Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome to the Affluent Pauper

My name is Gayle. I have a husband and two kids and we live in a normal working-class suburb in the greater-Atlanta area of Georgia. My personal mission is to find ways for families to save money on everyday things so that we can all put our hard-earned cash to better use. I’ve so far found some pretty cool ways to spend less on everyday items and want to share my findings with others.

This quest for savings came about recently as a result of two things.

First, like a lot of people, we’ve recently gone through some tough times financially due to unfortunate circumstances and we needed to figure out how to drastically cut down on what we would normally consider "essentials".

Secondly, I watched a show on Oprah about Freegans (people who dig through trash for free stuff in order to cut down on consumerism) and for a split second imagined myself in a dumpster at the back of Walmart one starry night in search of free stuff so that I could feed my family on a budget. Although it would probably take truly desperate measures for me to dig through the trash at the back of a grocery store, it made me wonder. Could I use less? Could I spend less? How is it that I am spending so much on groceries while there are larger families out there that live on much less than we do?

There are a lot of books written on trimming budgets and learning to live within your means. A lot has been said about “the latte factor” (if you cut out your daily dose of Starbucks – you could put X amount in to retirement each year, etc.). But what about those of us that don’t do Starbucks every day? What about those of us that cook at home and avoid takeout as much as possible? What about those of us that don’t spend inordinate amounts on entertainment? What about those of us who are sitting back trying to figure out how to cut money on simple things like our grocery bill when we still have two kids at home in diapers? I feed my family leftovers. I make my own yogurt. I try to be a thrifty buyer too, but that grocery bill is still a large line item - what gives?

Well, I did manage to cut down that seemingly never-ending grocery bill. Have you ever gone to the store at the beginning of the week and realized that you don’t have much cash that week, so you’re only going to buy the essentials and next thing you know you’re handing the Walmart cashier $50 for two or three bags of stuff? No more! Next time I write, I’m going to tell you how I’ve started saving at least 50-75% on my grocery bill while still shopping at the same stores and buying the same brands. There are families all over the country implementing a very simple and clever method to save.

Until next time… be well!

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