a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Simple Grocery Shopping Tips to Save You Money, Time, Sanity & . . .


For years I was naive about these practices. Over time I have learned that you can save a lot of money just by knowing the carefully-calculated-ways you are led to purchase things you hadn't intended.

Did you know there are companies that specialize in all aspects of consumer habits, enticements and product placements?

Grocery stores' arrangements/placements are carefully orchestrated to sell the most products. Even the style of music they play and their overall ambiance is selected to appeal to the clientele they want to attract.

Statistics show that  60 percent of all items purchased in grocery stores are “impulse purchases.” The grocery stores prominently display these items on the end caps of the aisles, in display boxes  in the aisles themselves, and by the check-out counter. These displays are specifically set by the store to get you to buy something that is most likely NOT on your list.

Learn to be a less frequent and smarter shopper. Watch the ads. Grocery stores and product manufacturer's have fairly dependable sale cycles —if the basic item you need is not on sale this week, it most likely will be in the next week or two. Being aware of this allows you to buy staple-type items when they are on sale--- before you need them.

Stores usually offer a few "loss leaders" in each ad, especially around holidays. Loss leaders are deeply discounted items to get you in their doors, counting on you to buy more. Also, be aware that not all things listed in the weekly ad are actually on sale.

  • The less you shop the more you will save----on the money you spend as well as your time and gas.
  • Plan your meals to use/eat the produce you buy in the order of it’s “fraility” – leaf lettuce doesn’t last long, head lettuce lasts longer and cabbage even longer. Bananas ripen quickly, apples and oranges last.
  • When buying bagged apples, oranges, potatoes, etc. heft a few or maybe even weigh them. A 5 lb bag of fruit or vegetables has to contain a minimum of five pounds. The $2.99 3 pound bag of onions I bought yesterday weighed 3-1/2 pounds --- which amounts to an extra 50 cents worth! 
  • I read an interesting comment: lunch meat is a bunch of bologna. If you watch carefully, deli meat may be a healthier step above packaged long-shelf-life lunch meat.  The best deal - financially, health-wise, and taste wise is to cook a chicken, roast a turkey, bake a ham, and slice them and freeze them to make your own “lunch” meat.
  • Don't be afraid to house or generic brands  a try. The same manufacturers usually make both---same product with different packaging and price. You own it to your bank account to at least try less expensive house brands of the products you buy most frequently.
  • Plan a meatless meal day at least once a week. You will save money and eat healthier.
  • Something you hear over and over is true: Do not shop on an empty growling stomach.

AND . . .

Find a way to grocery shop WITHOUT the kids!!!

Mother Shopping with Son and Pet Dog While Pushing a Shopping Cart

Not only is the marketing industry into massive product-placing attempts to make you impulse shop,  they seriously research ways to encourage kids to want things. Not only do most major advertising agencies have children's divisions, some marketing firms are entirely devoted to kids ---- and I am not talking about being devoted to kid's needs I'm talking about creating their "I wants!"

Ad agencies admit that most ads aimed at kids have one simple goal: getting kids to nag their parents. While I have seen the following kid behaviors  in stores, the fact that the "how and why children nag their parents is an intensely studied subject of these ad agencies" was a real eye-opener.

Their studies have categorized the following stages of nagging:

  1. A pleading nag is when a kid repeats the same words over and over again, like "Please? Please?" or "Mom, Mom, Mom."
  2. A persistent nag is when a kid constantly asks for something using phrases like "I'm gonna ask just one more time."
  3. Forceful nags are really pushy and may include mild threats like "Well, then, I''' go and ask Dad."
  4. Demonstrative nags are the riskiest, sometimes leading kids to have an all-out tantrum in a public place---to hold their breath, cry and refuse to leave a store until they get what they want.
  5. Sugar-coated nags promise love in return for a purchase and may rely on sweet, adorable comments like "You're the best mom/dad in the world."
  6. Threatening nags are the nastiest, with kids vowing to hate their parents forever or to run away from home if what they want isn't immediately bought.
  7. Pity nags claim that a kid will be heartbroken or humiliated or teased by friends if a parent refuses to buy something.
James McNeal, the Texas A&M professor of marketing who identified these stages states "kids tend to stick to one or two of each that prove most effective. . . for their own parents." 

Marketing agencies play heavily on the guilt of increasingly busy parents' efforts to soothe this guilt by giving in to nags.

There is much more to learn about the greedy tricks of the trades, including Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson and McNeal's book Kids as Customers.

What goes on behind the scenes in victimizing consumers is unbelievable, unfathomable, and unforgivable. It is all about GREED.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Helpful Guidelines for Easing Little Kids Into Sports

     When I was a little kid team sports consisted of whoever you could round-up in your neighborhood at a moment's notice ----
     Which meant when we all had our chores and school work done and it was not yet time for dinner. In summer the games often continued after dinner.
     Our field was the street in front of our homes. Most homes had only one car and traffic was rarely a problem.
     Age wasn't usually a factor unless you were the kid sister who was five years younger than her brother. He never wanted to let me play but his friends would convince him often enough that when he wouldn't give in, I was content to sit and watch.
     That was then.

The little newsletter that accompanies our utility bill has a non-utility-related column each month. This month the column was on Caring for Kids. The sources were Child Centered Coaching by Dr. Stephen Bavolek, and Prevent Child Abuse Utah.

Sadly, at least in the suburbs of the United States, casual neighborhood pick-up games are long gone, a thing of the past----replaced by "organized" sports. When we were young, those neighborhood games didn't require coaching and the only child abuse was the occasional child-to-child type (like when my brother pushed me out of his way).

While the sources for this column were an eye-opener for me, the information is spot-on. Through our many years of watching our children and grandchildren participate in organized sports, we have cringed too many times. Many parents expect too much of their kids and can be pushy to down-right brutal in expressing their expectations. Some go so far as to bribe.  These same parents can also be demanding of the coaches and rude to the referees.

What are these parents teaching their kids?  and Why?

From the column authors:

Children's Needs When Learning a Sport:

  • Have fun
  • Get some exercise and be physically fit
  • Be with friends and meet new ones
  • Learn new skills
  • Learn how to accept losing as well as winning

Stages of Competition:

At age 4, children like to cooperate
At ages 5 and 6, children learn competition
At ages 7 and 8, children compare their abilities with others
At age 12, children start to associate losing with personal failure.

From Simply, Gail:

This world is a crazy place and kids are growing up too fast in all aspects of their lives---too often with their parents approval or at least their acceptance---and even more sadly, their encouragement. 

Isn't there automatically more than enough stress in life even, unfortunately, in young people's lives, without introducing it to not-much-older-than toddlers who look cute in their too-big uniforms and just want to run around playing "herd" ball and having fun with each other? 

Maybe, rather than Simply, Gail --- I am simple Gail, but if so,  I don't think that is a bad thing.