This is what I look like when I’m foraging, ferreting and erranding.
Yeah. That was me heading out the door on Tuesday, when I drove all over town, made 11 stops, and ended up saving a bajillion dollars. Where did I go? What did I do? You really wanna know? OK, kiddo. Strap on your helmet and let’s go!
- Sunglasses, car keys, cell phone, hot coffee (in Mom mug).
- Purse and sweater (in case it gets chilly, which it did not).
- Envelope full of current coupons.
- Green bag is my “briefcase” du jour – a slender reusable bag that held all my sale papers/inserts, and my lunch. Because I’m gonna be gone a couple of hours, so I need to be prepared NOT to drive through Taco Bell.
- Receipt for dry cleaning.
- Note the iron, which shorted out in the cord the day before, leaving me with 2 full baskets of ironing to do and no iron. We’re gonna find a shop that will fix it. We hope.
- A budget. I’m not going to spend more than $100, as G*d is my witness…
I pushed the trip-minder odometer in the car to 0 and rolled gently away.
First stop was Walgreen’s, where I had coupons from the sale paper, plus the flyer with school supplies on sale. I intended to get most, if not all, of the Boy’s school supplies. I got a stack of single-subject spiral bound notebooks in manly colors (no pink, please) and 2 5-subject notebooks; copier paper (2 reams), a package of binder paper, 3 wooden rulers for 9 cents each (what’s that about?), a box of 100% recycled paper tissues for the teacher, and some scissors (I want a little pair of scissors for my purse so I can clip coupons. I know, NERD!). I also bought a $5 pack of 6 dishtowels in a moment of weakness. I walked out of there with a receipt for $22 … but … when I got to the car and checked the OfficeMax flyer, Zounds! They had scissors on sale for 20 cents! I took back the little pair of scissors and got my $2.11 back. I said, “I wasn’t supposed to get these.” Like, I’m not allowed to run with them or something. Lady rolls eyes. I take my money back to the car and buzz to the next stop.
Downtown, to where there are several fix-it shops, the library, the bank, and Goodwill. I did not intend to shop, but to donate. If I donated a bag of stuff to Goodwill, I got a coupon worth $5 off my next $25 spent. I can use that. Two fix-it shops downtown told me the iron is unfixable — or that they can’t do it, but a guy in Oakland at International and 30th can do it, and that was the end of my endeavor to fix it — for now. Next time I go to Oaktown I will venture that way. One guy tried to sell me a $79 steam iron. I said I needed to think about it. A long time. Ran through the library for a quick look-up of a book I want (The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone), but there’s a waitlist, so I made a request and then went back to the car.
The Mall. OfficeMax had lots of school supplies on sale, but they’d been ransacked. I got scissors for 20 cents, which just made me tingle all over, and also Sharpies and highlighter pens. I left there with about $3.50 in damages. Then to Safeway, where corn was on sale at 6 for $1. I loaded up a big bag full of corn and also grabbed a flat of Santa Cruz strawberries on sale. Everything else I got with coupons or off the discount shelf in back (dented cans, etc.), so my final tally there was $48.87, with $28.89 in savings, and a 10 cents off per gallon coupon for gas. Woot!
Pit stop to drop off clothes at my fave consignment shop, All the More to Love, but doh! They weren’t taking clothes that day! Wasted trip. Next stop: bread donation site, where I loaded up on baguettes, sliced sandwich bread and whole grain batards. Next stop: dry cleaners, where I picked up a pair of slacks that I had cleaned. Sometimes you just can’t wash, dry and iron everything. $5.50 total.
Almost done…except for the iron. I went to CVS, where I had a coupon for 50 cents off my next purchase, and bought a decent Proctor-Silex steam iron for $16. Minus the 50 cents. Which made this a red-letter day in my budget…
Damages for the day: $93.37
Lunch: eaten in the car (water, coffee, Power Bar, apple, peanuts, green salad).
Follow-up chores: Freeze bread, slice baguettes and oven-toast into crostini, feed leftover bread to chickens; sort/store office supplies; freeze corn on and off cob; freeze or dry strawberries. Try out new iron. Go back to ATMTL another day. Keep broken iron in the car for next trip to Oakland. Balance checkbook from day’s expenses. Pat self on back for good day’s work. Fall asleep with sudoku and cat after dinner.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.