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Costco experiment

October 15th, 2023 at 01:46 pm

I have long resisted Costco membership as a single person, but recently decided to give it a try because I big entertaining event and they have some of the best large-group options for bakery items, cakes, vegetable trays, etc. The cost is $60/year up front, so I decided to track my use to see if the savings differences are worth it for a single person. For reference, I will also count any money saved that goes to family members or friends who might come along, because extra money for others is also worth it to me. For reference, I will compare to the estimated cost of getting the same/similar items at my favorite local grocery store where I usually shop, and I will try to note any waste that occurs from getting larger items.


I won’t be listing all the items where the cost was the same as a grocery store, just more or less expensive. For example, 8 lbs of Barilla spaghetti for 9.99- this was a savings compared to the same brand but not compared to my usual store brand, which it was equivalent. I also probably won’t count things I would not have considered buying at the usual price, if that comes up.


Did a big shopping trip for my event to start out:


3 bottles of coffee creamer for 7.99- these are currently 3.50 each on sale, so 2.51 saved


4 lbs of butter for 12.49. These are 3.79/lb for store brand, for a savings of 2.67


30 frozen spinach frittatas for 12.99 vs 6 for 6.49, savings of 19.46


Frozen spring rolls for 10.69 vs 7.99 for 12 count, savings of 13.28 for the quantity


1 quart half and half for 1.99 vs 2.69 store brand, savings of 70 cents


4 packages of ravioli for 22.98 vs 8.49 each, savings of 10.98


Large vegetable tray for 11.99 vs 18.99, savings of 7.00


4 lbs of shredded cheese for 14.99 vs 17.16 store brand, savings of 2.17


Breakfast pastries for 5.99 vs 14.58 store brand, savings of 8.59


Cake for 16.99 vs 22.99, savings of 6.00


2 loaves fresh bread for 5.99 vs 7.38 for store brand, savings of 1.39


2 jars of olives for 11.99 vs 13.38, savings of 1.39


Total saved: 76.14

So far pretty good- these are not things I would buy normally, but I probably would have bought a similar list for entertaining for this many people at the regular store. Definitely the best savings seem to be on prepared foods, which are not what I usually eat. The frozen vegetable prices on what I normally buy didn’t seem much better than store brand sales and I don't have enough freezer space for giant packs. That said, I think this will be a good place to go for holiday shopping too.

Summer savings

June 10th, 2023 at 06:24 pm

Appreciating things that are cheap or free in summer lately!


Exercise- Hiking, walking, swimming at state parks, gardening, yard work- if it wasn’t just $10/month already at Planet Fitness, I would cancel my gym subscription for the summer and still have tons of free options that are better than being cooped up in a windowless building while it’s nice out.


Entertainment- It’s easy to meet friends for a hike or a picnic at the park with their kids to hang out instead of always meeting for a restaurant meal. A lot of communities also have free outdoor concerts or events in the summer. Drivable day or weekend trips with a lot of outdoor activities in new places make me feel like I’m getting away without paying a ton of money for flights and fees to pricey indoor tourist attractions


Produce- not free unless it’s from the garden, but definitely cheaper and higher quality in-season, and I live in a very agricultural region with a lot of farmers markets/roadside stands.


Utilities- I use fans and save air conditioning for the super hot days, so electricity bills are much lower in summer compared with months I use the heating. When I wasn’t home much during the day and lived in a hotter city, I also used a window air conditioning unit to cool just my bedroom overnight, which used MUCH less electricity but still let me sleep comfortably


Household stuff- it’s yard sale season and more people are moving or doing spring cleaning, so it’s a good time to buy or sell household things like lamps, kitchen gear, furniture, etc. Many libraries also have summer book sales where you can buy cheap books by the bag and stock up for the year.


Cleaning- it’s a great time of year to be able to wash and line dry bigger blankets/comforters/bedding. Spending a couple bucks in quarters at the car wash to really empty out and vacuum the car while it’s nice out also makes it feel so upgraded for almost no money!


I’m sure I’m missing things.

Repair win!

March 31st, 2023 at 01:22 pm

I am obviously interested in saving money since I have a blog on this site, but a lot of my decisions these days are also driven by hating waste. So many of the things in our society now seem so unnecessarily wasteful and disposable.


Recently the cord on my vacuum cleaner got partially cut (right into the wires while I was using it- sparks everywhere!) This vacuum was a gift about 5 years ago, and when I googled replacement cords, they recommended replacing it if the cost of repair would be more than half the cost of a new vacuum. The vacuum costs about $160 new, and when I called two repair places, they wanted over $100 with parts and labor. I decided to call one more place that is small and family owned but further away, and they guessed maybe $70-80. Even though it would have been faster and easier to go 5 miles down the street to pick up a new one, I just could not bring myself to get rid of a perfectly functional machine because the electrical cord was damaged!


When I got there and they saw it, the owner told me that I didn’t really need to replace the cord, they could just cut about a foot off and attach a new plug at the end, which would mean they didn’t have to disassemble it and the labor cost would be very low, just a few minutes of work! I ended up paying $14 and it works just fine!


I am grateful there are still places out there that will repair appliances!

Been a while!

January 12th, 2023 at 04:07 am

It has been a while since I posted, although I've still been reading the blogs. Work has been busy, life has been busy, time flies.



Financial updates: I finally took the step of working with a financial advisor at Vanguard to start investing beyond my 401K at work. If you have been participating in the stock market at all in the last couple years, you know that….has not been going great. But I am just continuing to dollar cost average and trying not to look at short term performance of long term investments.


Will probably post more later as I think more about my 2023 goals

Pantry challenge

February 11th, 2021 at 11:13 pm

I am not doing a tradtional eat-from-the-pantry challenge, but I would like to focus on using up things I already have to rotate stores and avoid waste. Today’s grocery shopping included less overall food but was not super cheap because I took the opportunity to stock up on some longer-term items instead, like sesame oil (on sale!) and some spices that will last a long time. I will try to post occasional updates on what I’m making/eating. I did forget cornstarch and they were out of the coffee creamer I was looking for, so I will probably do a small stop for those things at some point before the next big grocery trip. (Notes- pescatarian/mostly vegetarian, and I do intentionally pay more for pasture raised eggs and oat-based coffee creamer)


Today’s shop:

6 pack of plain bagels- 2.00

2 dozen Happy Eggs- 9.38

Coffee creamer- 3.50

8 oz light cream- 1.39

Sunflower oil – 3.79

6 pack ramen noodles- 2.89

Sesame oil – 3.00

Bay leaves (dried)- 3.79

Garlic chipotle seasoning mix – 2.79

Garlic salt- 1.59

2 star fruits on super clearance- 0.46!

2 small yellow onions- 0.70

Ginger root- 1.29

3 lb bag mandarin oranges- 4.99

1.85 lbs tomatoes- 4.86

1.85 lbs mushrooms- 7.38

Total: 56.00 after round up donation


Tonight I am making this:  but with just mushrooms, leaving out the shrimp. I also added some carrots I had in the fridge. Already had rice, butter, dill, lemon juice, garlic, and stock cubes. I cut the recommended amount of butter in half.  The recipe will make leftovers for lunch.

I did not buy things I would usually pick up - frozen vegetables, tea, pasta. This should motivate me to dig a little deeper in the freezer/cabinets to use what I find