March 27, 2009

Money Diary

Financial Observation 1: Google Saves Money in the Kitchen

I throw away far too much food—which often spoils because I forget I have it or I do not know what to prepare with it. Had buttermilk that I'd bought for some (now forgotten reason) that was still fresh; decided to use it up. Incorporated my new favorite cooking utensil, which is already saving me major $$$ by using perfectly good food before it spoils. That is: Google.

I do not enjoy cooking; I am not a great cook. I don't know which of those came first. But for the last year, my new successful kitchen trick is to input ingredients found in my cupboards in a Google search, and hoping a decent and doable recipe will appear. It nearly always works.

So I printed the very first recipe that appeared under "buttermilk" and "muffins." and voilĂ , soon had a batch of tasty orange-rind buttermilk blueberry muffins.

Financial Observation 2: Getting a 12" Sandwich for $5.00 is Not a Better Value than Getting a 6' Sandwich for $4.00

My mother and I went to a sandwich shop today to get lunch for her twin sister who is recovering from surgery. The plan was we would bring lunch and enjoy it with her. I ordered two subs, because there would be four of us and we would split them in two. The store associate said, "Do you want the foot-long? It's only $1 more and you get twice as much." "Sure," I said. That was smart—get twice as much sandwich for $5 as you would have for $4?

Wrong. We only ate half of the two foot-long sandwiches. The other six-inch tuna and six-inch turkey are in the refrigerator tonight and quite soggy by now. (They didn't taste so good in the first place.) I'm guessing we'll throw them out tomorrow.

Financial Observation 3: Look, Notice, Ask

Parched with thirst and 15 miles from home, I stopped at McDonald's for a medium Diet Coke. (I know, that is not an antidote to thirst, and is actually a dehydrative entity, but tell my body that on a warm March afternoon). The prices were like: Small: $0.99; Medium: $1.39; Large $1.69. So I dug around for $1.39 plus a little, knowing tax in Michigan would be less than the Chicago rate of 10.25%.

The store associate asked me for $1.06. I said, "Shouldn't I be paying you more? I ordered the medium, that is a buck thirty-nine."

"All sizes are the same price, ninety-nine cents," she said.

"Ooh," I said, "Then is it not too late for me to order a large?" And put my change back to recount $1.06.

"Of course not," she answered.

Think I'm crazy? You might be right. But I have this idea that teeny tiny financial observations; cognizance about coins, all this stuff adds up to a data input that helps your decision out-put when it comes to the big money things. Like mortgage planning and strategy, investment choices, etc. Think I'm right about this? Or totally cooked? I'd like to know what you think. I already know that a few friends of mine believe I am nuts to think this way—Shirley is one (she is a banker friend I have not seen since she relocated to Florida, but used to say that I still hung on to the first dollar I'd ever earned), and Bob, another (but I'll keep mute on Bob; he has his own highly odd fiscal idiosyncrasies).


  1. Other than Why did you go to Subway in the first place, what's so weird?

    (The trick to saving a footlong is to separate out the bread, meat and "other stuff" before fridging, and get it without sauce. Learned that during my sub $10k years.)

  2. I love the Google the Ingredients in your pantry tip!!!

  3. Well, see, Forrest? A little forethought like yours, and we would have had a decent value of this meal. But we'd ordered sauce on the turkey, and the tuna wasn't a great quality to start with. To switch the order (which my mother had detailed to me in advance) mid-make, with the crowd of people growing behind me and the associates kind of rushing me to get the order right, I ended up just to confused to re-do the ordered, and we wasted the extra 12" of food.

    As for what is "weird," well, for some people slicing and dicing down to the last few pennies and dimes and nickles is a bit too much trouble to be bothered with. I'm kind of on the fence about these issues. Some people will spend so much time / energy figuring out how to save a dollar here, a ten there, but miss the (forrest for the trees or tree for the forrest) by not spending enough time / energy on, say, 401(k) planning and forethought.

    By the way, this fast-food place was called "Blimpie," and being in a small town just 15 miles from my parents' home, my mother knew four of the 20 people in there.

    Becky, you are sooooo sweet. You probably know how to cook, given your four beautiful children appear to have been eating healthfully during their growing years. I MUST be better in touch with you, and get my writing / book strategies started.