Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Break Up

Our front step looks a little different today.

There's something missing…. something that has been a fixture for the entire seven years we've lived in this house.

Something that has made life easier.

It's silly how sad I am about giving back my milk box. Today, when I looked outside, I was crazy sad to see it was already gone. The girls had plans to leave Tim (he's been our milkman for seven-plus years) a plate of scotcharoos, along with one of their famous "you're the best milkman ever" notes.

So very sad.

So very silly of me.

It's just a milk box.

But really, it was much more than just a milk box.

Yes, twice a week Tim left milk (and the occasional surprise, like a bottle of orange juice or a box of Rice Krispie treats) in the milk box. We even exchanged Christmas cards.

But we used the milk box for so much more than just milk.

It's where people left things for us if we weren't home, and where we left things for people to pick up. I can't even tell you how many times I told people to "just leave it in the milk box."

I need to find a new place for people to leave catalogs and cd's, not to mention homemade Christmas goodies?

But, it is just a milk box. The bottom line is, that milk box was costing us a fortune. 

I never did the math before, but when I did, I knew we had to cancel the service. Obviously, you pay for the convenience of the milk delivery, and for years, it saved me time and money (who really goes to the grocery store to buy milk and leaves with only a jug of milk?) But the price of gas has gone up, which means the price of milk delivery must also go up. And my life has changed: I now work a flexible job from home, so I have time to stop at the store on a regular basis. And the way my kids drink milk, five gallons of milk a week isn't enough anyway. Soon, we'll have another driver in the family, and I plan on sending her on milk runs often.

So the milkman and I broke up.

It really felt like a break up -- he even called me to make sure I really wanted to discontinue the service. I think he got a little teary eyed even.

But, it boils down to price.

We just can't afford it.

Milk delivery is just one place we're cutting corners. Other ways we've discovered we can save include:

  • Coupons. I'm still learning about this, but I've dabbled in coupons off and on over the years. Again, working from home helps here. I just have more time to explore, research, print, and clip coupons. I've found some great websites with tips, but I am by no means a pro yet. Yet.
  • Personal shopper. Well, not really. That's just a fancy name for what has got to be the world's greatest aunt. Brad has an aunt who works nights, and drives home by Sam's Club. She's offered to do my shopping for me. She picks up milk at least twice a week, and whatever other groceries I need. It works for both of us: she gets her shopping "fix" without buying things she doesn't really need, and I don't have to go to the store everyday, and buy things I don't really need. I just paid my bill to her yesterday -- for $20 more than what I was paying for milk alone, she was able to buy not only milk, but also things like apples, lettuce, toilet paper, and more. Seems like a no-brainer now that I've looked at the numbers.
  • Unsubscribe. I recently spent about an hour cleaning out my inbox and unsubscribing from various things I had subscribed to once upon a time. I've discovered if I get an email about an awesome sale, I am tempted. Most of the time I just browse the website, load my cart with things I want, and then never actually order anything. But sometimes I do buy the things in my virtual cart. By stopping the emails, I've made it a little more difficult to be tempted to shop online. It takes an effort to spend money, and honestly, I am not really one to sit at the computer and search for things to buy. But if I get an email, I am instantly sucked in.
  • Cash. This is Dave Ramsey 101. If you use cash, you're more careful about what you buy. Cash feels more like money than a credit card, or even a debit card. It's true. I really do think twice about buying that coffee when I have to hand over cold, hard cash. And it feels so good to still have $20 in my purse at the end of the month!
Stay tuned to see how those money-saving tips work for us. We'll also be working on teaching our kids to do a better job of managing their money. Smart Money, Smart Kids is full of great ideas. I seriously recommend pre-ordering your copy. Click here to do that (I got the chance to read the whole thing already… great stuff).

Meantime, I'll be searching for a container of some sort to replace my milk box so when Christmas rolls around, we'll be ready for Christmas cookie drop-offs! 

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