2.28.2014

february wrap-up





$99.40 is the total I spent on groceries for the month of February.  I'm happy with that.  My goal is to spend no more than $100 a month and so I just made it.  What is so strange to me is that even though I'm spending less than half of what I normally would, I have more food in the house and we are eating better than ever before.  I have to hand it to the blog for this because of the accountability factor.  Another thing I've noticed this month is that things are getting easier, or maybe I should say things are falling into a groove. Before if I was missing an ingredient for a dish, I'd run to the market and get it.  I'm just not doing that these days.  I improvise or just wait.  I would always run into a store for one thing and come out with 3 or 4 or more even.  That added substantially to my grocery bill and oftentimes led to waste.  Another thing is that I feel we are eating a lot healthier.  Eating fresh food prepared at home just can't be beat.  At times even the best restaurants disappoint.  So again, win win.  I haven't been tempted to buy much of anything either. I hope that continues.  Our overall goal is to pay off the mortgage in 5 years so we are now 3 months closer to that.  I know it seems like an eternity away and lots of things can go wrong that would derail us but staying the course is the only way this is going to happen.  I have to stay focused and that's where the blog is helping the most.  Lots of you have sent me your grocery receipts and say you are motivated too for lots of different reasons, that in turn inspires me to keep going.  

During the month of March I'd like to continue the grocery shopping accountability but I will be posting the receipts at the end of the week.  That way if we were to be out of town I won't be announcing it to the world beforehand.  You know what I mean?  Also, during March my goal/hope is to do a series on organizing the house.  A lot of you have asked for that and I will do my best to deliver.    

So have a decent weekend and see you soon.

70 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed your series on groceries and recipes. You inspire me to budget our spending. We rarely spend on anything because we don't have much extra, but when it comes to groceries, we certainly were over spending. That wasn't smart.

    Have you thought of hosting a "link-up" party? Knowing how many people are following your blog and actively commenting on your posts (and some of them are bloggers), I was thinking it might be fun (for us) if you do something like that? Like, one week grocery challenge link up, or vegan recipes link up, or organizing tips link up... Just a thought, no pressure here :) Have a lovely weekend, Janet! oxox

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    1. Just writing my thoughts on Yuko's comment.

      Janet, I love the simplicity of your blog. You stand out.
      Link-parties add clutter.

      Yuko, those that comment here that are bloggers still get in
      on Janet's popularity. It is easy to click on their name. I
      do this myself.

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    2. I don't think I would write a post myself to link up with, but I just thought it might be fun to have some bloggers gather and link up under the same theme or concept. That's something only a popular blogger (like Janet) can successfully do. I believe blogging is a community and it's funner when people could share their ideas. It really has nothing to do with getting in on her popularity. Again, it's just a suggestion.

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  2. Your main trick is really my main trick now as well - be more creative and use what you have already at home instead of running to the store for just 1 thing that is missing and then come home with more you didn't really need.

    Have a great weekend
    xo
    Mireille

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  3. I've loved reading about your recipes and saving on groceries but I'm VERY excited to read about your organization tips!
    My big problem is saving so many things because I plan on incorporating it into an Art project.
    I also have a stash of furniture that I have a hard time letting go of because I'm constantly changing my mind and rearranging the whole house. I swear, almost everything I own has at one time or another been in every room.
    I'm hoping you will post or someone will comment with something to help me with all my "treasures"!

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  4. I have really enjoyed reading about how you budget for food. As one who has shopped exclusively at Whole Foods for some time, I can see that I have a lot of room for improvement. I now go to Trader Joes prior to WF. Baby steps. Last week I went online and we do have a 99$ store in my town. I went there and was able to get a few things but they had very little in the way of fresh produce, although they were heavily stocked with packaged goods, which I buy few of. I figure that I might have gone at a time when stock was low so I will go back again. Organic produce was nonexistent but they did have more than I anticipated. And since they are new here, maybe the selection will increase in the future.

    On the plus side, my technology bill was reduced by $90. per month for the next year and got a $100. cash back reward. I reworked my iPad and iPhone so that they can share data and was offered a reduced price on my internet, cable, and land line bundle. I'd dump the land line but my cell reception is spotty inside my house and my 91 year old mother has trouble hearing me on the cell. Anyway, I am happy with the reduction in fees. I'm rationalizing that it makes up for my poor grocery shopping skills. :)
    Diane

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    1. Sounds like you are making a lot of headway on reducing expenses - congrats! Whenever our policies/contracts are about to renew I try to shop around for cheaper insurances, tech services (internet, landline, cellphones), and so on just to make sure we're getting good rates. It's a nice feeling knowing you're proactive in lowering expenses isn't it? My grocery shopping bill too needs work. I mostly shop at TJ's and just recently became a member of Costco. Hopefully the Costco thing will help.

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  5. I too have enjoyed our grocery shopping tips and recipes. It has inspired me to watch my grocery bill as well! There are 3 of us at home right now and I'm almost ashamed to admit that my grocery bill is in the neighborhood of $600 a month. Of course this isn't JUST food...it includes paper products, cleaning products and personal grooming products. But despite that I have become more aware of the food and what is being consumed and what is going to waste! Seems as though I shop like I might not be able to get there for a month or more.....which isn't necessary. So continue keeping us posted on shopping and recipes......I too am looking foward to your organizing of your house, however I don't see where you need to be anymore organized in that gorgeous hosue! Thanks for all the information you provide and bringing the obvious out to all of us! Laura

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  6. I am late coming to your blog (good in that I have older posts to read when you don't post) and have to say--I really look forward to your posts. Our house is paid for but our grocery spending is out of hand, I think because my husband is retired and likes to go out "to pick up a few things". I am trying to use what we have here in the house ( I cleaned up the cabinet I use as a pantry and sorted--it was in better shape than I imagined) and work with your recipes. Looking forward to organization posts!!!!

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  7. We've been in San Diego since December.
    Love, Love Love it here!

    I think menu planning is key to keeping costs down, as is a stocked pantry.

    We're building our square foot garden this ( rainy! yea!) weekend; I think a veggie plot would help you further in cutting your shopping costs-and to me square foot gardening is the best. Lots of yield for a small space; no weeding, easy to water, etc. Ours will be two plots of 4x8; one for watermelon/pumpkins and one for lettuce, tomato, cukes, spinach, onion, garlic, and kale-our salad garden.

    I tried our local 99cent store, but they had nothing in the way of organic that was fresh :(
    I'm not a store snob, but I only buy organic if its on the dirty dozen list :

    http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9160/12-fruits-veggies-with-the-most-pesticides-2013-dirty-dozen.html

    I do well at the local farmer's markets and Costco, believe it or not. We eat salad/veggies twice a day, so buying organic in bulk makes sense for us. Can't wait to have my garden up and running!

    I think your goal of no motgage is a smart one.
    If I knew at 25 what I know now about money/finance etc..ahh, hindsight.

    Enjoy the rain! I know we won't t get near what we need, but hopefully it will help, and maybe we'll get more in the next two months. Now I am off to sit on Ticketmaster's site with the hope of scoring Book of Mormon Tickets...

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    1. Oh, truer words were never spoken..."If I knew at 25 when I know now about money/finance."

      While I was spending money as fast as I earned it when a working (office) girl for some 15 years on my own as a younger adult, I would actually poke fun at at even-younger co-worker of mine who was extremely serious about saving (did they have IRAs then..?..I think he had IRAs or certificates of deposits; I was clueless about what either one of those were...).

      I don't like who I was in those years; I had no right to criticize him, even in fun...he was the smart one, I was the idiot.

      I once had a female co-worker who dressed plainly, drove a plain car, lived in a plain house...with a really drab, undecorated interior and seemingly no collections of things or hobbies (zero clutter, though!!)...and who I thought was a colorless and uninteresting workaholic who never did anything when she went on vacation but stay in her blah house. I worked in Human Resources at the time and woumd up having to help her with a 401K problem. She was not even age 40 and I nearly fainted when I saw what she had in her bundle of personal benefits, which also included substantial savings in a credit union. She'd been working as long as I'd been, same age and same number of years on jobs, but we were worlds apart in our financial profiles. She could have RETIRED at 40, probably on that 401K alone.

      I worked with yet another woman once who banked her full paycheck the entire time of six years I worked with her; they lived solely on the husband's income, never terribly depriving themselves, yet she particularly was never one to be buying a lot of stuff (although what she DID buy was good quality and then she keeps it forever) and she was never a clothes horse. They currently live in a million-dollar, "view' house and have many investments, including I think four rental homes which give them added income in retirement; they vacation in Europe twice a year.

      These are a few examples of what we choose; how we are...some people 'get it' early on and some, like me, pretty much get it too late. Can only now try to turn hindsight into foresight and live very carefully, which is why blogs like Janet's, and all of the helpful reader contents make a difference to many of us (hanging on every word!)..

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    2. Vickie, you could write a blog about all your experiences, especially the financial ones. Kind of a "what
      not what to do" blog, which we all could write on different subjects. Really, everyone has a story and
      experiences that could help others. That's what's so great about this blog is the sharing of information
      and life experiences. Janet has shared her life with us and we are all benefitting from her know-how.
      Lucky us.

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    3. Vicki,

      You sound A LOT how I was. I was a clothes horse (shopped at Nordstrom frequently) and then when I got divorced I worked a lot of overtime and pretty much spent every dime of it. (stuff for my new condo, going out with girlfriends, MORE clothes etc) The only thing I contributed to at the time was Savings Bonds. I can still remember my boss saying to me one day "I can't believe you don't participate in our profit sharing plan" (and my company did a match too) I was a fool and kick myself a lot for it. Finally wised up in my 40's, and remember it's never too late. I have a friend or two that will probably never get it though.

      Linda

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    4. Sorry I meant to say "you sounded like you WERE how I was". Didn't mean to imply that you are like that now!

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    5. I'm running on and on about this stuff too much. I recognize it when I look back on my comments. I need to hold up on the keyboard unless I have something really worth contributing; something original or new. But, yes, we can aspire to Janet's simplicity and good sense. Move forward; don't look back; learn from but do not repeat the mistakes. Because the lost opportunities can haunt you. What I would tell a younger woman is that it does take planning. Somebody said to me once, "I stopped planning my life because none of my plans ever work out anyway." Well, then, make a new plan. Seizing the day and living for the moment, making each day count, doesn't mean to never plan. When you don't plan, you are often forced to react, rather then be proactive. When you're forced to react, you can then feel like a victim, and who wants to feel like that; nobody. Some of us don't learn things as fast as others or don't have, even as mature adults, the ability to look ahead at consequences for today's actions. It means we have to work harder at it than the next person.

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    6. oh the financial mistakes i've made...i could write a book! but we did do a few things right too. i'm so grateful for the few things we did do right. and i feel like right now we've got to play catch up and get this house paid for. sometimes thinking about past mistakes is a huge motivator and other times it can take the wind right out of my sails. i agree with everyone here, leaning on ea other and learning from ea other is so helpful. thanks everyone. j

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    7. Janet, I would bet there are more of us that have made financial mistakes than not. (reading some comments here make me feel better) The one thing I did do right was buying that condo after my divorce when I was 35... it was a priority for me because I didn't know at the time if I would get remarried or not and wanted that security of owning my own home someday. Wish I had hung onto it longer, and not sold when I did but our current home is worth a lot more than what we paid for it so I guess it evened out in the end. And we haven't touched our equity...so I guess we have made some good decisions! :)

      Wow, I have been posting too many comments here today. Must be the rainy weather being stuck inside!

      Linda

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    8. Mistakes? Oy vey. I would make you cringe with my divorce story! But, rebounded and now looking for any way to catch up, so....

      Love this thread, and all of your comments. Im learning the intricacies of the posters as much as Janet and save up time to be able to read everyone's posts/ideas/mistakes/victories. Loving this!

      Lor

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    9. Lor,

      My divorce was not pretty either, but guess I had to go through a little crap to end up with a great guy in the end. Looking back, my ex did me a favor! We were really not a good match.

      Linda

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  8. Janet,

    Love this. We have started trying harder also as our food/hair products/house hold products bills was about $1,200 a month and we do not eat luxury no eat out. But encouraged by your posts, I am attempting to break it down in various ways, as see how we can reduce bills. We still have 2 girls at home, so it is important to make sure they eat healthy. We have been able to cut down and it really is about being accountable. It really is.

    Thanks for the encouragement and honestly.

    Ann

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  9. I think that you are making a very wise decision getting your mortgage out of the way. It frees up money that you can save for your retirement. Your skills are admirable and I think you are setting a fine example for many readers, myself included. I love that you are sharing some great healthy recipes.
    Whenever we could manage we "doubled up" our payments to pay our mortgage off faster. The extra money went straight to the principal so it cut our time owing by many years...it took great discipline and thrift and now that I am retired I feel good that we made that choice.

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  10. Because of your blog (and a little guilt over the amount of food we waste), I have been so much better at using leftovers. I made a soup this week with some leftover sausage (sorry, Leslie), a lonesome pepper, potatoes that usually end up with eyes and a few more ingredients. It was great! I am now looking for a recipe to use up the steamed broccoli that didn't get lapped up by my grandchildren. Apparently, when their Mom says they like broccoli, it means she got them to eat one piece. Maybe a quiche is a possibility.

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    1. Oh, and a series about organizing the house would be fabulous.

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  11. Yay, it's finally raining! Have you seen the satellite (NASA) images of southern California? It's frightening, So. Cal is actually brown from drought.

    Janet, I love the series you do - all of them. It is fantastic that you spent less than $100 dollars on groceries for the month. I would pass out if I hit that milestone. Alas, I have a 15 yr. old daughter who has her teenage friends over a lot and you know what that means: they are bottomless pits :) It makes me happy to see them eat though since I didn't have much food when I was a kid (I remember eating margarine because that was all we had). I probably overcompensate but I can't help saying "Are you guys hungry? Want a snack?" when they come over. I need to figure out a way to reduce the expense.

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  12. Janet,
    Love the post: Calif drought you may start seeing an increase cost in food: I read where farmers in the San Joaquin Valley aren't being allowed to irrigate their orchards, ie one was almonds.

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  13. Wow, that grocery bill total is amazing and your food looks delicious! Being consistent and organized is key to accomplishing goals, and you have definitely got it. Your blog is such a positive influence on us all, and I greatly appreciate the time you take to share it with us. I'm also so excited about the home series, thank you!

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  14. You have inspired me to shop at the Point Nine Nine store and I've become more of a fan of the Grocery Outllet. I'm trying to avoid over-buying of fresh food so I don't waste things. Keep up the wonderful posts. Debby

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    1. Anonymous,

      I have shopped at the Grocery Outlet a few times myself in the last month. I have noticed a lot of the items are close to the best buy/expiration date so I just buy things I know I will use right away. I did score on some Lindt chocolate bars recently there....57 cents! I bought a dozen, chocolate keeps a long time. :)

      Linda

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  15. I love your end of the month wrap ups! It's a way of being accountable & it's inspired me to look back on my month & wonder if I have reached any of my own goals. Thank you for that & your food bill still blows my mind! Baby steps here w/ our grocery bills but I am seeing progress.

    Kristi

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  16. Looking forward to the home organization posts!

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  17. You should be on Barbara Walter's next "10 Most Influential People" special. I've changed from Whole Foods to a farm stand grocery store where produce is almost half the price. I've reduced my food bill by about 30 percent. I still think groceries are a lot more expensive in the Northeast--I think that sprouted bread you buy is $4.99 here--but at least I'm thinking about it and I found an easy way to save money.

    Now if you can help me organize my kitchen, I'll be changed person. I still don't know how you get by with so little kitchen stuff. But I really want to shed some of the gadgets and things I rarely use.

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  18. Thank you, Janet for your thoughtful, helpful posts. I'm commenting for the first time in quite a while b/c of a family health problem. But I want to say that your example has helped me to reduce our already modest food costs by 25% for the past two months. I'm saving for finishing our landscaping this spring. I do wish we had a .99 store nearby. The NE is really expensive.

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  19. March = Household Organization Month - YAY! I am swamped with Stuff and feel paralyzed in trimming it down. I love our short get-away trips when I can live out of a duffle bag. I was a home ec teacher and trained to have huge files of materials to use in teaching. I have at least 100 cookbooks. Know what i do now to find a recipe? I go to epicurious.com. The cookbooks are dusty, and at 75 I will never do all that crafty stuff again. I need the guts to rid myself of the superfluous and my tendency to hoard "just in case I may someday need this." Is this a denial that I have fewer years left on earth?

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    1. I am with you and also feel that as we mature, we realize that "stuff" just weighs us down. But, like you, I get paralyzed when I think about conquering it, especially our attic. I think we need both guts and baby steps.

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    2. You sound like me...except I must have 300 cookbooks ��

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    3. What helped me: This week let one book be released from its prison. Give it away, throw it away, it doesn't matter. They didn't come into your house in one day; it would be difficult for all of them to leave in one day. You say this book is useful? The information contained is "not" useful if you are not using it!
      Be kind, someone else could use it.
      That's it. One book this week.
      As flylady (and Kristien62) say, "baby steps".
      One book.
      Do it.
      And tell us how it feels.
      ~skye

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  20. Oh, thank you, Janet. Looking forward to all of your plans for the blog. Thanks for the great effort you put into it.

    Please also, if you can, do a post eventually about your exercise routine. I'm very interested to know what you're doing for strength training and how often each week, i.e. weights, repetitions, etc..Maybe I'm crazy but I'd thought, at one time, you'd mentioned something about it. On top of everything else, although I'll be darned if I'm gonna let it get me down, I've also recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is common...yet no picnic. I refuse to live my life on anti-inflammatory prescription medications and want to do every single thing I can do otherwise to fight-the-fight against pain, reduced flexibility/motion, joint destruction, etc. I'll be in sessions with a physical therapist next week for my plagued knee but I like to gather information from lots of sources. I know you don't like it if we look to you as an 'expert' on things, but I'm sure your exercise regimen is sensible (I know you already do walking, hiking, gardening and yoga...are you a Pilates girl, too?). Thanks very much; whatever you might share about it; most anything you ever do is helpful to me.

    Stay dry this weekend. Although at one point I wanted to stand in the middle of the backyard, raise my face to the sky and give thanks for good rain. (All the while hoping acquaintances in Glendora don't get in trouble with landslides.) It's kinda cute; the neighbors have a hugely-growing pup...a mastiff...who has never experienced the rain. He just doesn't know what to do with himself over it and has had me laughing so hard!

    I remembered to put out a lot of buckets to gather some good rainwater for the yard!

    Congratulations on getting such amazing control of your food budget. I think it's wonderful your mortgage could be paid off in five years. Good for YOU!!

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    1. See my comment below...it was supposed to be a reply to you Vicki.

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    2. Please check out the website http://doctoryourself.com and look up vitamin c. I took megadoses for my back pain. I have a very bad herniated disc and the vitamin c got rid of the pain. I still have a herniated disc - it didn't fix that - and it's hitting my sciatic nerve so I have food numbness/pain, but I swear by it for pain now. I know it sounds crazy, but he has plenty of reference material. vitamin c is an anti-inflammatory.

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    3. Oh, thank you so much for this referral. my 'bad' knee of the moment (well, last two months) was triggered from my all-too-often irritated sciatic nerve, which I flared up with disc injury in the 90s (I've got a couple of bad discs in my neck, too, from whiplash/car accident in my 20s...yeah, the discs...always there, and they must be respected!).

      Some of us are among the 'walking wounded' when we surely didn't want to be but my doctor says it's important to have the mindset of impairment vs. disability. Being impaired with these nuisance medical issues does not mean life has to stop.

      I took large doses of Vitamin C when I was a small, skinny child suffering from bronchial asthma and I'm wondering about that now since you spoke of it as an anti-inflammatory; wish Mom was still alive to ask why. The airways react to so many things (triggers) with the disease of asthma...they get very inflamed... that maybe the extra Vitamin C was prescribed all those many years ago to settle them down. Makes sense; it's what anti-inflammatories do for a lot of other diseases.

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    4. Vickie, how is your asthma now? Did you grow out of it?

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    5. Vicki,

      One more thing to add...you are wise to avoid the anti-flammatories as much as possible. A former neighbor of mine who is in her fifties has stage 3 kidney disease from taking prescription strength Motrin for over 30 years. Tylenol is bad for the liver, anti-inflammatories bad for the kidneys.

      Linda

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    6. My childhood asthma. It was a different time. The 1950s-1960s when there weren't all the asthma meds there are today. I never had to be on oxygen; I was never hospitalized with an attack. My life was very regimented; I was mostly an indoor kid (that's what they did in those days; they kept you inside and your mindset became that exertion, exercise and being outside was bad whereas nowadays it's maintenance/watchfulness, of course, but it's OKAY to exercise the lungs and be outside; I saw a cardiologist for surgery clearance last Spring and he said he works with many baby boomers who need to be on an exercise program but who are afraid to exercise, having been asthmatics as children). I grew out of the asthma somewhat by the age of 18, having been official diagnosed at the age of 5 but suspected as a sufferer from basically age 2. I had what I assume was albuterol as a rescue med (we called it a mist-o-meter, not an inhaler); I took some sort of oral meds in the form of pills and a syrup, I guess for coughs, which was later brought out as OTC. I had allergy injections every week all summer. I had many food allergies which had to be monitored. My mom took up the rugs permanently and wet-mopped my bedroom every single day to avoid dust, which was a trigger. My dad never smoked in the house again. We didn't get a dog for ten years. I had a lot of colds and flu-type episodes. My asthma was always worse by late afternoon/evening and in the night (nocturnal asthma).

      It can be typical to grow out of asthma; we started reducing the meds. By age 18 I was only taking half a pill daily, then no pill. As a young adult, I was very prone to bronchitis but using an inhaler became non-existent. By the time I was in my mid-30s, I was walking/running several miles a day. My asthma returned when I hit 40. I understand this is also typical. I was living on the Gulf Coast; always felt like my lungs were flooded with ice water. I went to every specialist I could there and was told, "Asthma, yes. AKA 'reactive airway disease' because your particular airways react to everything and you couldn't be living in a worse place than Houston with the humidity (mold spores in the air) and the oil industry/pollutants in the ozone." Back home in SoCalif., I got better. And I went six years without having to use an inhaler. Asthma came back with a vengeance at age 47 and has never gone away in the years since. I'm not on maintenance drugs. I do best in an environment of 60s F. because mixing humidity with heat brings it on. Albuterol is still my rescue inhaler. My asthma is now mostly triggered by weather, stress, overheating, molds, chemical smells, blowing dust particles with a forced air furnace. I have poor conditioning due to some recent health problems and I need to lose weight. I believe if I was in better condition and thinner, I'd have better control of my asthma, so I'm working on this. A complication which could be a side effect to lifelong asthma is that I have developed arthritis in the chest wall...sometimes when it inflames, it can exacerbate the asthma, but sometimes asthma exacerbates the arthritis. My asthma is much worse if I don't get proper sleep. The singer, Wynonna, said this same thing once in an article I read about her in a magazine.

      Did I grow out of my asthma from childhood, yes. I was mostly asthma-free for a lot of good years. Did it come back, yes. Will I probably always have it, yes. Asthma is an incurable respiratory disease. But it can be managed and managed well. I had to learn to live with it again. It's important to say that I never smoked. If your kid or you has asthma, just talk to your doctor and develop a program for meds, diet, activity/lifestyle, etc. I have asthma but it's the least of my worries at the present time.

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    7. Thanks, Vickie...I appreciate your input on this subject. You're so knowledgeable on many topics. My guess is you have a curious nature and love to read. Right?
      kathleen

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    8. Yep. My comment was, as usual, too long but I sensed there was interest for you or someone you love on the topic of asthma (although how we get to asthma from Janet's post is another mystery!). Anyway, hope my personal experience could be helpful. Asthma is scary; it's no fun to have narrowed airways and feel you can't get your breath; it can feel like dying; a fish struggling out of the water. Try to explain it to a child; impossible. So many nights, I can remember my dad pinch-hitting for my mom (she had a newborn, too!), letting her get her sleep while staying up with me himself in the bad-breathing nights, holding me in his sheltering arms (upright, because laying down makes asthma worse)...for sometimes hours, when he had a job to go to and needed his own rest...while my breathing labored and I would be so frightened, which would of course make the asthma that much worse. It's a tricky thing with asthma...anxiety (and even happy excitement) can bring on asthma, but asthma brings on anxiety, so which is which sometimes! It can be a combination of environment and emotion.

      I can only talk about what I know personally, my own self, so this has been my individual experience with the disease.

      I think one of the worst things for a kid is when you stand out, different from the pack, in a way you don't want to stand out. I couldn't participate in sports but I really did try to stay in physical education classes. The teachers/coaches weren't very sympathetic. One time in junior high (middle school) I got a straight-A report card except for a C in P.E. My uncle was so furious, he went to the school about it; his sister (my mom) couldn't stop him; he knew I was college-prep and was afraid they were going to ruin my GPA and academic ranking going into high school. I could never achieve an A in phys/ed. A difficult thing for everybody was managing my food intake. I was deathly allergic to things like chocolate, peanut butter, dairy...normal kid food (at least normal/conventional/majority of the times). There were only two of us in grade school with home-packed school lunches, so we had to go ahead of the cafeteria line (we already had our food!). There we'd be, the two 'misfits'--two lone kids at a table--for the whole school to see while everybody else queued up. I'm sure my supportive parents or teachers tried to explain it to me but, you know, I felt somewhat humiliated to have a health problem that most kids did not have (I believe asthma is more common in children today than then). I was lucky that my mom, in spite of her rigid control over me...what else could she do when her child's life could be at stake...gave me pretty much complete freedom at home (so as not to feel so encumbered) to explore whatever I fancied, be it art or forts/castles (we'd shop the house even then!) or puppet theatre, music. I wasn't just plunked in front of a television set all day. She was an avid reader and fostered my love of reading.

      These days, my eyes are giving me fits, and it's hard to read my books or, as evidenced by my numerous keyboard mistakes, write a clean comment. I am extremely nearsighted since the age of 10 or before, have a cataract as well as glaucoma. And I'm still in my 50s. (Sigh...falling apart...) It's more than a little discouraging...advancing age. I have crummy genes. All the more why I come to Janet's blog, trying to at least get it right from here on, to a healthier everyday-life all the way around!

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  21. My husband was born in Glendora, moved to San Diego when he was 11. :)

    Linda

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    1. I never knew anything about Glendora til my first boyfriend...his family still lived there, although he'd gotten out of the L.A. basin and moved to the coastal north when developers started plowing up orange trees for more urban spread. I hadn't realized, because I didn't really pay attention to stuff like that when I was younger, how mountainous it is in the Azusa-Glendora area and also how it's just a short drive to 'the country.' His brother's girlfriend had horses back then in Diamond Bar and and of course Cal Poly Pomona is all about agriculture. Hope all will be okay for everyone in the hills.

      I can't believe how muddy how fast we've gotten but it's because so much ground cover has dried up due to the drought; there weren't even weeds in empty lots anymore, so too much run-off and nothing to hold the dirt. I sank in mud past my ankles in my own yard this morning and nearly fell...like with everything, there's always a downside but I'm doing no complaining because if they can just keep the barrancas and storm drains clear, we desperately need this rain. I can't even remember when my town's creek and the valley's river last had any kind of significant water; I think it's been three years since the creek ran dry.

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    2. Yes, there is definitely a possibility of mudslides right now. I remember the La Conchita one in 2005, we drove past there that summer...unbelievable.

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    3. I'd forgotten about the small, beachy enclave called La Conchita there at the ocean just south of Santa Barbara. I think I purposely put it out of my mind because it was so unbelievably tragic, the horror of landslide/mudslide and loss of life. I'd always liked the funky/surfing/hippie-style community there but, yeah, seeing the aftermath of that slide made me put on blinders when driving the coast highway.

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  22. Janet, you have really inspired me to budget/cutback and make paying our house off early a priority too. But it will have to wait until our daughter's wedding is over in Sept.

    I know that you are aiming to pay yours off in 5 years, how many years are left to pay on it as of today? We have 14 left (just did a re-fi last year) and I would like to be done in 10 years or less. Definitely before my husband retires!

    I still can't believe you only spent $100 this month on groceries...that's crazy! I did really good this week between the 99 cent store and Sprouts I only spent $20. (got a lot for that $20) But then I went to Trader Joe's and spent $50. :(

    Linda
    xo

    P.S. I finally listed a few things on Ebay! I have lots more to sell but I want to hold off to see how I do first.

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    1. Linda (and Janet),
      Just downsized to a home HALF the size (oy vey), and I am very interested in listing on ebay. Ive done a bit in the past, but ended up paying to get rid of the stuff (due mostly to shipping). I have a host of stuff to sell, and Id love an update on how this goes for you guys and your secrets to ebay success. (blog idea Janet?) Thx!

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    2. Hi Lor,
      I 'm trying to declutter too...I don't have a ton of stuff but have some things I'm not using anymore and some of my in-laws things.

      I haven't gotten too much traffic on my Ebay account yet, but I just started to list a few things this week. I'm only selling within the U.S. but selling internationally seems to be too daunting. My sister has done well and she sells only to the U.S. and Canada. She told me sometime it can take months to sell something so don't get discouraged.

      When you listed items before did you check on Ebay's advanced search to see what similar items had sold for? The instructor in my Ebay class said don't list anything for less than you are willing to take for it. Some people are willing to pay the shipping, just try to calculate it as fairly as you can. Just remember Ebay takes a cut of the shipping too. Also if an item is under 13 oz. (including packing material) you can ship first class and it is way cheaper.

      Good luck and I will keep you posted on my progress!

      Linda

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    3. Thx Linda.... Ill watch for your progress!

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  23. Wow, Janet! Such a small amount spent for groceries while still eating so well. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  24. $100 a month is amazing and an impossibility for us down under in Aus. Ah well.
    A five year goal on your mortgage is a big one. I've come to the conclusion that mortgage is a fact of life. House prices are up there with food prices.

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  25. As always I am inspired and delighted and quite puzzled. Congratulations on meeting your goal two months in a row.
    Is it uncouth that I'm craving a greyhound at 8:55 am? At work?

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    1. PS I hear you got rain!!! Yay! I'm sure you're thrilled you did all that garden work beforehand. I'll bet the roses will grow like crazy.

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    2. Sounds pretty normal, Stephen. As long as we don't give in to those cravings at 8:55 am we're doing ok...
      wait 'til 9.
      kathleen

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    3. Haha thank you! Very wise words. :)

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  26. Wow! Another month already gone!! You are doing a great job with the food bill. Five years may seem like a long way off, but look at how quickly the last two months have flown by. And, you're able to see short term rewards as well. I hope the rain didn't cause you flooding damage. I'm looking forward to your home organization posts for March. Sounds very interesting. xx

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  27. I have so enjoyed following you on your blog. The content is refreshing and guiding me to shop more intelligently. Keeping focused on the simple things in life is the way I want to be. Keep your good work going for us to follow. Thanks, Bobbie

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  28. I noticed that a few of you have "too many" cookbooks. When my dad died, I took his cookbook collection to the church food pantry and they were very thankful for the books--as it is hard to cook without a book for many people. The food pantries are also thankful for packaged food bags. Quart size to gallon sizes. To divide large bags of rice or flour so more people get some. I think some of our extra food prep stuff could also be useful to the food pantries--ask first.

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    1. That's a really nice idea. I suffered a tragic loss...sibling died suddenly in his 30s...from which I found it difficult to recover and, as is my norm, I turned to a multitude of books on loss and grieving for help in coping. As in most things, I go overboard and had a slew of these books which, later on, I no longer referred to, so donated them to my local hospice's reading/lending library, hoping it might help other people as they did have a grief group as well. You can find the right homes for things. I also had a few sets of encyclopedias and, even though so many kids are online now, one complete set of encyclopedias went to my local Boys and Girls Club and they seemed to really appreciate it. (One service club in town still passes out paperback dictionaries and thesauruses to students at the start of the school year and it was explained how much they love them because it's something just for themselves when there are still families who do not have computers at home.) I also donated many volumes of aviation books which were passed thru the family to my brother. When he died, Ithe entire set went to our local airport for their museum (they would loan out books in certain circumstances). My husband's doctor has a lending library in his office. Patients will bring in books; other patients will take some home (you are allowed to take three; they go fast). Finally, I also routinely donate books to Friends of the Library, where they are sold locally and also online (Amazon secondhand marketplace) to earn money to help the community library. I even sold some books of my parents' and grandparents' to an antique store who was glad to buy the first editions or really old (but in still-good shape) hardcover books.

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  29. Great posts this week! Love your focus on saving money without feeling deprived. I have to admit that I spend $125 a week on groceries mostly because I buy organic either locally or at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Well none of it is cheap. We are retired and spend a lot of time on the go and eat out 4 to 5 times a week....although it is fun, I know that we could do better with our money. (We have no debt other than our home). We will pay off our mortgage one year early...in 3 1/2 years. You have inspired me to cook more at home and be more careful with our resources.

    Catt in Kentucky

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  30. I recently went to check out my .99 store. It does not sell fresh food. Bummer!
    I'm still motivated by your actions and recipes Janet.
    You really are an inspiration to so many. You walk the talk girl!

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  31. I just spent the weekend reading your entire blog from day one.....you are such an inspiration and I enjoyed every entry. Thanks for all your great advice, recipes, humorous comments and honesty! Please keep blogging----you make my day happier!........Janie

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  32. Would you ever consider giving classes? You share such wisdom. I also think you could host dinners and share your menu tips and budgeting. Sign me up. I marvel at your accountability and honesty. You are inspiring. Do you ever make mistakes?
    pve

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  33. Janet, I love your home and style. it's elegant and chic, but has a calmness and simplicity. Love how you painted the insides of those cabinets too. Great post! Kim

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  34. Sorry I think I commented on the wrong post, but I have been enjoying your wrap-ups too and the recipes! xx

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  35. Off topic, but thought you might like this -

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/garden/the-wildebeest-in-the-room.html?ref=garden

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kindness is never out of style.