Squeezing Pennies 'til They Squeak

I haven't checked in for a while, I thought it was time.

I started with a new noggin doc a couple of months ago. I'm playing loosey goosey with the term "doc." I doubt there's a PHD anywhere in Willy's educational background, but for our purposes here, he's the new noggin doc. 

As some of you know, I've been to therapy before. Bossholio, The Cubicle Asylum and Ma's special brand of guano loco were the perfect trifecta of maddening. I was doing okay until the proverbial shit hit the fan a couple of years ago. 

I ain't been right ya'll. 

Lack of insurance or income limited my options, so I sought treatment at the local, government subsidized mental health provider. 

Gawdalmighty. That place defines the word clusterfuck. I'll give you the lowdown on that in a future post. 

Anywho...

For the past few months, The Amazon has been doing all of the grocery shopping. After looking at prices and taking my physical (and mental) limitations into consideration, Walmart seemed like the logical option. While our "local" store is about an hour away, TA works directly across the road. She could leave work in the morning, pick up what we need and we'd save on gas. 

Since TA isn't in a pleasant mood after spending 8 hours in a call center and did NOT feel like dealing with, well, anything after work, I'd go on the Walmart website and create a list the night before. This was great for me. Doing a month's worth of shopping at once is a challenge, but the Walmart list gave me an exact total, so I could make the most of those food stamp dollars. 

Our Walmart has grocery pick up, but you can't pay with food stamps, which sucks. TA still had to go in and find things. In the beginning, this worked out great. But then something changed at Wallyworld. The website would list things as available, but at least half the list wouldn't be on the shelves. Now, I've worked in retail as a department manager, cashier and stock person. I have a basic understanding of how stuff comes in through the back door. I'm sure the items were there, sitting in the back, but TA wasn't going to ask for them. 

Slacker Walmart effed up my whole system. 

Also, there was never a cashier working. Have you ever tried to self scan and bag a month's worth of groceries? The little old man who "supervised" the self-checkout damned near got his ass beat by suggesting TA bring a friend to help her when she grocery shopped. 

Something had to change. TA would come home looking like she'd been to battle, huffing, puffing and growling. She was disrupting my happy place. 

So here's what I've been pondering. My options are limited to what is close by, partially due to the price of gas (in the truck) and my inability to drive any farther than the next town over without being laid up for a couple of days. The closest grocery store is Ingles, 25-30 minutes from Frog Pond Holler, depending on how many tractors, wagon trains and herds of loose livestock you have to deal with. There's a Family Dollar directly across the road from there and we have a Dollar General in sight of the house. I can walk there if I have to. 

I've been diving deep in to coupon policies, sales and shopping secrets for those three stores. I have $192 a month, that's $41 a week to feed two people. Ingles is expensive, but they have great meats. I know from past experience that they start slapping those "special today" stickers on stuff Monday morning. I think, if I keep coupons on hand for packaged meat, like hot dogs, sandwich meat, etc., and match them with the reduced food, I can do it. 

This also means I'll have to go to the grocery store every week. I'm not excited about it. Willy says I have "avoidance personality disorder, bordering on agoraphobia," in addition to PTSD, GAD and whatever the hell other label for my crazy he can come up with. I get the heebeejeebies when I leave the house. If I have to interact with someone, I stutter and my tongue gets all wrapped around my teeth. 

It ain't purdy.

I also have checkout anxiety. I'm okay in the store, doing my thing, because I'm hyper focused on figuring out the cost per ounce with a coupon and finding what I need. When I get to the checkout, what if it doesn't ring up right? What if someone makes a comment about my EBT card when I'm in line. What if, for some unknown reason, it says I don't have any food stamps? I mean, I obsessively check the balance before I leave the house, so that can't happen, but you can't apply logic to my brain on anxiety. 

The last time I did the grocery shopping at Walmart, the cashier didn't hit the EBT button and I had to stand at the service desk while my whole order was entered again. I broke out in a sweat, I couldn't form a complete sentence. So embarrassing. 

There is a special kind of anxiety being a fat girl with a month's worth of food piled high in the cart and paying with food stamps. 

I've done the coupon thing before, some of you might remember my Pooh Bear binder, stuffed with deals. This time, I'm doing things a little differently. I'm not stockpiling coupons on the off chance that I'll catch a deal. The only coupons I'll clip (print) ahead of time are the packaged meats. Everything else will be those items that I know are on sale and are things we'll use. I won't be able to get coupons from the paper, because the Big City paper is no longer delivered to Frog Pond Holler. 

I mean at all. No paper boxes, no subscriptions, nothing. 

Printer ink can get expensive, so it'll be important to only print the coupons I know I'll use. I'm not sure how this will work out, we'll see. I may send out some emails to brands I know Ingles carries and has on sale often, but I'm not sure yet. 

That's where my brain is this week. There have been some secret mutterings around the internet of a way to get discounted items at Dollar General. I've not personally tried it yet, but if It works, I'll let you know. I"ll have to get my nerve up first.

So anyhooters, that's all for now. Maybe we'll talk again soon. Ya'll try to stay cool, winter will be here before we know it.

Until next time...

Later Taters!