Budgets, Labels, and Continued Confusion?

Reading labels is a must when you are striving to save money and get the best deal. In the course of my budget-shopping excursions to the store, I have run into a few labeled words that gave me pause to think and wonder.

One of the most misleading to me stated, “Take two tablets with your favorite meal.” Fair enough, but do I have to avoid them when I eat something I don’t particularly like? Do I have to cook all my favorite meals as long as I need the tablets? We are told to always read the directions before using a product. I wish this one had left it with, take with food.

Antibacterial products are suspect, too. The new spray, soap or cleaner arrives on the market and you use it with confidence. A few months later, the label reads, Improved, kills all bacteria normally found in the home. I want a bacterial body count next time so I can really compare the effectiveness.

There are sometimes interesting messages at the meat counter. I am not adverse to buying meat marked, Special Today, Value Pack, or Sale Priced. I do tend to wonder about meat marked Reduced for quick sale. We should, at least, get some kind of time frame. How many days have to elapse before it really becomes inedible? And what kind of problem are we talking about here? And will the new, improved antibacterial spray be of any help?

Shampoo bottles promise a multitude of things, all the way from shining hair to thicker, fuller, more manageable hair. All you have to do is shampoo it in, rinse and for best results, use the conditioner from the same company. They never mention this on the front of the bottle. There have been mornings when I sneak in a conditioning rinse from some company’s competitor and wonder if the shampoo police will call and interrupt my shower.

Store at room temperature has always presented a problem to me. Does everyone have an even temperature in their homes? What exactly constitutes room temperature? The seasons could have a bearing on this as well, whether you live in the temperate or tropical zone.

Toothpaste labeling changes on almost a daily basis. The tube you brought this morning is probably obsolete by evening.

I think I will solve my dilemma by not dwelling on this any further. I think I will fix my favorite meal from the reduced for quick sale meat. While my feast is cooking, I will shampoo and not use a conditioning rinse. After dinner, I will vegetate with a good book, avoiding unnecessary exercise in order to keep myself at room temperature. When I brush my teeth later, I will avoid reading the label on the tube and if the toothpaste isn’t enough, I can always give myself a generous spritz of new, improved antibacterial spray.

Coupons, Marriage, Children, and Life!

After thirty years as a wife and mother, I now realize that bargains, coupons, sales and deals were a latent part of my personality from birth. When it came to spending money, I preferred having more cash on hand for the recreational side of life than tied up in the kitchen.

My sixth sense for deals didn’t appear, however, until I had been married for about a week. Up until then, shopping was merely the deposit of various food needs in a cart with little thought of cost. My new husband and I were on our first joint grocery shopping venture about five days after the wedding. We were strolling blissfully along, both of us chummily guiding that one shopping cart. As we turned the corner from canned goods, we saw a group of fellow shoppers crowded around some kind of display. Without a conscious decision on my part, I temporarily broke away from my newlywed bliss and joined the throng. After some pushing and shoving for a turn at the display, I triumphantly returned to my bemused spouse, two chickens in hand.

“Can you believe these birds were only 59 cents a pound?” I exclaimed. “Did you know what was on sale there?” my husband asked. “No, but I figured it must be something good if there were that many people interested,” I answered.

At that point, my novice husband realized that there had been a personality change in the relationship and it wasn’t his.

Over the years, more subtle changes occurred in our married life. Where once I would share the paper with my husband on a Sunday morning, I now ransacked it for coupons. Television after a hard day at work was ignored as I prepared elaborate lists of grocery needs and then tried to figure out how to pay less for it all. Quick trips to the store turned into scouting missions as I mentally kept track of who had the best price on items. We still shopped together but my husband had sole charge of the cart as I had to keep alert and on the watch for previously unannounced sales. Sneakers were a must and our conversations went from newlywed sweet nothings to “Quick! That’s the last one! Grab it!”

When the children came along, they could be a distraction from the business at hand every Saturday morning. My husband, somewhat regretfully I’m sure, opted to stay home with the children while I braved the bargain hunters set loose on the weekend.

Time mellows everything and working within a budget encourages creativity. We miss our solitary strolls through the market but enjoy the surprise meals and desserts my coupon and bargain hunting helps produce. Our only complaint is that happy repasts have added to our weight but I know, deep down in my heart, I am still a size seven hidden somewhere about my person. Besides, you need the extra muscle to get ahead of those people who think they can grab the last two for one item on sale this week.