Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Charities fight the tide of do-gooder fatigue

This story showed up on http://www.csmonitor.com

This was a nice article on what I like to call Martyr Backlash: People who sacrifice to help others and then after seeing no betterment or reciprocation stop their efforts entirely. It is very common even outside the areas of volunteering, people do it all the time. We give money to a certain homeless person, for example, maybe even help that person get into treatment or a program. A month or two and that person is back on the street. It will be a long time before we try to help some other person.

What I would love to see, at this point in my life, concerning the homeless, the poor, food bank clients, and sheltered women, is how much time do they donate? How much do these basically unemployed people volunteer to serve meals or do labor?

Hey CSM, do you have any statistics on that?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Blast from the Past...."Life with Ernie"

I was looking through some old newspapers and came across this gem that I wrote in 2002

Life with Ernie....

My son, like most small children, has a lot of clothing with various action figures, TV cartoons, and toy logos emblazoned on them. Most of them came in sets of a shirt and pants, sometimes even with a jacket or hat. When he was smaller and more malleable it was fun to dress him up in these outfits. He could be Sesame Street or Bob the Builder from head toe, hat to boots.

This last 6 months or so something changed in that he doesn't like all of the pieces of the sets. For example, he will only wear one pair of boots right now (Bob the Builder) and his favorite outfit, clean or not, is a Tazmanian Devil tee-shirt with the Buzz Lightyear sweat pants. Add to that scene with a 101 Dalmatian hat and the Monster's Inc vest. OUCH!

As I got him dressed the other day, I had to wonder if there was some way to take advantage of his clothing preferences. Maybe somewhere there is a sponsorship available like you see on Nascars or athletes. After all, I bet anything he averages more miles a day than any race car and can be a lot faster than most athletes, plus he's cute. Any grandmother type who sees him cannot resist a pinch or two and maybe even a kiss if she is really fast on the pucker.

So, here is my plan.... I'll get some endorsements from companies who market to grannies like Hallmark, Red Heart Yarn Company, and the folks that make those Peptobismo flavored candies and sell them advertising space on Ernie, my own little "Product Endorsement Boy."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Take Control of Your Grocery Spending: On-line!

Taking control of your grocery spending, your diet and maybe even your waste line: Sign-up for on-line grocery shopping and delivery!

I visited Safeway.com and signed up for grocery delivery. Considering how frugal I am, it may seem a little strange that I am willing to pay an extra $7.95 to get groceries delivered. But, ask yourself how many times you have gone to the store to "pick up a few things" and ended up spending twice as much (or more) than you intended? Even worse, how much of that extra cost was unhealthy junk food bought on the spur of the moment?

Another common problem is that I forget to take my carefully prepared shopping list and try to remember what was on it while I am shopping. I end up buying stuff I do not need and forget the stuff I really need. Then, I have to go to the store again!

The solution??? Order exactly what you need without the temptation of seeing all the extra stuff at all. When I order online I can get eggs without walking through the chips & cookies aisle! I can get milk without seeing the baking aisle!

To best take advantage of this great service, sit down and make a list of meals you would like to eat for the next week or so. Then make a list of what you need to buy to make the meals. You can check the pantry and the freezer while you are actually on-line shopping....no more redundant purchases. In every category you will have the option to sort the foods by "A to Z" or by "Price-Lowest first" that alone is a great money saving tool. You can see the price of each product by weight. One cheese may be $10.99 per pound and a similar store brand of cheese may be $5.99 per pound. Once you have made your whole order, you will see that total and be able to add or delete items to make the order fit your exact budget, period! No more nasty surprises at the check stand.

You can use on-line shopping to get control of your food intake too. By actually searching for the items you want to buy, you will become more aware of exactly what you are buying. You can choose lower fat, or lower calorie foods with ease and plan for portioning. For example, we all know we need to eat 3-4 servings of veggies and fruits per day. Basically that means 1 pound of fruits and veggies per person per day. If you are shopping for a week of meals, then you can check the shopping order and make sure there is at least 7 pounds of produce ordered. If you are a single person, you can portion meat more easily by making sure the total weight of the meats on your weekly order is no more than 8 ounces per day--3.5 pounds per week.

I am pretty happy with my on-line shopping so far but there are a few things that I would like to see added:

Currently Safeway.com is not accepting EBT cards(Public Assistance Food Cards), so as usual, the people who might benefit from the service can't use it. EBT card holders are typically using the card to buy much more expensive and much less healthy products from the closest convienence store instead of being able to get good food delivered.

Safeway.com is not accepting manufacturers coupons either so, if you are a clipper then, on-line shopping might not be for you. Personally, I rarely use coupons and if I do, then I take them to the store and buy ONLY those items.

Once the service gets tweeked, I think on-line shopping may become THE way to shop.