Preparedness

I grew up in the country.

We were a single car family for a lot of my childhood so my mother went to town just once a week to do all her shopping. Back then, gas stations were closed on Sundays and there wasn’t a Dollar General in every hamlet across the country so, if you ran out of something, you likely did without until the next grocery trip.

I still live in the country but work in a town with a pharmacy, grocery, hardware and a couple of dollar stores. However, I attempt to limit my stops at the store, making a point to never need anything.

There are always plenty of supplies in my home – from toilet paper and rice to frozen vegetables and cat litter, I try to always have a supply of essentials on hand. This is especially true in the winter because you never know when you might be snowed in for a few days.

That’s probably why it’s so shocking to me to realize that other people don’t do this. Those who keep only a five day supply of food on hand are not my people. Those who could eat out of their pantry and freezer for a few months are.

And no, I’m not a hoarder – I tend to only keep what I can use – and bargain shop to get it. After all, if you don’t need something today, you can afford to wait for a sale later.

So I’ve been watching with interest as friends fearfully stock up on supplies like it’s a fresh concept. Last night I made one of my two monthly trips to Walmart. The goal was to pick up regular list items and to gather a few extra supplies I would need in a time of sickness or quarantine – Morningstar sausage patties, vegan chocolate chips, tissues, Clorox wipes, and cat food were on the list.

After all, if the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, we can’t have Scout going hungry!

You can see where people’s priorities are. As I suspected, the selection of toilet paper was picked over and the shelves nearly cleared of soap, Clorox wipes, bleach and other cleaning supplies.

The store seemed busier than it should be on a Tuesday night and it made me wonder if people are just out doing their normal thing or if they’re stocking up for the COVID-19 which will inevitably hit all our neighborhoods soon.

In case you’re looking for some friendly advice, I suggest always keeping the house stocked as though you might not be able to leave for a few days – not because of this virus but because things happen. Your car breaks down, you get a nasty stomach bug, there’s a snowstorm- any number of things could keep you at home at any time.

That means it’s always a good idea to have soap for hand washing and food for the whole family including the four legged kids.

And one last thing, fellow adventurers. Stay safe but don’t live in terror. Practice good hygiene and protect your personal space in public. If you’re sick, don’t go places where you might spread germs like work, public events or school. And if you know someone with a weakened immune system, offer to run their errands so they don’t have to be exposed to the germs of the masses.

But please, don’t stop living for fear of illness. Go live your life and do your thing within reason. This too shall pass.

Money Revelations

There’s this post going around Facebook that asks a very simple question.

What does it take to blow $10,000 a year? Just $27.40 of unnecessary spending in a day.

You probably are saying you don’t blow $27.40 a day and that may be true. However, most people don’t realize how much small purchases add up. Whether it’s buying more food than you can use before it spoils, picking up clearance clothes just because they’re cheap, or eating out when you could eat food from home, most people are wasting at least some money every week.

Those small purchases do add up.

If you shop for entertainment or comfort, your weekly waste would probably shock you.

I did a No Spend Challenge in January and have continued the challenge off and on beyond the original 31 day commitment. This is partly because I’m trying to save for adventure season (which will be here soon!) and partly because it’s become so natural to question spending temptations.

This challenge was designed to reset my spending and consumption habits after the gluttony of the holidays. It’s also great for quieting my mind, fostering a sense of gratitude and for coping with some bad habits.

One thing I have learned is that the more time I spend in a store, the more money I spend.

Case in point – I have saved a ton of money by reducing my Walmart trips to just twice a month. I despise Walmart but have to live in the world I wake up in and that world is a place saturated by Walmart.

It’s the cheapest place around to get Scout’s cat food and supplies so I go twice a month for these things and for a few other items that I can only buy there. But each trip always results in impulse buys and it doesn’t matter if the trips are two weeks apart or two days apart.

In this store I develop a kind of amnesia where I can never remember if I have enough shampoo and where I’m certain the dish soap is nearly gone. And then I notice socks on clearance and that cute Pioneer Woman scoop that’s perfect for my laundry detergent and things fall apart rather quickly. The next thing you know, I have gathered $30 worth of cheap socks, shampoo and pecans that I don’t need.

And I’ve always been ok with this because I believe in having a stocked pantry and in keeping myself in a place that I never have to buy anything. However, you can only use so much stuff.

Guys, $30 will fill the tank of my Nerdmobile and a tank of gas will take this fuel efficient car far from home.

So I’m training myself to ask more questions. Is that lunch out or clearance junk worth skipping an adventure?

Not only that, I want to retire without worry someday. Is it worth working longer just to have that stuff in my cart?

Nope. No. No way. It’s not.

Friends, money is a tool to be used to reach your goals. It’s not just for spending. It’s for making life better, for happiness and it’s for security.

Is there something you habitually spend money on that you are willing to cut for an important savings goal? I would love to hear about it.