for someone like me who works two jobs, quick is of utmost importance. I had thought of trying out these meal assembly places before but always thought they would be too expensive. Then I saw Gail, TDDUP, recommend these places to one of the couples on her show and I knew they couldn't be that bad if she thought it was a good idea. Thanks Gail!

On the spending front it has been a good weekend. I worked yesterday and did buy food ($12) as I just didn't feel like eating the lunch I brought with me. I don't expect to spend much today either as the only things I need to run out for are produce from the local produce market, which is considerably cheaper than the supermarkets, and coffee filters from the Dollar Store.

I'm thinking of maybe taking in a cheap movie at the dollar theater this afternoon for something to do.

Excellent advice from Gale Vaz Oxlade

I was so very surprised to see that Gail from TDDUP posted on my blog with some very sound advice. I respect her so very much and to have her take the time to write means a lot to me. I don't know if she'll ever be back to see my reply.

Her concern was that I may be allocating too much money to debt repayment and not enough to the emergency fund, fun category and savings. I have a large, 6 figure, retirement nest egg and continue to put 10% of my income toward my retirement each month. I have over one full month's worth of expenses in my chequing account at all times as I live on last month's money (month-end pay for July will be for September's expenses as August's money is already in the bank) and I have a misc. emergency account of $1000. I do allow room in my budget for "fun" such as dinners out with the girls, taking in a movie from time to time, spending a fun Saturday morning with a friend at the Farmer's Market with brunch to follow, a monthly facial, etc. I actually think I might allow myself too much "fun" money and may need to trim this back a bit. I also have a savings account that I put $75/month into that is not earmarked for anything in particular, though could become my vacation fund.

I do agree that the emergency fund could and should be larger and this is something I will concentrate on, likely by trimming back the "fun" money, while still allowing myself room for entertainment.

Cracking down on debt repayment

My HELOC has now been funded and I have paid off the other, smaller, LOCs I had and that feels great. I know that the debt is just transferred to another place but it is now at a far lower interest rate. I have formed a plan of attack for dealing with this debt and that is to put a minimum of $1200 toward the debt each month, which will see the $19K paid off in just over one year. I then plan to continue making those payments and snowball them will the payments that go toward the mortgage portion of the HELOC, which would see the balance paid off in just a few short years. Knowing that I could be completely debt and mortgage free in just a few years is very exciting.

It seems silly but I am looking forward to Aug 1 when my first payment is due.

Dinner Revolution

So tonight I tried out one of those meal assembly places I wrote about earlier.

It was enjoyable and quick. Some of the dishes were not worth the cost but most were just for the sheer convenience.

I'll probably do this again.

Eating to Live not Living to Eat

I love food as much, or maybe more, than the next person. However, I am trying to trim my waistline as well as the costs associated with take out and eating at restaurants.

I was quite surprised to see on "Til Debt Do Us Part" that financial guru, Gail Vaz Oxlade, recommended that one couple go to one of those places where all the prep work is done and you just go assemble your meals and take them home to freeze. I always figured that these places were pretty costly but if Gail recommends it then it can't be that bad. I do suppose it makes financial sense as these places, while more expensive than doing it all on your own at home, are still less expensive, and the food more nutritious, than dining out all the time.

I am going to check these places out and sign up. My boss who was terminated a week after I started talked about the office going and doing this for a "fun day" but she got the axe and we never went.

I picked up a few groceries at Safeway tonight and spent $24.27. I saved $4.20 in Safeway Club Card Savings and $6.29 in coupons, for a total savings of $10.49.

Another inexpensive weekend

This was another weekend where I didn't spend much at all. I worked yesterday at my part-time job and did buy lunch and dinner, which came to $30 combined. Last night and this afternoon I did my third mystery shopping assignment so I made money rather than spending it. I am now taking a break from writing up the mystery shopping reports. I have two to go. I've done two rather large mystery shopping assignments and one quick one that only requried me to make one phone call and combined I have made $158.50.

Of all the things I had to buy at this store, I will only be keeping a mascara, which I needed and the assignment will more than cover the cost of. All other items will be returned over the next couple days.

I do need to go out this evening and pick up a few groceries and I expect that to come in at under $30. I also need to take my weekly allowance out of the bank.

Fairly Inexpensive Weekend

Aside from the costs associated with re-doing the bathroom, I had a fairly inexpensive weekend. I didn't venture far from home so saved three days worth of gas (I usually have to fill up on Tuesdays but today still have 1/4 tank which will last two more days). I picked up some great, fresh food at the Farmer's Market Saturday morning and ate that all weekend so that kept me from getting take out.

I picked up groceries today and spent appox. $42, which is well within the budget.

Overall, it was a productive, inexpensive four day long weekend.

I *almost* did a stupid, impulsive thing today. I was thisclose to buying a $650 Louis Vuitton handbag but I resisted. I mean really, do I need another handbag? No. And a $650 one at that? Definitely not.