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Posts tagged with: purple cow

Conquering Your Grocery Store

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Someone asked how we keep our grocery bill low despite having a family of six.  It’s actually pretty simple!  Here are the ways we keep our spending down in this area:

 

Have a Plan  

Make a meal plan for the week.  Decide what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Make sure 2-3 of those dinners are super easy for the nights you are ‘too tired to cook’.  Throwing pasta in some water and warming a jar of pasta sauce is easier than a trip to McDonalds.  You’ll save a fortune on dining out if you plan well.  We have a template on a Word doc and at the bottom we keep a list of family favorite meals so if we’re stuck on what to plan for the week, we’ll just grab some of the options from the bottom of the sheet.  Seriously, it sounds exhausting but it usually takes about 20 minutes.  When done, we print it and place it on the fridge so that no matter who is home, they know what the options are for meals.

 

Make a List

We make a list of all the items we’ll need based on the meal plan.  We use Cozi (a super awesome family scheduling app) to create the list and we leave on items we purchase every week like milk, eggs, fruits, veggies, etc.  That way, we won’t forget a staple item.  Since Cozi is an app shared by our entire family, it’s accessible to everyone online or on a smart phone.  We used to use old fashioned paper lists but we always seemed to forget it or the wrong person had it.  Using an app make our life so much easier!

 

Shop Online

We were online grocery shoppers before online shopping became cool during the pandemic.  The grocery items we purchase from Vons online are more expensive than the ones we buy in the store (even if they say they aren’t).  We buy large two packs of salad for $6 online when the bright orange sticker on the front clearly says $5.  Why would we knowingly spend more online? Here’s the scoop, you aren’t tempted by impulse buys when you buy online.  Grocers aren’t monsters but they are fantastic at tempting you with things you don’t need. You probably don’t even realize it!  Online, I use the search bar at the top and refuse to look at anything else on the page.  Search, click the item, search, click the item, and repeat until done.  We consistently spend 20-30% less each week online.

 

Stick to Your List

There are times we can’t do online shopping especially when we are on the road.  There have been millions spent on the psychology of your shopping habits.  You aren’t likely to win.  In those times, we only allow ourselves 3 things that aren’t on the list.  If you set a limit on impulse buys, you’ll realize how many you were going to throw in your cart.

 

Hopefully this helps!  Happy shopping!

Finding the Perfect Staycation Destination

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Planning the Perfect Staycation

After nearly a year of travel restrictions and social distancing measures, we are all hoping for some good news. As many of us continue to stay home and stay safe, it is difficult to remain optimistic. Every cancelled vacation, holiday, and get-together with friends and family chisels away at the belief that we will return to “normal” life anytime soon. However, finding the perfect staycation destination may be exactly what the doctor prescribed.

Reasons for Planning a Staycation during Covid-19

My roommate and I have been fortunate enough to work from home since the pandemic began. However, I have also witnessed firsthand how the lack of separation between work and home life affects a person. Even when we are not on the clock, we are both constantly checking in on things at work. Not only does this blur the line between your personal and professional life, but it also makes it nearly impossible to unplug from your work responsibilities. It is easy to understand how people feel trapped and why it is necessary to break up the monotony.

Recognizing the impact on her mental well-being, my roommate decided it was time to plan a staycation. At first, I was shocked when she told me that she had accrued over 100 hours of PTO. But, it became easier to understand as she recounted every reason she had for not using it. In addition to the inability to travel as freely as we could pre-coronavirus, it is difficult to take time off within her department. Working on a small team means she has to coordinate around her coworkers’ schedules, especially with many of them using PTO over the holidays.

Hearing her litany of excuses emboldened me to help her find the perfect staycation destination. After juggling the increased workload and burden placed upon her shoulders, she was long overdue for some R&R.

Possible Staycation Accommodations

The first step in choosing the perfect staycation destination was to determine the budget. Given the fact that she has not gone anywhere in the last year, my roommate was willing to spend a little extra. With a list of required amenities and a mid-range price point of $150 a night, I set out to find the ideal accommodations beginning with my favorite site, TripAdvisor.

Splurging on Luxury ($250 – $1000 per night)

From my experience, I prefer the top-down approach when searching for accommodations. I start with luxury hotels because many of the resorts and unique hotels are destinations in and of themselves. While the majority of them are well outside the spending limit, sometimes you get lucky and find deep discounts within your price range.

Although most of the high-end hotels were still too expensive, I was able to find some interesting options. Since fewer people are traveling these days, many hotels are lowering their prices to attract guests. I came across rooms with themes, private pools, and spa tubs all within her budget. Some even included spa treatments in the price of the room. However, I pressed on to see how far I could stretch her budget and get the most bang for her buck.

Hotel ($60 – $300 per night)

Rather than splurging on the most expensive lodgings, I focused on properties that included more amenities with their room rates. There were a plethora of listings that offered extra incentives. Several added free breakfast at no additional cost. Furthermore, many hotels also had huge discounts for their upgraded room. Suites, upgraded views, and in-room jacuzzis or spa tubs were only slightly more expensive than the standard rooms. Within a few minutes, I had located a suite at a well-known chain with all the required amenities for only $115 a night. Although I was tempted to stop my search here, I decided to also look at private listings before booking.

Airbnb ($35 – $1000 per night)

I have used Airbnb several times and stayed at private residences around the globe. While I enjoy the hotel experience, sometimes you can find hidden gems worthy of a postcard. Not only do you get more privacy, but there are properties to fit every budget. With accommodations ranging from a private room to entire estates, there truly is something for everyone. This time round, I was inundated with listings in my price range. It took a little more fine-tuning than usual, but I found some amazing places to stay. Topping the list was a private 4-bedroom home in the historic district that even included its own hot tub. All this came with an attractive price tag of only $112 a night. I now had two extremely affordable options that had everything my roommate was looking for, and then some.

A Quiet Retreat at Home (Free!)

For those looking for the economic option, you can plan a relaxing staycation at home. Not only is it free, but some people, like my roommate, just feel more comfortable in their own space. Moreover, you can avoid the stress of having to pack or book accommodations. If you want to make a true vacation of it, you may choose not to tell anyone to ensure you that you get some alone time. Planning a staycation at home will also allow you time to do all the things you talk about doing but never seem to have the time to do. However, you must be careful not to give into temptation and check-in at the office. Otherwise, it completely defeats the purpose of planning a staycation.

Why You Should Plan a Staycation

The truth is that we could all benefit from taking a break from the pressures of daily life. Choosing to plan a staycation over a destination vacation also removes the stress and expense of traveling. You also have more time to enjoy yourself since you spend less time actually traveling to your destination. Once presented with these options, my roommate chose to book a few nights at the hotel to ensure more separation from the demands of work and home.

How you choose to spend your time off is entirely up to you. Whether you use it for pleasure, catching up on your to-do list, or reconnect with loved ones, it is important to take time for yourself.

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