Monday, October 19, 2009

18 October 1955 “Modern Frustrations and Victory Week”

bored housewife I had meant to post this blog yesterday, but instead was given another reason to be frustrated with the modern world. Our Internet service, which is through Verizon ( a loathsome company) was shut off. There was a mix up of course which resulted in hours on the phone, being transferred to various locations et al. All very frustrating. It is sad to me that even if one wants to be a compliant little middle class family, paying their bills on time and being good citizens, we are still suffered to the whims and failings of a company SO big, that it has customer service in India, Tech support in Mexico and Billing in who knows where. So, due to their error, I am still left without internet until this afternoon, so hopefully I can publish this today.

It made me again realize how the small local store/ company is such much better at customer service. If a local shop treated me the way this company has continually treated me, they would not last long. If the town heard of ‘Mr. Jones’ treating someone poorly, or suddenly adding services to my account, it get around town and he would have to deal with it. There is a certain level of community and resp0nsibility connected to local business that does not need to exist on the level companies currently are run. What could I do? I could NOT have internet, but then how would I do my project and continue to build my relationship with all of you. I hate feeling so trapped by such poor service knowing there is little I can do about it and will have to deal with it again in the future! I am planning on trying to find a new provider, but know I am merely exchanging one headache for another.

This post was originally entitled, “The Value of Things” and now as I am adding this addendum about my internet service, I realize how fitting it is. Truly, the value of a person today, in our present world, is merely there pocketbook. We are simply consuming machines that are so dependent and so plugged into the world, that we can be fed horrible service with endless ‘hidden fees’ and we just take it and move on. The percentage banks charges for overdrafts (which happen now because they will allow someone to use their debit card for greater than the amount they have in the bank and then charge up to 200% interest, that is worse than the MAFIA). I was offered today, during my ordeal on the phone, to be given the ‘convenience’ of having my account automatically taken from my bank or credit card. I can see how this would so easily add up to young people. They are taught nothing about savings and therefore just use their debit and credit cards without paying any attention to what they actually spend. It would be so easy, then, for a company such as Verizon to tack on (as they did to me but I was able to call and ask why)services here and there without the young person knowing. This adds up, gets to be a late charge, they are allowed to charge whatever they like for interest add to that the interest from the bank and is it any wonder there is so much debt? But, the easy answer of “Don’t Spend More than You Have” becomes cloudy and gray. A young person today really has no idea of money. There is very little cash, so much is used in debit/credit card form and late fees and eventual college loan dept is all des rigueur for our young generations. It makes me so worried and fretful of our future economies!

Now, onto victory week. Being unable to connect to all of you, I hope those who wanted to start it this week are still on board. Here is the list of my costs for my week adhering to my list.

Bread (one loaf)                                                                 1.79

Meat (30 oz. roughly 2 lbs)

      pork loin 1 lb.                                                                 3.29

      chicken thighs 1lb.                                                        2.99

Butter (two sticks-this was on sale this week!)         1.00

oil (12 oz)                                                                                  1.95

Bacon  (3.29 a lb I purchased 1/2 lb as indicated)  1.65

Eggs (one dozen local eggs)                                               3.00

Potatoes (5 lb bag on sale this week!)                            1.99

Milk (half gallon)                                                                     2.29

canned fish (2 cans of salmon)                                          3.98

Canned Veg (3 cans .69 cents ea)                                     2.07

Fruit (five apples)                                                                    3.00

Snack (one bag popcorn)                                                      1.99

Fresh veg (I was given fresh veg from farm)                   0

Flour (5 lb bag)                                                                           2.50

Sugar (1/2 of a 5 lb bag)                                                             .99

Oatmeal (steel cut rather expensive but good, 1 lb.)  4.99

Jam (homemade)                                                                           0

Chocolate (one 8oz bag of choc chips)                               1.99

Golden Syrup (16 oz.)                                                               4.79


This made a total cost of                                                       46.25

My normal weekly bill is between 40-50 for the two of us, so I believe this was due to the fact that I bought baking ingredients for this specific list and I bought from the local meat market so that was higher than usual. Now the test will be, using less, but buying local, how will it affect my weekly cooking. We shall see. It definitely would be highly impacted by having my own chickens, as eggs are such a good source of protein and such, but then their feed would need to be added into my monthly budget. So, how did everyone else fare with this shopping list? What did it cost and are you nervous about the this coming week’s menu?

My original post about ‘value’ I will put off until tomorrow, as I am going to post this as soon as the internet is back on. For those of you not participating, how do your food budgets compare? Do you shop for the week? Do you shop daily? Share and we can learn from one another.




  1. Oh man, sometimes dealing with big companies is difficult. I really do find persistence pays off big time because most people get frustrated and just stop - but you do great with groceries. And as to steel cut oat - my fave is expensive. silver palate and I love it so much more than anything Ive tried. I guess sometimes more money is worth it - but its the only one ive found worth paying more more money isnt always a better product.

  2. Yes, it has been frustrating. I felt rather bad and powerless the past two days, as I had no access to all of you.
    I will post my blog tomorrow about 'value'. Today I wanted to post my results for this weeks VICTORY WEEK, so we can go forward with that for any and all involved and of course for those of you interested in our results without participating. It will be interesting. I have some lovely recipes for canned salmon that I will also include in tomorrows blog, I just needed to get something up today to make sure you didn't think I was forgetting about all of you.

  3. We actually left Bell Canada over problem with overcharging in billings for the internet and phone, I was especially disgusted that I had to converse with a lady from India with whom I could barely understand, her linguistic skills were lagging to say the least.

    So for an extra thirty dollars a month, hubby and I came to the conclusion to go by the way of cable, which now offers phone service, internet and of course cable.

    The technician who came out to install the cable assured me that if I were to have a problem with the telephone per se, I would be conversing with a customer rep from Burlington, Ontario :) I was pretty happy about that to say the least.

    I am really trying to encourage my children to respect money, and often point out items that are on sale and what a great deal it is. My oldest knows that I will not buy anything from the grocery store unless it is on sale.

    The average grocery bill ranges from $150.00-$170.00 a week, this is for a family of four, my hubby eats quite a bit and my boy's who are 8 1/2 and 4 3/4 years are going through growth spurts and eat like horses.

    Last year and the year before that, I would often spend a ghastly $220.00 a week on groceries and not think anything of it, until hubby was laid off from his job due to the economy. I was pretty thrifty in many ways like not buying the lastest fads, only buying clothes when needed etc., but I used to refer to myself as a grocery snob, and would only buy from the A&P store down the street.

    Well I changed my tune and now shop at Price Chopper which is reduced prices and bag your own groceries, and you know what they have the greatest deals to boot.

    Right now I am in the process of saving my allowance for Christmas gifts for my parents and inlaws, that means sacrifice on my part- No Tim Horton's coffee (my one weakness), but slowly the money is being saved and what a great feeling that I am being a helpmate to my hubby.

    Love your post 50's gal
    Mom in Canada

  4. I just realized I posted the rough of my post for tomorrow and I am sure it is not easy to follow, I will fix that and repost tomorrow. This has been a crazy week with an out of town guest and so many things coming up, I do apoligize.

  5. Once more, great post 50s gal and its very much appreciated. (I feel a bit panicky at the thought of you not having had internet therefore us not being able access to your thoughts, experiences, ideas and inspiration. Hope I don't sound like a kookie stalker.):) I hope you can eventually find some arrangement with a service provider that meets more of your principles, if there's such a one.

    I usually do a major grocery shop fortnightly and pick up fresh fruit and vegetables and newly advertised weekly specials inbetween. (We do eat a lot of fresh produce. We only grow passionfruit and have recently planted citrus trees thanks to the inspiration of an Australian blog called down-to-earth by Rhonda Jean which you'll enjoy reading after 1955. She is also writing a book because of her blog. When the time comes you might be able to get some ideas from her on how to acoomplish this for yourself.)

    I really love reading about 'not buying' and 'quality verses quantity' which makes me even more mindful about my purchases. It's all very interesting about your Victory Week as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Always looking forward to your posts... Linda

  6. I think it's really sad that people value themselves by how much money they have. I offered to walk my friends dog for a week and said she didn't need to pay me (becuase i know she's in hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt). She almost seemed offended that I said not to pay me and told me that I needed to value myself! Oh, yea Im totally worth ten dollars!
    It seems so silly!
    And now in my little town they are building a fast tracks. (Basically a over ground subway) right next to all the houses and they are forcing people out of their homes because they only want the wealthy to live here. What's worse is they are trying to make my town a resort town. No real people will be able to live here because we won't be able to afford it! We will be stuck in an apartment forever!

  7. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... Yes, if it was a local store, it would not get away with such. But of course, we can't get our Internet, at a "local" store.

    And yes.... we are caught in a Catch 22. Sure we "could" tell them where to stick their Net connection. And how much good would that do US? None.

    Hope it was helpful, to vent here. And hope this sort of thing won't happen again, soon.

    Aunt Amelia

  8. None to worry, I have sorted, for now, the internet, but I am on the 'lookout' for a better provider. I might switch to cable as opposed to DSL. We shall see and I am really honored that you look forward to my posts and ideas.

  9. Linda-thanks for the advice on your friends blog and writing a book. It would be interesting to get her point of view. I have been considering writing the book (which I have been roughing out in my 'spare time')and if I can realistically get my website up come first of the year, perhaps offer my book as a free download and then if others thought it worth having, found of if anyone wanted to actually buy a copy, I could do a print as needed. Not sure. I do know I will want to write it all out in book form, but not sure what to do with it. As I said, it might be nice to offer as a download, what do you think?

  10. I'm not sure Sweetie. All I know is I want to read anything you write! I believe Rhonda Jean from Down to Earth (not a friend, sadly I rudely don't even comment on her popular simple living blog) is having a book published via a publisher because she'd sent in a submission using her blog as an example of her topics and writings. Sorry I don't know more. Maybe I'll look up her email and send it to you...

  11. That would be so nice of you, but don't feel you have to. I have thought of trying that, but not sure really. I do want to write out this year, although I have this blog as the year, I feel there is more that can be said and realized. Thanks for wanting to read what I write, I shall endeavor to write more and more often then!

  12. "write more and more often then!" Wow you spoil us already! I really do appreciate all your work.:)

    For future reference I THINK Rhonda Jean of email address is Linda

  13. I went and got groceries last night and spent $74. I had to purchase soap and tp on that bill, so there was some tax and those items included, but to feed 6 of us for about 6 days, I think I am doing fairly well. I shop my local store and am careful to watch the ads and buy sales. I usually get the sales add Tues or Wed and then make out my list accordingly.

    I understand about the big companies. I am fighting with my mortgage comp. right now. Long story, but I got a letter saying they sent a different letter a month ago and I didn't respond. I didn't receive the first letter. Now, I am trying to track down who sent the first one and why. The phone numver they gave me is not to this person (???) and the gent I talked to cannot locate a number for them. Ridiculous!!!!!

    I have argued with Verizon on occasion as well. Right now, they are my local phone service and we are thinking seriously about ditching that for pre pay cell phones. I will NOT do a cell contract for all the added fees and such, but we have had pre pays in the past and liked the service.

    Good luck and glad to know you are thinking of us. I pop in here a few times a day to check for new posts and read the comments. I love the comments as much as your posts.

  14. Currently, I shop and cook for four adults and one teen. Tired of the decrease in the quality of food at the supermarkets over the years, I finaly took charge. Yearly, we purchase one half of a steer. (cheaper) I buy one or two gallons a week of raw milk from a Mennonite farmer. (much cheaper) I purchase from an "old-timey" butcher. (can be more expensive) I also put up food and raise our own (expensive), but this year was a (planned) total wash out. We did, however, continue with the laying chickens (expensive) this summer.

    I also buy in bulk. Every other year, I buy dry goods from a wholesale foods store (mixed results in cost). Spices are purchased from the Indian food market (cheaper) once a year to every other year. Other spices are purchased from an herb farm (cheaper). I buy condiments dry goods, and fresh fish and vegetables from the Asian food market(mixed results in cost). More frequently, my shopping includes a wholesale "club" and Aldi's. We frequent a local grocery store once a week to round out the menu.

    We have found the quality of our food much improved, but budgeting is a mixed bag. As I have indicated above, some things are definitely cheaper, but other things are much more expensive. We all feel it is worth it. In fact, the married children, who live a distance, miss the quality of some of the food. I don't flinch at buying expensive cheese, but use it wisely and frugally.

    I try to have planned shopping trips making good use of my time and gasoline. I cook from scratch and make simple, but good home cooked meals.

    No Idle Hands

  15. Just a small comment, as I must get to sleep. I feel your frustration with dealing with non-English-speaking people with names like Bob. Ya, riiiiiiight. I guess they're trying to make it easier on us.

    Trying to get to a supervisor is another issue. I waited one time 20 minutes! I know, because I had a complaint (that I had spent many many minutes over three days and being bounced back and forth and back again) that she didn't want me to talk to the supervisor, so that long wait was planned.

    Well, enough ranting. As far as victory week, I am doing it but unoffically, as I didn't specifically buy for it or spend a certain amount. In fact, since means are a bit slim right now, we didn't buy at all! ;)

    Last night, I had boiled new potatoes, green beans, and celery sticks (which we didn't have because the little guys didn't come over) with peanut butter. For a refreshment before dinner, I made smoothies out of frozen bananas, strawberries, and peaches. So, we got all of our veggies and fruit in quite inexpensively.

    Happy frugal Tuesday everyone!

  16. No Idle Hands; sounds like we could learn a lot from you. You don't have a blog? Linda

  17. Great comments, yes Idle hands, blog? I am sort of in agreement with you about the chickens. As many of you know I keep (or kept, as I did finally give the last chickens to a friend after our move, but new chicks in spring!)chickens. With the cost of their feed per month, it was sometimes a wash, but I always had fresh eggs and they are so wonderful to cook with and to eat. I am going to attempt, this next spring with my chickens, to really try to feed them as much from the table as possible. One can stretch the purchased feed budget if you have enough scraps for them, the only problem, I tend to not have much in the way of leftovers. In the summer it is easy, as they love to forage and there is so much green weeds they can eat and garden surplus, I imagine in the warmer climates as florida and CA it must be cheaper to keep chickens.
    I would say initial response to my shopping in the beginning of 1955 was more about saving money. I have come to realize that part of community and personal life quality has lead me to the path of better NOT cheaper and if so LESS. We shall see how I fare at the end of this week, but I feel now, though chicken might be on sale for 1.00 a pound at stop and shop, the 3.99 a pound at the local grocer looks nicer and sometimes is from local sources. So, what does a budget minded homemaker do? Buy less. When there were no choices over cheaper you made do, now that we have been trained for generations to think "Must get the BARGAIN, Cheaper is better" it really is a retraining to realize, why not buy nicer quality not as often and learn to economize amounts. It really will lead to a better diet and even the amount of 'junk' families accumulate would be less. If your mixer costs you 100 dollars instead of 14 at walmart, you are gonna take care of it and not have twenty other gadgets! I know these seem simple realizations, but I do really feel my eyes have been opened!

  18. I really relate to your issues with your internet provider, but I had to laugh when you said it is better to deal with local companies. It may be better to deal with local companies but only when they have to compete for your dollar. Our local phone company has a protected service area here in Minnesota. That means they are the only company allowed to provide phone service. We are at the mercy of this company and frequently have to call and discuss surprising add ons to our bill. They also provide our internet as we don't have nor want cable service. (we don't watch tv) All this to say that buying local is great -provided that there is free market competition in place to protect the consumer. The same could be said for any industry with a single payer/ provider.


  19. Michele-of course, well said. I think I was more frustrated with the level of service needed for even a local company to manage something as complex as the internet etc. I was mostly frustrated that it was not as easy as going to the local dress shop, being treated poorly and then having the power to have them realize there are other local dress shops who could have my business and that they would like to be viewed positively in the local communities eyes. With companies, even your local provider, there is no need to look or be precieved as good or helpful within the confines of a community and I realize such a service cannot be held accountable, so it made me angry. we too do not have tv and I was cursing my own need for the interent. I actually considered getting rid of it and just using the local library connection for free, but it is a tough decision.

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