03 April 2011

No Junk Mail

For years we lived with a 'no junk mail' sticker on the letterbox. And then we moved house. I can still see the sheer joy on Hannah's little 7-year-old face as she came racing in, shouting with glee that "we have junk mail Mum!"  Those few catalogues made her day. She loved them and she still has a deep love of junk mail.

Every Wednesday night she waits by the loungeroom window, watching for the junk mail and local paper to be delivered. Then she's out the door in a flash, getting her beloved catalogues out of the letterbox and carefully carrying them inside.

There is a certain ritual to reading the junk mail. The kitchen bench has to be cleared off and the catalogues are neatly stacked. She goes through each one, putting aside any that have something she thinks we may need or be interested in. Once she's read them she comes and sits next to me and carefully explains about the bargains she's found.

Over the years she has become quite the bargain shopper. Mind you she's had lots of practice, we've been doing this Cheapskates thing since she was a tiny baby. I don't think we've paid RRP for anything other than food in her lifetime.

But enough is enough. The supermarket catalogues don't have real food on special. There are plenty of biscuits and chips and soft drinks, and lots of expensive, sugary cereals. Each week there will usually be one or two of the more expensive shampoos on sale.  There may be one or two meat items, and a couple of fruits and perhaps some veggies, but not much else that we buy.

You see the problem is we don't buy very many processed foods.  We don't buy pre-prepared foods. We skip the junk food and soft drink aisles completely. We don't buy expensive toiletries (at least not from the supermarkets) and we don't buy packaged cleaning products.

Instead I look for the raw ingredients: flour, sugar, oil, eggs, milk, cheese, herbs and spices, rolled oats, fresh meat and produce for our meals.  I only pick up three things in the cleaning aisle: borax, laundry soap and washing soda.  I ignore the laundry detergents and fabric softeners. Our toiletries are many and varied and come from Avon, the local chemist, discount department stores, factory outlets, warehouse sales, just about anywhere other than the supermarket.

These brochures are filled with specials - for things that are mostly  wants, not needs. It's no wonder Australians spend so much on groceries when so many non-grocery items are marketed to us as groceries. After all if they're available at the supermarket then they must be groceries right?

I watched a mother (I knew she was a mother because the two boys with her called her Mum) go through the checkout in front of me last night. Her bill came to $212.37 and she didn't even blink. But I'll lay odds she'll be back before next weekend because the trolley was full of big packets of chips, 6 packets of biscuits, 2 bottles of cordial, I don't know how many bottles of soft drink and 2 boxes of cereal. There were only a couple of packages of meat, 2 bottles of milk and some veggies, no fruit at all. The rest of the trolley was washing powder and bottles of cleaning products.

I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and help her throw back the rubbish. She was wasting her money and not doing her family any good while doing it. I wondered if she had heard of Cheapskates or the $300 a month grocery challenge. I wondered if she even thought about how much she was spending or ever thought about how she could halve that bill and feed her family good food.

You'll beat the supermarkets at their own game if you make your meal plan and shopping list and stick to it. You can use the junk mail to see if anything on your list is on sale, if it is make a note to buy it from that supermarket. Ignore the rest, if it's not on your list you are not going to buy it.

Go on, I dare you.

Try ignoring the junk mail this week and see how you feel. Note the difference in your shopping bill. See how easy it is to stick to your meal plan and shopping list when you ignore the junk mail.

It's really easy to do and the results are amazing.  Come back and let me know how you go, you can leave your comments below. I'll be waiting to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. better still look at catalogues online no more paper ones ,the cutting down trees for our catalogues and papers this needs to stop as well no good being a cheapskate which I am proudly one when we not looking after our precious environment we should be promoting palm free products unless there sustainable


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