Category Archives: Shopping

My, How Things Have Changed

This morning I saw a child walking to school.  And it struck me how something so completely normal now seems weird to see.  A lot of things that used to be perfectly normal in February are unusual in Covid times.  It’s odd to see people standing close together (it even triggers me when I see it on TV!).  I cringe when I see people without masks.  Name brand Clorox Wipes are impossible to find, and I rush to text my friends when I find the off-brands in stores.  And I generally don’t go to stores.  My groceries come from curbside pick-up.  Beer from my local brewpub is delivered to my front porch.  Eating restaurant food now means takeout or delivery.  Concert tickets are now sold by the car for a drive-in experience.  My commute to work is now a walk from my living room to my guest room.  And meeting with students one-on-one now involves a webcam.

A lot of things have changed in life to accommodate the Covid-19 pandemic.  How we spend money is no small part of that shift.  My impulse purchases in stores are WAY down.  Because I don’t go to stores.  By ordering my groceries online for pick-up it forces me to think about what I need in advance.  In the before times I would retrieve a cartload of grocery staples from the store every weekend, and my husband (who does most of the cooking) would make a supplemental trip to the store nearly every day to get things he wanted for that day’s dinner.  Now I place an order once or twice a week for pickup and my head chef works with what we have on hand (in what he calls the daily mystery box challenge).  Our grocery budget has definitely decreased due to this change.

It almost sounds like the pandemic would be saving me a fortune.  But that’s not true at all.  Everything gained on groceries and gas seems to be spent on my own sanity (retail therapy—the struggle is real!).  Clothes and gadgets that I used to buy at Goodwill are now coming from online retail sites….at a higher cost.  Restaurant food (which is typically a Friday night treat for us) now comes with a delivery charge.  Additionally, I seem to have developed a fabric purchasing habit in an effort to make masks so cute that I can’t wait to wear them.  And writing this makes me realize that I really should focus some effort on reducing my food delivery and Amazon expenses…

Times are weird.  And things have changed, including how I spend my money.  How have your spending habits evolved with the pandemic?

Keeping the Coffee on the Cheap

With the start of the semester come early mornings, late nights, and long drives (well…at least for me as I hit the road between University Park and Carlisle on a regular basis).  This can only mean one thing:  COFFEE!!!!

I’m a big fan of this miracle elixir.  But I’m not a big fan of paying more than necessary for it.  The best way to save money on coffee is to make your own at home.  Every morning I brew a pot of Trader Joe’s Dark and leave for work with my favorite travel mug full and a backup Thermos to refill it from.  Sadly, sometimes this isn’t enough.  I keep a box of K-cups in my office just in case I need a little extra to get me through the day.  While K-cups aren’t as cheap as brewing at home, it’s a lot cheaper than buying a ready-made cup of Joe.

Coffee mug

But there are definitely times when I need to buy a cup of coffee, all ready to go.  I’m not a fan of the fancy coffees with the flavors and espresso shots and whipped cream.  I like my coffee black, with a bit of sweetener.  That definitely helps to keep the costs down.  But I’m always looking for a way to shave a bit of money off the cost of my java.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to bring my own travel mug.  The Sheetz store I always stop at on my way to Carlisle charges only $0.95 to refill my own mug, but at least a quarter more for a small in a cup they provide.  Plus with my My Sheetz Card I get a free cup after purchasing ten.  Kind of a frequent coffee drinker discount.  And for students at University Park, you won’t want to miss this special offer from Au Bon Pain.

Enjoy the start of the semester.  And keep your coffee on the cheap!