April 27, 2010

Pizza, My Frugal Food

Usually on the weekends I make pizza.  Pizza is one of those foods that you can make as a way to use up some leftovers.  I prefer pizza with everything on it.  However the rest of my family prefers a few toppings. 

I stock up on shredded mozzarella cheese when it is on sale and I freeze it.  If I see Monterey Jack or Co-Jack cheese in the reduced display, I pick it up and shred it and freeze it.  I have never had any bad results with freezing shredded cheese.  Just let it thaw it and then you can use it on pizza, quiche or a pasta dish. 

As to toppings, I buy pepperoni on sale and freeze it if it is close to the expiration date.  Other meat toppings I use are:  ends of ham chopped up, pieces of salami, a few leftover strips of bacon, ground beef, ground breakfast sausage or for that matter sausage links, leftover grilled hamburgers, leftover chicken, leftover turkey, leftover pineapple and so on.  Any meat that is leftover from a meal that I can use on pizza, I freeze. 

One time I tried a new recipe using strips of chicken breast and it was awful.  I had all this leftover casserole and no one liked it.  I took the chicken out of the casserole and rinsed it off and the next evening I used it on pizza.  Nobody knew it was from the casserole from the night before.  I dolloped a little barbecue sauce on top of the chicken before I put it in the oven and everyone loved it.

I have never been able to make a good pizza sauce so I use spaghetti sauce.  I can usually get sauce for 4 large pizzas from 1 jar of spaghetti sauce.  Since I usually make 1 large pizza at a time I freeze the rest of the sauce in amounts for one pizza.

I make my own pizza crust which my family does love.  It is one of those - a pinch of this and that concoctions but I did measure the last time I made it so here are the ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast - quick rise
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve.  Let this mixture sit for a couple of minutes so that the yeast starts to foam a little.  I use my kitchen aid mixer and dough hook for mixing up the dough.  Put about 1 cup of flour in the bowl and add the yeast mixture.  I let the mixer take over and mix it with the dough hook adding enough flour to make a soft dough.  The key here is a soft dough.  You don't want your pizza dough to be stiff and hard.  Then empty the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times.  Then I take the dough and work it with my hands to form a circle and place this on a large greased pizza pan and work it to the edges to form a nice edge crust.

Sometimes if string cheese is on sale at a good price I will buy it, cut it in half lengthwise and then place the string cheese on the edge and over lap the dough to cover the cheese.  This makes a stuffed crust.

Top the pizza with the sauce, cheese and any other toppings.  Then, let the pizza dough rest or rise for about 15 minutes.  The finishing touch is to sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the pizza and bake it at 425 degrees for approximately 12 minutes. 

On Saturday I made a pizza and topped it with a mixture of mozzarella and cojack cheese.  I then cut up one leftover grilled hamburger and used 3 pieces of leftover bacon for the topping. 

I can usually get the spaghetti sauce on sale for 75 cents a jar.  One 8 oz. package of shredded mozzarella is on sale about every two months for 99 cents.  I buy my yeast and flour in bulk.  The rest of the toppings are leftovers or purchased on sale.  I can easily make a pizza for $3.00 and under depending on the toppings.

The best part is that my family prefers my homemade pizza to take out pizza.  I've made pizza so much that I can usually get it in the oven in about 20 minutes from start to finish.  

April 26, 2010

New Computer on the Way

The hard drive went bad on my computer and would cost around $225 to replace.  I decided to purchase a new laptop on sale for around $500.  It was kind of a hard decision as I could use my son's desktop - but frankly, that did not appeal to me at all.  This is one of those "okay if we didn't have money for food" scenarios I would definitely have not replaced it, but we are doing a little better each month.  I hate to say that as the great refrigerator god might decide to pull life support on our 20 year old fridge. 

It always seems that when something major goes out on a computer and you fix it, then something else crops up within a few months.  So thankfully Dell had a great sale, we got 6 months' zero interest and it was shipped yesterday.  By the end of the week I will have it up and running and be able to blog more often. 

April 21, 2010

Other People Spending My Money

When downsizing occurs in the family budget and when you start to live frugally, sooner or later you will be faced with some "social" problems as I am going to call it.

Our DS is in a church youth group.  At the weekly youth group meetings a meal is provided.  Our turn is this week and we have two other parents helping.

I received a call Monday night from one of the parents who said that she wanted to do this "easy" which meant ordering pizza.  For the number of kids that would mean around 12 pizzas at $10.00 each.  Each of us is to provide some cookies and chips also.  By the time all is said and done the pizza alone split three ways will come close to $40.00 each.

I told this mom that pizza sounded expensive as I am not working. I asked if we could do something else and she said that she wanted to do pizza and she had talked with the other mom and she was in agreement.  Both work and live in two income households.  She didn't understand my situation.

It became quite clear to me that neither of these moms understood what it is like to not have an extra $40.00 in the budget for pizza.   This is the type of dilemma that I have faced since our household income was reduced.

My solution was Sloppy Joes.  Supper for the youth group is served at 6:30.  Both of the moms get off work at 5:00 so this would have been quite doable.  Sloppy Joes could be put in the crockpot and simmered for the afternoon.  I was willing to make the Sloppy Joes. 
When I am backed against a wall and it is two against one, I give in.  I didn't want to make a big issue out of this, but one side of me was very upset.  The other side of me tried to put myself in their place.

For people that live in two income households and have not been affected by the downturn of the economy, they do not understand what it is like to lose your job and live on less.  They do not understand the daily decisions I make to live within my income guidelines and the need to refrain from spending money.  When this happens I refer to it as "other people spending my money" because in my mind that is what it is.  Other people putting me in the position of having to spend money I do not want to spend.

When you chose the frugal lifestyle you open yourself up to criticism.  What I chose to do with that criticism is up to me.  Yes, I have been called frugal and cheap - not in a good way - by others.  But then again I am the one at home full time not having to hassle with working a job away from home.  Laugh all you want but I am happy being home and it is worth the trade offs.

I will move some things around in our budget and the money will be there for the pizza and I will call the youth group leader and ask to be put with some stay at home moms the next time we need to provide a meal. 

What have I learned from this?  People either understand or they don't understand. When they don't understand and I am put into a corner, I have to let my feelings go, forgive these people, buy the pizza and move on.  It's not worth spending time fretting over it.

April 18, 2010

Computer Woes

My laptop is out of commission right now and hopefully the man who services our computers will be able to look at it this week. I have a bad feeling about it.  The good news is that everything was backed up.  I have been down this path before so I am always making sure that I have a current backup.

I am a "what if" person.  What if the hard drive has gone bad, what if it will cost a lot to fix it OR when is it better to get something repaired or replaced entirely.  My DH told me "why don't you just wait and see."  Good advice.

In the meantime I can use our desktop computer that my DS uses all the time. That is only if I can pry his hands away from the keyboard.  In fact I'm not sure who is more upset about my laptop being out of commission, me or him.  

Being without my laptop for a while only affirms the fact I would much rather go without cable television than my computer and access to the internet.  Now if I could only talk the rest of my family to drop cable television we would save a considerable some of money each month.

April 15, 2010

A Little Bit of This and That

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here in south central Iowa.  It has been in the upper 70's and low 80's, the sun is shining and the trees are budding and the grass is green.  My day lilies are coming up and so are the peonies.  Tonight we are expecting severe storms.  This means the possibility of tornadoes and strong winds, but for now I am enjoying the beautiful spring day.

Today I headed to Hy-Vee grocery store to pick up some ziplock storage bags.  They are on sale for only 99 cents a box and I had several coupons for 40 cents and 50 cents off.  I bought 6 boxes for a total of $3.14.  When I got to the checkout I received a coupon for $4.00 off my next shopping trip to Hy-Vee courtesy of Ziplock.  Nothing makes my day like getting a great deal especially when the deal is free. 

My DH's birthday is Monday the 19th and I have saved up $100 towards the purchase of a Kindle for him.  He has $140 saved for this purchase.  He has no idea that I have been taking my coupon savings for the past few weeks and saving it for him.  There is nothing that brings more happiness to me than to surprise a family member with a gift that they have wanted. 

This weekend I will be tuckpointing bricks around the outside foundation of our house.  I have done this before on the inside walls of the basement and used a mortar that was premixed and in a tube that you just squirted in between the bricks.  My former boss gave me half a bag of mortar mix (hey, again I love free).  I have to mix it with water to the right consistency and then with a trowel work the mortar inbetween the bricks.  There aren't a lot of bricks that need pointed, but to hire it out would still be costly.  An afternoon of my own sweat equity will take care of the job.

My DH will be working on a drippy faucet in our bathroom.  I would love to get a new faucet but our budget has been and will continue to be tight.  So, if we can put a little work into it and just have to replace a washer or two, that is good enough for me.  However, if new washers can't fix the problem, we will purchase a new faucet.

March was fraught with added expenses such as a new washing machine and some hired plumbing work as two examples.  The month of April is continuing the theme of added expenses with a truck repair bill and the possibility of replacing our refrigerator.  To help with these expenses I have cut back our grocery bill to just the necessities which means milk, eggs, butter and fresh produce.  We can easily live off what is in our freezer and pantry. 

One thing I have learned over the past few months is that when I see unforeseen expenses coming our way I can rely on a stocked pantry to get us by.  I will be doing this for the next few months as our emergency fund has really dwindled since I became unemployed.  Thankfully we have had money in savings to pay for these added expenses but we need to replenish the emergency fund.

Since starting this post, the clouds are now rolling in and my neighbor has started to mow his lawn.  He is probably hoping he can get it done before the rain comes.

April 10, 2010

Cleaning Supplies, etc.

First of all I want to go to the "etc." of this post.

I posted recently about Walmart laying off people in our area and that perhaps there could be a corrolation between lay off's and their new low price campaign.  I am not opposed to shopping Walmart.  In our area, however, it is the most expensive store to purchase groceries.

Last week I received in the mail from Walmart a $5.00 gift card.  Yes, from Walmart.  Yesterday I headed to Walmart as I needed thread for a sewing project.  In my purse I keep an envelope of coupons that I would like to use if I find a good deal.  After picking up the thread I headed over to the laundry supplies.  Two weeks ago there was a $3.00 off Snuggle coupon in the coupon flyers and I had two coupons.  I had priced Snuggle on a recent shopping trip at the two grocery stores in our town.  The price at both stores was $3.69 for the 32 load size.  Since the coupon wasn't expiring until early May, I had plenty of time for a sale.

At Walmart they had rolled back the price for the 60 load size of Snuggle from $5.12 to $3.97.  I picked up two bottles.  For 28 cents more I was able to get almost double the amount of Snuggle.  The best part was I got each bottle for only 97 cents.  I didn't pay a cent for two bottles of Snuggle and 1 spool of good quality thread as I had the free $5.00 gift card.  I even had 43 cents leftover for another day. 

I walked around the grocery section of Walmart looking at the items I purchase the most from the grocery store. I didn't notice too many other better deals, so our grocery stores are still the best shopping value for my grocery dollar. 

Now on to cleaning supplies.  About 18 months ago I came across some great deals on cleaning supplies.  I stocked up with a lot of BOGO items.  That was back when I was working full time.  Now as those supplies are being used up I am looking for homemade alternatives.  I am just about out of bathroom "scrubbing bubbles" spray.  Actually back when I was working, my DH cleaned our downstairs bathroom and he loved that bathroom cleaner so that is what I always purchased.  I will now be trying a version that I saw on the internet using equal amounts of vinegar and Dawn dish detergent. 

Next up will be window cleaner.  It is almost time to get the ladder out and clean the winter grime off the windows.  I have found a recipe that I will be trying that uses ammonia, rubbing alcohol and a drop of Dawn dish detergent.

I am almost out of Pine Sol which I had been using to clean my vinyl flooring.  I think the main reason I use Pine Sol is for the aroma.  My mother cleaned with Pine Sol for years and there is something about that scent that says "clean house" to me.  I will give up the aroma if I can find a cheaper, homemade version. 

One thing I do know about cleaners is that they get over used.  Many times we use too much cleaner for the job or we get impatient with spraying something on a surface and not waiting for the cleaner to work. 

As I use the homemade cleaners I will post what has worked and what hasn't worked.  I do expect to save a good deal of money as most of these homemade recipes call for very basic supplies.  One thing I do know is the rule of thumb of never mixing ammonia and bleach unless you want to destroy your lungs and take a trip to the hospital.

When I go grocery shopping the one thing that I hate to purchase is cleaners.  I would rather save the money or spend more money on produce. 

In the paper this morning they reported that we should expect a 15% price rise in meat.  The price of gas is going up so that road trip to NY to see my mom this summer is going to cost us more.   Gas prices also affect grocery prices.  Thank goodness we have a wonderful farmer's market that I can take advantage of this summer.

Some people would throw their hands up in the air when they see prices going up. I see it as a challenge.  I will continue to make my own laundry soap, try new recipes for homemade cleaners and look for other ways to save money in order to compensate for higher prices. 

The weather is beautiful and it will soon be possible for me to dry our clothes outside.  My DH is going to spend part of today working on our bikes.  I purchased a bike basket so I can ride my bike to the store and save on gas. 

To close this post here is some of what I am doing differently in my life since I quit working:  bake all our bread and bread items; make my own laundry soap; hang our clothes out to dry; walk or bike as much as possible; make my own cleaners; make as many of my clothes as possible; spend time on couponing and planning my grocery trips.  These are just some of the things that I am doing that I never used to do.  All of these changes have transcended into money savings.

No Ads on my Blog

I made the decision months ago that I would not be posting ads on my blog for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the intent of my blog is to post my lifestyle change.  Second, there are a ton of blogs out there that post ads and deals all the time.  What could I add that already hasn't been posted?  Third, it has never been my goal to make money from my blog.

I like to keep things simple.  My blog is just that - a simple diary of my life as it has transitioned from full time career woman to stay at home wife.  On occasion I may post about a good deal that I received but I won't be advertising that there is a great coupon for a certain product online and such.  I'll leave that up to the other blogs that have that as a goal.  I subscribe to several of those blogs and they are up to date on the current deals and such.  Trying to duplicate what other blogs are doing would be ridiculous.  After all, they are doing it better than I ever could.

So if you happen over here to this blog, you will get a simple version of my life and what I am doing.

April 08, 2010

Being at Peace with My Weight

In previous posts I have talked about the need to lose weight and how some clothes do not fit anymore.  Well, last week I had to sit myself down and have a reality check.  I am not overweight.  I actually do not need to lose weight. 

Some clothes in my closet do not fit.  The question is do I want to wear crop pants (or for that matter anything in my closet) that I purchased over 5 or 6 years ago?  I lost a lot of weight too quickly 3 years ago and I knew that I would end up gaining it back as it was just a fact.  You lose weight very, very fast and it will not stay off forever.

Instead I have made a lifestyle change by including exercise in my daily life.  I have changed my routine somewhat in that when I work out on my Bowflex Tread Climber I go strong for 10 minutes, then I go slow for 5 minutes, then faster for 10 minutes, then slower for 5 minutes and finally I really go as fast I possibly can for 10 minutes and end with a 5 minute cool down.  I used to workout on the treadclimber for 45 minutes straight.

My new workout is better for me in so many ways.  I can handle 10 minute increments with a 5 minute slower pace so much better than 45 minutes of a straight workout.  Also, it has tricked my metabolism.  I have been doing this for 4 weeks now and I can honestly say that it has made a big difference in toning. 

Tweaking my workout has helped tremendously.  I am also at peace with my weight and how I look.  Just because some of my "old" clothes do not fit me, does not mean that I am overweight.  I am 51 years old and I am accepting of my "middle age" body.  For 51 I look great and that is good enough for me. 

Spending my day obsessing and beating myself up because I was unable to get into a pair of capris that I wore back in 2004, does not do me any service nor does it lift me up. 

I know people that would love to be my size.  There are people that truly struggle with weight and have a difficult time losing.

Three years ago I weighed 133 lbs. after I lost 12 lbs. very, very quickly.  Now I weigh 142 lbs.  BTW - I am 5' 5".  I am healthier now by far than I was 3 years ago.  I exercise and I eat healthier and I feel better too.  Whole grains are a big part of my diet now as is a nice big (and I mean big) salad for lunch everyday.  Then at supper I eat whatever I am fixing for everyone else, in moderation, and then that is it.  Yes, I have cookies - 1 or 2 - and not 4 or 5.  And for snacks, I love clementines, apples and I snack on a whole grain granola bar or whole grain cereal. 

Women have a number in their mind of what they feel is a good weight for them.  For me that number has been 135 lbs.   Now I don't have a number.  I just want to fit in clothes and look good and be healthy.  I am not out to look like I did when I was first married - thirty years and three children later - well it isn't going to happen.

In getting older I must accept changes in my body.  As we age we can gain weight and it is okay.  Dressing to look good is what I am more interested in.  I am a good person and I refuse to let my unhealthy body image define who I am and hold be back from what I want to become. 

I purchased some new crop pants from JC Penney this week.  They have had quite a sale so I ordered 2 pairs on line.  I ordered size 12.  I have been a size 10 for 15 years.  The pants arrived yesterday and I tried them on.  One pair is white.  Okay, white crop pants can be a mistake, but I have always wanted a pair of white pants. When I looked in the mirror I was very pleased with my appearance.  The fit was perfect - they weren't too tight and they weren't baggy. 

This is a big deal for many women to move up a size.  Do you know what I learned?  Moving up a size is a good thing.  Having clothes that fit without being tight is a self esteem booster.  Hanging on to clothes that don't fit, opening the closet door and seeing them there is just plain draining on a person's soul. 

Time to move on.

Today I will take all the clothing items out of my closet that do not fit me anymore.   I refuse to hang on to the past and I'm moving on.  And I am going to order two more pairs of size 12 crop pants.

April 06, 2010

What's for Dinner Tonight?

Tonight we are having homemade waffles.  I may add a little cornmeal to the batter.  We will also have sausage and fruit salad.  Any leftover waffles go in the freezer for a quick breakfast later on this week.

I spent some time today cleaning my DS's room.  I couldn't stand it anymore and it was time to take matters into my own hands and dig in.  Actually it wasn't too bad.  After I picked up papers on the floor and the dirty clothes, it was easy. 

Today was a continuation of laundry day, I washed all the bedding and towels.  After I stripped my DS's bed that is when I decided to tackle his room.   About an hour later with one garbage bag of trash in hand and some Febreze sprayed around the room, it looked and smelled great. 

Right now our county is under a tornado watch until 10:00 tonight.  It is warm and windy.  So we could be eating our supper in the basement if the tornado sirens should go off.  Spring in Iowa also means tornado season.

April 05, 2010

Monday Monday, So Good to Me

I love Mondays. Since leaving the workplace, I have a different perspective on Mondays. After being with the family all weekend and having a great time together, it is good to face the laundry and to "take back the house" so to speak.

Monday is laundry day in our household. I would rather tackle it all in one day than do a little bit each day. It gives me the sense of getting something accomplished vs. cooking which is never ending. One thing that I do that seems to save me time and make the sorting job easier is that I sort the clothes into 4 large plastic garbage cans. Yep – the kind you put out at the curb on trash day. I hit on this idea years ago and I love it. First of all the clothes aren’t laying all over the basement floor getting stepped on and it is so much easier to sort and just pull a garbage can over to the washer and load it. I have one for darks, whites, light colors and one for good clothes such as dress shirts and docker type pants.

On Saturday I cooked up another batch of liquid laundry soap and I also made a double batch of the powdered version. IMO the powdered version may do a better cleaning job and with the weather being warmer I want to make sure that the soap does get the smell out of those underarm odors on t-shirts. I did read that if you put some of the homemade liquid laundry soap in a bottle and dilute it a little you can spray this on the underarms of t-shirts and it will take the smell out. I am going to try this but I am going to also add a little Blue Dawn Dish detergent and water to this and use it as an alternative to Shout.

In the winter time our clothes do not get very dirty but when summer comes and the church softball league revs up, I will then have some pretty dirty, smelly laundry. One thing I have noticed is that my husband's running clothes do get really clean and the smells are gone even using the homemade liquid laundry soap. Perhaps it is due to my use of liquid fabric softener (a very small amount) on any clothes that have to air dry.

Speaking of fabric softener, I bought some store bought fabric softener sheets about a year ago for $1.00 a box - 80 sheets. I purchased 8 boxes. I have been using them all year and haven't had much of a problem until last week. I was in a hurry and didn't cut the sheets in half and used a full sheet on a dryer load of my husband's dress shirts. Well, when he ironed one of those shirts for work (yes, he irons his own clothes - what a guy), there were some stains on the shirts. They looked like grease stains and my first thought was that my new washing machine had a problem. I did the nose test and each stain smelled strongly of fabric softener. I put some blue dawn dish detergent on each of those stains and laundered and they came out.

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering about those fabric softener sheets. I have several boxes left and I want to use them so I will only be using those on the dark clothes and I will make sure I only use half a sheet. I may just take the boxes that are left and donate them to the Food Pantry. Pretty soon I will be using only liquid fabric softener as I will be hanging clothes outside to dry.

The downside to drying clothes outside is that it will take a little longer to get all the laundry done but nothing beats the smell of clothes that have been dried outside. I am kind of tied to fabric softener as I do like the fragrance and the feel of my clothes after using softener. With not using a commercial laundry detergent that is heavily fragranced I find that my clothes just need a little bit of fabric softener per load to make them soft and smell great. I use about ½ tablespoon per load of either Downey or Snuggle that I have purchased on sale and with a coupon. The Fels Naptha soap that I use in my homemade laundry soap recipe does seem to soften the clothes somewhat so I only need a minimal amount of fabric softener.

Now on to spring cleaning. I have been working hard to diligently use up my store bought cleaning supplies so that I can now use the homemade alternatives. I have been collecting recipes from books and the internet and am anxious to try a few. One such recipe is for a bathroom cleaner that uses equal amounts of Blue Dawn Dish detergent and vinegar that you put in a bottle and spray on the surfaces instead of store bought bathroom cleaner.

As to Dawn Dish detergent, it works so good on so many things that I noticed that you can now purchase Tide with Dawn Dish detergent in it.

My other task today is planning. I have yet to plan out the month of April and I need to get that done. Left unplanned I will not be able to get focused and get projects done.

We had company over the weekend so my house is clean and I can focus on planning and laundry today.

I love Monday, especially when the sun is shining and it is warm outside. I love spring and looking out my window and watching robins, cardinals and sparrows feeding from the bird feeder. I never seemed to notice this much when I was rushing out the door at 7:30 a.m. to get to work.

Life is good.

April 04, 2010

Spring is here!!!

I have gone a little A.W.O.L. on blogging for the past week.  It has been in the 80's in our area of the country and the warm weather puts me in the mood to get housework done. 

For the past couple of months I have been in a little bit of a "funk."  I love being home, however, being home alone during the day and looking out the window at a few feet of snow or rain or just general dreary, gray days can take a toll on a person.

I had every intention after Christmas to dig in deep and go through closets, deep clean the house and get some rooms painted.  Instead it seemed the only thing I could accomplish was basic cleaning, laundry, cooking and baking.  I didn't get a lot of the extra projects that I had wanted to get done.

Enter sunshine.  We have had several days of beautiful sunshine and warm weather.  It has been glorious.  My DH and I walked around the yard and noted all the work that needs to be done - the picket fence needs painted and several pickets need replacing, the brick foundation of the house has places that need tuckpointed, the house needs to be painted and more.  We joke that it would be easier to say what doesn't need to be done to the house than what does need to be done. 

There were other things we noticed such as the trees are budding along with the forsythia bushes, as are the raspberry and blackberry bushes. 

The birds were feeding out of the birdfeeder and getting drinks from the bird bath.  We have survived the winter and so has the wildlife.

For the first time since we bought this house 13 years ago, I really feel like it is my house.  I have spent years working and coming home at night to cooking dinner and cleaning up and then either going back to the office or working from home.

I can honestly say that this house has never felt like my home.  I have put off doing things such as a lot of decorating as I just didn't have the time.  Now I have the time and it is a joy to clean, renovate, decorate and manage. 

One thing I have learned about this path I have been on is that I don't want to screw anything up for us financially that would require me to go back to the work place.  It's not for me.  That part of my life is over.

Last week in the middle of doing laundry I made a cup of coffee and sat out on the back porch and watched the dog run around the yard.  Just sitting there in the warm sun and looking at our yard made me feel like the luckiest and richest woman in the world.

April 01, 2010

Our Local Economy and Walmart

If we go by what economists tell us and for that matter politicians, the present recession began in December of 2007. 

We saw massive lay-offs and business closures in 2008 and 2009 in our community.  In the past few weeks there have been three jobs advertised in the newspaper.  Just three jobs and those are for truckers.  So if you can't drive a truck, you're out of luck. 

When I am around a group of people, the topic usually goes to the state of the economy and the lack of jobs.  I pay attention to these discussions since I lost my job last summer in part due to the economy. It doesn't look like we will be coming out of this recession anytime soon, and I believe it will take a few years to recover and even then, our life will never be the same.  We will be living by different rules - save up and then buy; have a nice sum in savings for a rainy day.  Basically we have been slapped on the wrist for living beyond our means and we need to go back to good old fashioned money values.  Of course, these have always been good rules to live by.

I noticed that Walmart has been doing a lot of advertising about lowering the prices on their groceries beginning April 1st.  This intrigued me.  Why now?  I had heard last fall that Walmart was doing pretty well as people were doing a lot of their shopping there in order to stretch their dollar.  In our community Walmart is the most expensive place to buy your groceries.  People go there anyway as they have not priced the other grocery stores or have been lulled into the feeling that Walmart is always cheaper. 

I have noticed some changes in our local Walmart over the past month.  Namely, the main aisles are mostly free of any displays and I don't seem to see as many employees as I am walking through the store during the day.

About the only thing I buy at Walmart is toiletries (if they are on sale) and pet food.  But last week I stopped by the fabric department to buy some fabric to make some skirts and tops for the summer.  The lady that waited on me has worked in that department for a long time.  I made a comment about the t.v. ad I had seen advertising that Walmart is lowering its prices on groceries.  She leaned into me and quietly said "they have laid off quite a few people and families are hurting."  She went on to tell me that many department heads are now doubling up and covering two departments because of these layoffs.

One could surmise that the way Walmart is going to save the consumer money on groceries is to cut expenses - namely laying off employees.  So it made sense my not seeing as many displays and  employees in the store when I shop during the day.  Time will tell but it is usually standard that the employees are the first expense to be cut.  Wages take up a big chunk of any business' bottom line. 

A couple of years ago I read the book "Nickel and Dimed" about living on minimum wage in America.  The book was written before 2007 and it opened my eyes to the working poor.  The author went under cover and worked several minimum wage jobs around the country and tried to live alone on what she earned.  There was one chapter on working at Walmart. 

I will never blog that we should all boycott Walmart, as I will still shop there for the toiletries, pet food and now fabric.  It's a catch 22 - if people stop shopping Walmart in our area, there will be more lay offs. If you continue to shop Walmart, then you are in a small way supporting Walmart's way of doing business.  It's hard to know what to do. 

The economy is becoming old news to many people.  They are tired of hearing about it. I have found this true of families that have not been affected by unemployment.  When your needs are being met and life is going on as usual, it is easy to forget about those that aren't so well off. 

Every night the national news always has a story about the economy.  We should not become numb to this news or complacent.  Times are still very hard in our area, which means those of us that have incomes need to step up more and make donations to our local food pantries and charities to help others out.  We should never forget that those of us that have the means, are obligated to help those that are without.