Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Frugal Files: 5 Ways to Your Stockpile

Welcome to The Frugal Files!!

Many people ask me why I’m an Extreme Couponer. Well, I don’t really consider myself extreme, but I coupon because I want to save my family money on food and the things we use at home. If you found a way to save money in your pockets wouldn't you keep doing it? Exactly!! One of the ways to make sure I save money is to stock those items, so my family doesn't have pay more in the long run. How, you ask? It’s easy. Have a stockpile. I know that’s pretty easy to say, but is it easy to do? Of course it is!! Here’s how:
  • Investigate: Sit down with your family and write down the things that you use and eat most and how much. Brands don’t matter because with couponing, you’ll find stockpiling what’s on sale is best. Once you have your numbers, be on the cycle look out for your items. Based on your family size, ask yourself how much you want to have on hand. A good rule of thumb is to set aside about six months’ worth of food and 12-24 months’ worth of household and personal items.
  •  Build: Start by watching the sales and gathering your corresponding coupons for the items on your list. Choose 1-2 items weekly to stock. Sales come around in cycles, usually every 8-12 weeks, so organize your coupon binders and be ready to jump on the sale when it comes. This is the longest part of the process and can take about 3-9 months to get it where you feel it’s a comfortable stockpile. The idea is that you have enough to last you through the season or until the next sales cycle.
  • Organize: Arrange your items neatly as you get them, preferably on shelves so you can see them clearly. If you have extra cabinets or shelves, great, if not, you may have to get some shelves and put them up in your basement or storage area. For those with large families wanting to create a large stockpile, consider investing in a deep freezer. You will need it (or two). Separate your sections for food, personal items, toiletries, household items, medicines and pet items. Put like items together and move those things you bought first, to the front so they get used first.
  • Manage: Develop a system to keep track of what you have, whether you keep a checklist or use a dry erase board or chalkboard. The key is teaching your family to update the number when they take items out of the pantry or deep freezer. You’ll want to know everything you have at all times, which includes the quantity and their expiration dates. When your items get close to expiring and you know you’re not going to use them, consider donating to family, friends or a local pantry. You don’t want to lose your savings by letting things go to waste.
  • Replenish: Even when you have a nice stockpile going and you’re able to “shop” in your own store, don’t let it die. When those sales come back around and are “stockpile prices”, jump in an grab a couple of those deals, to keep your stockpile up and running. Keep a list of stockpiling prices in your coupon binder. This way when you come across the right price, you can stock up then, saving hundreds of dollars in the long run.

What ideas do you have for stockpiling? Let’s chat!!

Frugalicious Diva
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Friday, February 8, 2013

Fearless Fridays: Worry Less, Accept More, Part 2

Last week, I talked about my experience of being delayed at Tampa International Airport and how my patience got me through the situation. As I wrote last week, my mantra in life going forward is to worry less, accept more. That outlook on life goes hand in hand with so many things we deal with on a daily basis. One of the biggest challenges many of us face come from others in our lives. 

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in life is that people will only disappoint you if you let them. If we accept people at face value, then there are no surprises. A person will always show you who they are. It is up to you to see their true selves. Many of us make excuses for others when they wrong us. But at the end of the day, we always have a choice. We can choose whether to deal with them or not. A big part of worrying less and accepting more comes from how we feel about ourselves. It always comes back to YOU. If you know your worth and are confident, you won’t worry about what others are doing. You will accept that everyone has their own path to walk and that things will fall into place, as they are meant to.

One of the most important lessons my dad ever taught me was the importance of confidence. He always told me that people will not take you seriously and will think that they can take advantage of you if they feel you are not confident in who you are. In his opinion, lack of confidence shows weakness and there are people out there who will use that to their benefit.  See? It’s like that saying, “If you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love someone else?” Or be loved back, for that matter. You don’t even know what love is if you don’t have it for yourself.

Having confidence means showing the world that you are proud to be you. It’s as if you are celebrating who you are. It’s a party wherever you go because you are happy to be you. When you know your worth and value to the world, you will settle for nothing.  You certainly won’t stand for mistreatment. You will not let people into your life who will bring you down.  When you’re confident, you make better decisions and stand by them. You’re not afraid to fail because you are confident to know that while this may not have worked out, it doesn’t mean giving up entirely.

Confidence is not an easy thing for some. We all have moments of low confidence. It happens. We’re all human. But my dad also told me that in moments of low confidence, you have to “fake it ‘til you make it”. Because how you carry yourself is how people see you. And that is what you will attract back into your life. Moments of low confidence do not mean you are not confident. It just means you’re having a moment. What matters is what you do next. You can pick yourself up and try again or you can give up. Again, it’s all up to you.

The little things like how you stand, how you walk and how you speak say a lot about who you are. Confident people stand up straight and are not afraid to look at someone in the eyes. They walk with their head up high and smile on their faces. They speak in a tone which commands attention and respect. When you speak low, almost to a whisper and can’t look someone in the eyes when speaking to them, that’s telling the other person that you don’t believe in what you’re expressing. That other person is not going to be affected by anything you’ve said.

Improve your body language and you will improve your relationships and life. And even when you are not feeling as confident as usual, still play the part. Stand straight, head high and keep it moving. I always call it my runway walk. Even when I am feeling lousy, once I start doing my runway walk, it makes me feel better and it reminds me of my greatness.

Always remember that there is only one you in the world. There is no one else like you. Think of how powerful that is. You are you. And you were made this way for a reason. No one is going to love you as much as you love yourself. No one can validate you as much as you validate yourself. So stop worrying about what others think or say. Accept that they feel that way but that, that is not who you are. You are beautiful, smart, talented, caring and you are just YOU. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fearless Fridays: Worry Less, Accept More, Part 1

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Lao Tzu

I am writing this as I sit in Tampa International Airport, trying to catch a flight back home to New York. This is Day #2. Yes, you read right. I was here yesterday, which was my original return flight date. I ended up spending 10 hours at the airport. My flight was canceled due to mechanical problems and the flights after that were delayed hours due to weather in the Northeast. I went from being on a 10:15am flight to a 5:30pm flight, which got delayed to 8pm. After that, I decided to stay the night and try again tomorrow. So here I am.

Going through this experience really tested my patience. And it made me see that I am a patient person. I always thought I was impatient but now I see that really it was just me having moments of impatience.  Overall I am a patient person. I think that my patience comes from the positive mindset I always set out to have. It’s something I work on daily. Sometimes it is not easy but as I keep trying on a daily basis, it becomes easier because it becomes a habit. That’s what growth in life is all about.  

One of my recent life goals has been to worry less and accept more. That is my mantra, which I repeat to myself when I am in situations such as this one at the airport. I think that goes hand in hand with patience. When you worry less and accept more, you are building your patience. That’s growth in a nutshell. Just as we strive to build relationships with people, we have to build one with ourselves. One of the ways to build that relationship with yourself is to make better choices when handling tough situations.   

When we worry about something, it affects our mood and our mindset. And I kept telling myself as I watched people get angry and yell at the gate agents, “Why get angry? It will not change the fact that the flight is delayed.” It takes so much energy to be angry, frustrated, and worrisome. I made the choice to not get angry over something beyond my control. Instead, I was patient. I didn’t worry. I had to wait it out and see what happens. It’s all any of us can do, when you think of it. As my dad used to always say, “It is what it is.” My father was a big believer in accepting things and people as they are and not dwelling on the disappointments and setbacks. You learn the lesson and then keep moving. Moving forward…

Sometimes all it takes is taking a moment, being still and putting things in perspective. Once you do that, it is so much easier to accept the situation and not freak out. For me, it helps to breathe and do some sort of meditation. Some people laugh at me when I say that but real talk, it works. Our minds can become so cluttered with everything going on around us. Sometimes it pays to be still and just clear your mind so you can see things clearer.

Now when I say “meditation”, I don’t mean that I got on the floor right there in the middle of the airport, sat cross-legged and started humming. I just sat in a corner and focused on my breathing. I took deep breaths and relaxed myself. Then I thought about my situation and the options. I then said to myself, “It is what it is. I can wait or I can go and try again tomorrow.” I ended up waiting all day but then coming back the next day. 

My flight today was scheduled to depart at 10:15am but is now delayed until 10:40am. I’m calm, smiling and in good spirits. If I can’t get on a flight today, it’s okay. Everything happens for a reason. Who knew I could experience growth from sitting in an airport? I sure didn’t. I am pretty proud of myself.

Special note: My flight ended up departing at 10:45am and I am home! After an exhausting two days, I am happy to be home. But I don’t regret what happened because I passed another test on my patience with flying colors. Remember, you always have a choice, down to how you view a situation. You can look at it with a positive perspective or you can look at it negatively. The choice is yours and the right one will change your life for the better.

The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen. ~ Ralph Marston