From skwigg's journal: I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but now I've finished the book and I'm getting even more giddy about saving money. To recap, I read The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time by Anna Newell Jones. She basically quit spending money on "wants" for an entire year, only spending on "needs," while making every effort to reduce those and supplement her income. She paid off twenty-some thousand in credit card debt and student loans in fifteen months. What grabbed me was her writing style. She's funny. I can relate to her "buy now" thought process, and shopping as a form of entertainment. I was eager to read about how she survived this whackball yearlong adventure even if I didn't make any changes to my own spending. It was inspiring though! Really inspiring! Even without any credit card debt, I wanted to start saving immediately. I want to pay off the mortgage. What strange thoughts! LOL Ok, so here's where we're at. After two excruciating hours in an AT&T store, I got them to consolidate our lines onto a cheaper plan, credit me $300, and double our data for free. Triumph! I was so excited my feet did not even touch the ground when I left. I floated to the car. Then I called our insurance agent. After a lot of back and forth, phone calls, and document-signing, he rewrote our three car insurance policies, cutting the premiums basically in half!!! Holy snot! I also played telephone hold-music roulette with Time Warner Cable and lowered the cable bill enough that I quit thinking about canceling cable, for now. Now that I firmly understand the difference between wants and needs (I never stopped to consider this before), boxes have quit arriving from Amazon five days a week. I'm sort of afraid UPS will forget where we live, but I've freed up so much money! And then I turned my attention to the grocery bill. Our grocery bill is (was) more than our mortgage, by quite a lot. I'd been buying name brand, organic, bright and shiny everything and not even looking at prices. No sales. No coupons. No hesitation. LOL When I started looking, I was stunned! Do you know that Hefty trash bags are $9 and the grocery store brand is $5? Why was I buying Bounty paper towels, Reynolds aluminum foil, and C&H sugar? Sugar is sugar. Foil is foil. I was paying twice as much for no reason. Geez, do I feel dumb. Apples, OMG. I realized I'd been spending $16 a week on apples because I was buying Honeycrisps and Fujis at $3 a pound and not weighing them or looking at the price. I have recently discovered the joy of apple sales. You save a bundle of money and you get to taste new apples. This week I have experienced Braeburn apples for the first time. They're delicious! And they're cheap right now. The real adventure has just begun though. Generic food. :-) I was already buying several products in the grocery store brand because I prefer the taste. Now I'm really branching out. This week I bough grocery store cereal, crackers, pasta, ketchup, raisins, salsa, cheese, yogurt, butter, sugar, frozen vegetables, tater tots, almond milk, and tortilla chips. It's all awesome! I can't tell the difference. I had a store brand full-fat key lime Greek yogurt this morning and it was delicious. I can't wait to try the other new grocery store yogurt flavors (honey, coconut, and apricot/mango). The best part though is that I have cut the grocery bill more than half!! I can't believe it! My previous shopping methods were basically like setting money on fire every week. The difference has been amazing, tasty, and not at all difficult or painful. There's still work to be done though, because I got an $89 box of dog treats in the mail yesterday, for one month, for one dog. Oh, the humanity. She has her walking treats, her pee-pee treats, her after-dinner treats, her tooth-cleaning treats, her joint supplement treats. And that's not even FOOD yet. Her dog food situation is out of control too. I blame Paleo. When I went grain free many years ago, so did the dog. Not that dogs should be eating corn, wheat, or soy-based diets. But I maybe went 'round the bend a little bit by switching her to exclusive, high-dollar, human-grade everything. There is a middle ground. She eats bugs and trash for dog's sake. She doesn't care! So, I've been perusing DogFoodAdvisor.com for more affordable brands that rate well. Stand by for future generic food adventures. Certain things I won't be downgrading. Grass-fed beef needs to happen, for example, and Ben & Jerry's. Just about everything else is fair game though.