The Festival of Frugality #14, which includes the Don't Mess With Taxes item on unusual -- and usually ill-advised -- tax deductions that people try to slip past IRS examiners, is now available. Thanks to Neo's Nest Egg for hosting this week.
As I perused this latest frugal fest, several entries caught my eye, but Money and Investing's resolution to clear out an overstocked pantry really hit home.
"Hi, my name is Kay and I'm a food hoarder."
No, I don't have an eating disorder (unless you count wanting to eat ice cream as the main course of every meal a disorder; I call it getting necessary calcium). It's just that over the years, when I find something we like, I tend to buy every single one of the products on the shelf, every shopping trip.
But I have a really, really good reason for this excessive stockpiling.
Every time we get attached to a product, it invariably disappears from our local store. Or, even worse, the manufacturer quits making it.
The first few times this happened, catalogs and then the Internet came to our rescue. We were able to find most of the things we wanted (or that we grew up with in Texas but couldn't find in Maryland or Florida) through these outlets.
But the shipping costs can really add up. Plus, now that states are getting serious about enforcing sales taxes on ordered items, that's an added cost that, years ago, we escaped. Tax alert: Collection of sales taxes on remotely sold items (i.e., Internet and catalog goods) is only going to increase as more states sign the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, a move to simplify tax collection efforts between jurisdictions, particularly in regard to e-commerce transactions. Read more about it here.
And ordering food long-distance actually contributes to overstocking. I mean, why not get three cases instead of three jars of jalapeno pickled okra when the delivery costs for the larger order prices out at a more economical shipping rate?
Sometimes, though, even the willingness to pay isn't enough.
When one favorite salsa disappeared from the online vendor's product list, I called the manufacturer. Apparently, we were the only two people in the world who were willing to pay for this company's black and green olive with garlic salsa. Yes, it sounds basic, but there was something about that particular blend we've yet to find in a similar product.
The extent of my hoarding was revealed when we moved back to Texas last summer. As we unloaded boxes, I discovered some foodstuffs that I had schlepped from Maryland to Florida, then from Florida to Texas. Most of them were dry goods -- powdered sauces, specialty pastas, obscure spices purchased to try out a new recipe (that unfortunately didn't taste as good as it sounded) many years ago.
But even these, while not technically spoiled, lose their flavor over time. And even if they don't, a decade (or more) is probably too long to hang onto any food product, regardless of how well it's vacuum sealed!
So I, too, am trying to let my pantry get a little bare before restocking. It's difficult. I love grocery shopping and picking up new and intriguing treats. But, as Money and Investing notes, wasted food is wasted money, and even I don't have enough coupons in my old, green, plastic file box to offset such needless, and avoidable, excess.
Picking up more than groceries: Did you happen to catch the premiere (and episode two) Monday night of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' new show? It had its moments and I'll probably give it a few more viewings.
But, as a compulsive food shopper, what really caught my attention was a throw-away line in the story about Christine's post-divorce attempts to date again. A coworker's recommendation: Hook up with someone at Whole Foods. It's much better, according to this character, than the
meat meet market at Ralphs on Pico.
I got a kick out of that (not to worry, honey; I'm not looking for love in the juice aisle) because, with our move to Austin, the market's home base, I've discovered the Whole Foods experience.
We had only been in town a couple of weeks when we headed to the flagship store downtown. It's like an amusement park, but with a much better food court. Entire families -- mom, dad, kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, you name it -- were there, with plans to spend the whole day.
There are Whole Foods stores in Florida, but none was close enough to justify a visit. In addition to the gasoline and time, I would have had to take along an ice chest to make sure that any refrigerated or frozen goods made it home in optimal condition.
But we do make a Whole Foods run once a month or so. The hubby really likes the tamales and I can get picholine olives for a special chicken dish.
And after the TV show comments, the next time we're there I'm going to keep a close eye on all those single shoppers to see if you can indeed get everything you want at Whole Foods!