se7en

The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en Don’t Often Shop…

May 6th, 2009 · 19 Comments

One of the first questions people ask me when they discover that we have se7en kids is “How do you afford it?” Well I am not feeding se7en teenagers yet and by the time I am my little old blog should have made some millions for me!!! Right here right now though I have had to learn several things to save a penny here and there and it can be summed up in one sentence:

Don’t Go Near The Shops…

I seem to have grown up in a culture where shopping is a way of life and when you ask people what they did on the weekend then the answer could equally apply to: “Where did you shop and what did you buy?” How many weekends of my life have been wasted trailing form store to store.

Here is a simple Home Truth: If you are planning to be frugal then don’t go near the shops… Even with a list you end up buying things you don’t really need… I weaned myself from shopping over the years… and now that I have a trail of se7en kids shopping has to be really assessed and planned… Not to say we never shop we do! But when we do we try and make it fun, usually it is someone spending birthday money or anticipating a birthday. Often we don’t buy anything, you really can go to the shops without your kids expecting something… the reward is in the outing getting to look at new things and poke around in stores.

Here you go se7en stores to avoid:

  1. Toy Stores:

    When we had just a couple of kids I would go to a huge factory toy store twice a year and stock up on supplies for our “gift drawer” – potential gifts for unsuspecting parties and so on. Turns out that we don’t have that many unsuspecting parties. Turns out the gifts never quite fitted and I always had to buy something to add to it at the last minute. This kind of mish-mash of gifts can end up costing more than one good quality gift. You know when you spend $1. on ten things you can spend $10. on one thing – I know which gift I would rather get! I do still have a gift drawer – I keep bits of stationary and notebooks and generic gifty things like that in it…

    Especially now that my kids are older we know our friends and my kids would rather give a present they can make-up for them themselves… We tend to give gifts that give kids something to do or something consumable … NO NICK NACKS they take up space and everyone feels bad about getting rid of something that has lost its appeal but came from a special friend…

    I keep a running list of upcoming birthdays and as soon as I have a gift for them I tick them off and forget about it. Often and I mean often we have things around our house that we haven’t used at all that we use as gifts. For example: Postcards we never sent, unused cards lying in a draw, a couple of pages from different writing pads, make some writing paper to make it personal … buy a packet of envelopes and some stamps pop that in a box and you are good to go. A writing kit for a special friend.

  2. The Craft Store:

    We have a huge craft factory shop nearby, full of craft materials as far the eye can see. I mean redefine craft supplies… Needless to say I used to go their twice a year and stock up… But I haven’t been in two years and I appear to have broken the habit. I made a deal with myself that as long as I still had craft materials in our home I wouldn’t buy any anymore. Well I haven’t needed to buy any since. It is amazing how long a box of crayons last when you know you won’t be buying more. Otherwise amazingly enough you can make your own sidewalk chalks, finger paints, play do… all this at a fraction of the market price – Trust me food coloring is your friend!!!

  3. The Corner Cafe:

    This is the local spot where dash to buy bread, newspaper and milk… we got ourselves a bread machine, our kids learnt to read and we didn’t want the newspaper lying around – we read the news online and with better planning we can by milk for the month at the monthly big shop. That little corner cafe is a money gobbler of note… just a few sweeties at the till, a chocolate or a cool drink and before you know it you are easily spending just a few dollars a day but add that up to a month or worse a year and the mind blows!

  4. The Fruit and Veg Store:

    Surely this one should be a safe bet, but no: inevitably I end up buying more than we can eat because it looks nice! Or grabbing something new to try when we are going to be out all weekend visiting friends and so it doesn’t get eaten. This really kills me to waste food. So we order our vegis and they come in a box once a week and we just eat our way through it… I know we are eating the right amount of fruit and veg because we have to finish everything in the box by the next week to make space for the new goodies.

  5. The Florist:

    Or wherever you buy your flowers from. Flowers make an excellent “I am thinking of you” gift but they are ridiculously priced… Get your kids to make some bead and wire flowers. If you have a local picking spot, we have Chart Farm in Wynberg, where you can pick roses for a much more reasonable price and it’s a fun outing!!!

  6. The Book Store:

    Books have become astronomical so much so that I no longer need to keep out of a bookstore because it’s all out of reach!!! WE do read heaps from the library and that will have to do! I do need to say break that magazine habit. I figured that by buying a magazine a couple of times a month I could actually put the money to better use and reward myself with an actual book that I was wanting to read. There is no point in depriving yourself of every treat because you will just go a bit mad!

  7. The Super Super Store:

    We have a store quite nearby where you can buy just about anything. Everything is packaged to buy bulk and save. We go here once a year, not before christmas or birthdays! You really have to keep your wits about you here because they are full of special deals and before you know it your shopping cart is packed with all sorts of special things you never even knew you needed. Trust me on this I once bought a huge bag of ping pong balls – ummm for what… they had pretty colors and were otherwise pretty useless, actually I stuffed them in the bathroom closet and played a trick on a very nosey relative – who no longer visits – surprise!!! Anyway the point of this store is that you can get some good bargains, for example: washing powder – I buy about a years worth at a time. But you need to go first thing in the morning with your eyes wide open – when everyone is fresh – it is amazing how much more stuff you need when you are tired and hungry. With a list and a plan you can save a lot – without a list you are sunk and may as well sell your house before you go.

So when and how do we shop: The Big One – The Supermarket:

This is really a once a month shop and for a while I shopped on-line and had it delivered BUT they always left a couple of things off the list and I always had to go to the store anyway, which defeated the purpose. So now we plan a bit better and do a big once a month shop. Having a meal plan and an associated shopping list really helps: we know how many packets of pasta we need, how many boxes of Oats and so on. I can also leave large sections out of the supermarket visit – no bread aisle, no cleaning products and no stationary and so on. This list is pretty much unchanging and we can just walk through the store and get what we need and leave! If we desperately need something in between shopping days the father person pops in after work, he is better at not buying “little rewards” than I am… He has bigger ideas!!! and so usually is able to say “another time” and move on.

That’s it – se7en stores I can think of more and most likely so can you! But it is a start along the road to frugal living!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything. This week there is a frugal theme, so go and help yourself to a long list of frugal tips.

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Tags: Organizing Se7en

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marcijo // May 6, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I love this and I seem to be gradually moving to this method of shopping/not-shopping as well. If you don’t go to the store you don’t buy anything. One thing your mentioned is Milk. I do a weekly shopping trip & I find that milk I have to buy at least once a week and we are only a family of 4. How much milk does your family go through and do you have more than one fridge to store a months worth of milk?

  • 2 se7en // May 6, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Hi M, nice to hear from you again! Milk: we buy boxed milk here, it it long life milk and lives in a cupboard until it’s open and then we pop that one box into the fridge. We buy a pack of six boxes for the week (1 box = 1 litre)… We only really use it in coffee and cereal once or twice a week (cereal for everyone requires more than a litre!), and baking of course. Nobody ever drinks a glass of milk we all drink heaps of water! No juice either I would rather my kids ate fruit than drank a derivative of fruit. So just the one fridge…and I have blogged about it before believe it or not! Enjoy the rest of your week!

  • 3 Sue // May 7, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Hi, I loved reading this post! Absolutely fascinating and I am going to take your advice and stay away from my corner little Spar. I always end up buying one bar of chocolate, one samoosa, etc. which adds up over the weeks. Just one question, what do you have for breakfast each day? You say that you only have cereal once or twice a week. Even porridge takes milk so I am very curious!

  • 4 se7en // May 7, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Hi S, That corner shop is a financial killer, R5 a day is R150. a month, don’t figure out for the year!!! And what do we have for breakfast: oats twice a week, cereal twice a week, toast once or twice a week, pancakes once a week, scrambled eggs on toast on Saturday. The days we have porridge we usually just sprinkle sugar on top!

  • 5 Sue // May 8, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Thanks for your reply. I am rethinking my meals at home and my financial planning – thanks for the inspiration! S

  • 6 Christine // May 8, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I am so terribly grateful we aren’t shoppers! Actually, my hubby is, but my kids and I dread it.

    We go grocery shopping once a week, and then any other shopping I try to limit to once a month. Anything I can do online, I will (saves time and gas).

    It’s funny, as important as it is for me to save money, I find it more important to save time, and that would be my #1 reason not to shop.

  • 7 se7en // May 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Hi S… Happy to help! Planning ahead has really helped us trim down our food bill, just knowing what we eat on which day means we don’t buy extra in case or end up with too many meals or nothing in the last week of the month!!! Good luck! And have a great weekend!

  • 8 se7en // May 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Hi C, I am so with you on the saving time thing!!! By the time I have se7en kids strapped in their seats, to the store, through the store, out the store, back in those seats… and home again the afternoon is over and I am too finished to make supper… Needless to say the father person is our shopper too! Shopping online here is not as smooth and as swish as it is in your part of the world and by the time you have paid for Amazon shipping and hoped your parcel survives our postage system there is pretty much too much luck involved… thank-goodness!!! Because I love internet shopping and can really click away filling those shopping baskets… Everything looks lovely through my computer screen!!!

  • 9 KatieRae // May 8, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    As always, your info is so great and helpful, but I am still giggling about the pingpong balls.

  • 10 se7en // May 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Hi K, I wish I could have seen her face but alas I wasn’t sharing the bathroom!!! It certainly slowed down her poking around in every cupboard in the house… Some people are just unbelievable!!! Have a lovely weekend!

  • 11 Debbie // May 24, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I know this is an oldish post but I was just thinking that Pick ‘n Pay online shopping must be the answer!! I like going to P’nP but I must say that when I had my second baby (by caesarean) and my husband being disabled could not go to the shops alone, we did an online grocery shop or 2 and it was quite a lot of fun!!

  • 12 se7en // May 25, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Hi D, We did on-line shopping for a while but it became really frustrating when we tried to do our monthly shop and they never had enough “volume” for us… So they would just change out products. No I do not want other wipes – I want the wipes I want and so on! We would end up having to go to the store anyway! Needless to say we do our own shop at the biggest PicknPay we can find in order to get the products we want in the volume we want!

  • 13 Clair // May 26, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Hi, I am loving your blog, it has really helped give me some tips for my little family here in Plumstead. I was wondering which craft store you are talking about & where it is? I need to know :)

  • 14 se7en // May 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Hi C, So glad you are enjoying our blog. The craft store we used to frequent was Merrypak in Pinelands (they have a website where you can get directions). Don’t ever go their without a budget or a plan… those little bits and bobs of gorgeous bargains add up alarmingly fast!

  • 15 Taryn // Jun 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Again – picking up on posts late – just wanted to say that I must’ve coincided my last minute shopping trip 2 Sats ago with your monthly one :) As usual, I’d forgotten a couple things for Katie’s birthday party that afternoon and “dashed” in to PnP forgetting Sat morning shopping chaos! So, while I was fighting for parking spaces, I saw you guys making your way to the car. I wanted to say Hi, but figured what with the limited time and crazy parking it would be better to leave it to another day. You guys looked super organised and your DH remarkably relaxed as far as men and shops and kids go! Good on you! :)

    Taryn’s last blog post..excessively grateful?

  • 16 se7en // Jun 8, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Good Grief!!! Hi T – Again!!! I did say the father person is our shopper… he is a surgical striker – couldn’t care about the crowds or chaos… has his list memorized, his kids busy (everyone gets a very important job) and his wife trailing the rear… begging for coffee all the way – a double latte is my reward for surviving the monthly shop.

  • 17 Olivia // Jul 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Ug, I have so much to learn! Thanks for all the great tips.

    We do a weekly shop. 4x2l milks a week! We use about half a litre every day just for breakfast. How much do cows cost these days?

    And bread every 2nd day from across the road’s 7/11. I’ve never thought of investing in a breadmaker.

    I am going to try the homemade wipes thing now, tho. I’ll let you know the results. Of course, you’ve probabaly already tried this.

  • 18 se7en // Jul 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Hi O, I have a feeling the maintenance for one cow may be quite pricey, you probably need to get a herd! we don’t make wet wipes – somethings I just buy! Have a great weekend!

  • 19 Saturday Spot: Se7en Do Christmas Shopping and Feasting Around Cape Town… | se7en // Dec 14, 2009 at 12:55 am

    [...] post was meant to be our Christmas shopping post, but then you must know that I am not a natural shopper… I just can’t love shopping! I discovered this week that we are far better at restauranteering [...]

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