See a Penny, Pick It Up...(And Use It to Buy Toothpaste Next Week)

Yesterday was my first official day of unemployment. Friday was my last day of work at my job. Of course, it was just like any other workday from the last year, given that I worked from home. The whole thing was very anticlimatic.

So instead of working FT, I'm now going to work on contract for my former employer on a project-by-project basis. I told my manager that I would be perfectly happy working 20 hours a week for him some weeks, and zero hours the next. I am in desperate need of a break. I have not taken more than two days off at a time since last Christmas. And because I work when Isabella is napping or in bed for the night, I'm hitting the keys seven days a week to stay on top of things.

My (former FT, now contract) job isn't my only job. I also work on contract for another company, and I'm trying desperately to find that extra hour or two in every day to outline and write articles for parenting websites and magazines. It's been my goal for years to make a living as a freelance writer, spending my working hours writing on topics about which I'm passionate. I don't have the FT job anymore, so I hope to find the time to make my goal a reality. Luckily, I have some great friends I've "met" through blogging who are doing exactly what I want to do, and who have been incredible sources of support as I start to get my feet wet. Thank you S and M (Oh, I am so easily amused these days).

But while our financial picture isn't as unstable as it would be if I didn't have these two writing contracts, it's far from what it was when we were a double (steady) income household. So, for the last three months or so, I've been scrimping and saving every last dime in preparation for right now. And in the process, I've discovered my inner bargain shopper.

Prior to Isabella's birth, I gave the ads in the Sunday paper about as much attention as the vegetable section of my supermarket. I've always clipped and used coupons for my weekly food shopping, but I was never one to shop around for the best deal on shampoo or milk or cat food. I thought my 82-year-old great uncle, the king of the bargain shoppers, quaint in his annual Sunday ritual of spreading out all the ads from grocery stores, drug stores, and the like, and planning his weekly shopping trips to buy canned peaches at one store for .62 cents, when they normally run $1.05, and five bottles of mouthwash for $2.00 at another because they were on sale and he had three coupons, for which he received double the value.

But now? I'm my uncle.

I've devised a very careful budget for our monthly spending. There is a certain amount we have for food each week, and with the high costs of Isabella's organics, it's essential we stick to it. And so, every Sunday, it's me and the ads, a pen, and a piece of paper. And while I once wondered who in the hell those people were who sought out deals at drugstores, I am now one of them.

It's not as pathetic as it sounds, and I can tell you that there's a certain thrill that comes with buying four boxes of your favorite cereal that normally runs $2.50 per box, for a total of $5.00 because a certain store was having a sale and offering a rebate, PLUS you had coupons.

I'm far from a pro at saving money, and I could learn a lot from Marie, who is the queen of the good deals. But I'm learning. And if I can keep us from having to fight the cats for the last nugget of food in their dishes, then all my penny-pinching is worth it.

Frankenboob Update: Thanks to everyone for their good wishes and suggestions. I'm pleased to report that as of today, Gros Piton seems to have received the message that her services are no longer needed. And while I'm glad the pain is gone, there is a part of me that's very sad because this part of my relationship with Isabella is officially over. But the brimming mug of fully caffeinated coffee I'm currently enjoying is helping me to drown my sorrows quite well.

10 Responses to “See a Penny, Pick It Up...(And Use It to Buy Toothpaste Next Week)”

  1. # Blogger My Wombinations

    please let me know off line how you get organized around that stuff! I feel like we waste hundreds of dollars every month because we are so desperately disorganized. It is pathetic. I am jealous.  

  2. # Blogger Marie

    Go Kristi! I'd hardly say I'm the queen. But I'm very frugal with certain things. Have I ever loaned you my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette? It's a compilation of newsletters from years ago, written a frugal mother of 6 kids. I pull it out when I need inspiration. I should do a post on this topic!

    Dude, don't overlook the dollar store. I know, I know. I went in there the other day to buy a bucket. At 9a.m. the aisles were clean & there were no lines at the checkout! I cruised the toiletries area & saw that they sell my bar soap. And they had rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, which I needed too. One of them was even 2/$1!  

  3. # Blogger Beagle

    Funny you should mention this today.

    I was in a drug store yesterday to make C. check his BP at their free machine and I passed a woman with a complicated looking coupon, crib notes, ad clippings system. And I had the passing Hmmmm moment . . . of "I wonder if it's worth the effort?"

    I'll bet it does add up.

    You'll have to post your weekly savings total or something!  

  4. # Blogger kenju

    I always (or almost always) use coupons, but I hardly ever "shop" the newspaper ads. My aunt spent as much money as she saved, by driving all over town to shop the specials. She never realized (or admitted) how much money she was losing by all that driving. Maybe I can figure out how to do it while minimizing the gasoline costs.  

  5. # Blogger InDueTime

    Try I swear by it. :-)

    It's only $1 the first month..whatcha got to lose?

    If you do try it, use me as a refferal..

    I LOVE a good deal!  

  6. # Anonymous Melissa Garrett

    HAHAHAHAHA ~~ okay, so I guess I am easily amused, too ;-)

    I *love* looking through the ads and clipping coupons. But there's always the internal struggle to buy the inexpensive *cheap* stuff (shampoos, cleaners, paper goods) or to spend more on the eco-friendly products without all the chemicals. That's what gets me in trouble. There are certain foodstuffs I won't skimp on quality - milk and veggies (and you know how expensive organic milk is - I've got a boy who drinks 5+ cups a day, not to mention the other two who consume milk in a lesser quantity!). Before I was privy to organics and eco-friendly stuff, I was the budget queen. Now my conscience gets in the way. I just want to tell it to shut up already!!  

  7. # Blogger Christine

    I almost never use coupons. I have a couple for the cat's brand of food and then will use something if I come across it. I am jealous of your organizational skills here!

    Also, congrats on setting your own hours! (around baby, but still)  

  8. # Anonymous sher

    I'm so glad you will have time (fingers crossed) to work on your writing. I truly enjoy reading everything you've ever posted. I may have to start budgeting in the future, so I found this post particulalry fun to read! :)  

  9. # Anonymous Shannon

    I echo Sher's sentiments!  

  10. # Blogger Damselfly

    If your cats are eating organic cat food nuggets, though .... oh, never mind. :)  

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