You wanna know my grocery secrets, do you?
You wanna know how I feed my family of five on under four hundred bucks a month?
Lots and lots of practice.
Seriously, though. I'll start at the beginning. Are you sitting down?
Once upon a time before I was married or had children, I lived completely alone, just me and my cat, teaching elementary school children by day and vegging out on a comfy air mattress watching that new-fangled Friends sitcom by night. It was 1994 and it was the first time I'd ever lived alone. It was also the first time I was totally financially alone. I had a good job. I made pretty good money for a teacher, but alas, I had a new car payment, a new adjustable rate mortgage, and I liked to shake my early-twenty-something booty on the dance floor every weekend at a cool bar that required a hefty cover charge (five bucks, but, really! Five bucks?). I also liked air conditioning and being able to dry my hair in the morning and who knew THAT cost so much money?? Well, my dad because he reminded us daily for over eighteen years, but it had never been more apparent than the moment my first electricity bill arrived.
Man, I thought I was rich when I tore open those fold here and tear strips on my first "real" paycheck. 888.50. Oh. My. Gawd. I deposited $600 of it for my mortgage payment ($600 bucks?) and cashed the rest on the way to the fancy mall and blew it in one afternoon. I still have the blueberry Yankee Candle that was, oh, so necessary at that time. Boy that smell really takes me back.....
Oh, well, anyway, yada, yada, I was rich or so I thought and then realized, hey, I don't have any money left after I pay all these bills and staying home on a Friday night just wasn't an option and I couldn't drink beer on my friend's alimony payment forever.
So something had to give.
I wasn't that hungry back then so the groceries were the first to go. That and my work required physical showed my cholesterol to be 238 which, apparently, is pretty crazy for a 24ish year old. The first thing I did was give up meat. I ate only fruits and vegetables. I checked the cholesterol on every label and subsequently gave up many of the tasty and expensive snacks I so enjoyed. I kicked the soda habit that had been dragging me down for years. I began drinking tap water. In an old Mountaineer bottle. All day. You know, because this was before the bottled water craze began, you know, because I am OLD. I never did have my cholesterol rechecked, but I felt better. And I had a little more money in the pocketbook.
And then. Then my friend quit receiving alimony and introduced me to coupons.
Cue the trumpets and fanfare because, ALL HAIL THE COUPONS!
OMG! How did I NOT know about these things before?
1995. The year Andria learned how to shop.
To be continued........
Day One Hundred Eighty-Eight
12 hours ago