Category Archives: Community

How To Save 50% On Grocery Expenses

The opportunity to save literally hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year on your grocery costs can be accomplished through the power of community. The amount that you can save is only limited to the strategic relationships that you can develop and maintain. So what is the secret handshake that you have to know in order to take advantage of these great savings? Well the first step is just a simple handshake that transitions to…ok so I am just kidding about the handshake.

The key to saving this magical 50% figure on your grocery bill is to talk to your family, friends, neighbors, and community members. Sharing resources such as warehouse store memberships or access to a restaurant supply store will allow those in your inner circle to maximize the amount that can be saved without incurring the exorbitant cost of spending the money to gain access to all of these different stores. I will say that while I can think of hundreds of times that I have saved tons of money at these stores, if you don’t know what the local prices are in your area you can greatly overpay as well. Many of the box stores will sell items at a loss to earn your business on other items where most of the discount stores operate on set margins and will not always have the best price on certain items. The following four options offer the greatest opportunity for savings.

Warehouse Stores – Sam’s Club and Costco can be a great resource for food as well as many other items. Not only is there an opportunity to pick up items at a reduced cost but these are places that you can get items in large quantities as well. To get into warehouse stores there is an annual membership fee that must be paid. Some individuals have these memberships but some also have these memberships for their businesses which not only allows for the savings but the membership cost can be covered as a business expense. In addition to food items, I like to pick up clothing and other seasonal type items at these type of stores because towards the end of the season you can save a ton of money. Right now there are coats that sell for $100 new that are on clearance for $10 at our Sam’s Club. It is still snowing outside! Take advantage of the savings people and shop at the end of the season for next year.

Restaurant Supply Stores – There are some restaurant supply stores that are open to the public but it seems that the true stores that supply restaurants are not open to the public and knowing someone in the food industry can help you gain access to these stores. This does not mean that you have to be best friends with the owner of the local buffet. If you know someone who has a coffee shop that could be your way in. You can always check with the store and see what their policies are as well. Some may let you in if you are shopping for the high school concession stand or for your organizations fundraiser. It never hurts to ask. Of course there is always the option of starting up a hotdog cart so that you can take advantage of this opportunity!

Military Commissaries – If you live in a community that has a military installation, there is a good chance that there is a commissary there. For those that may not be familiar with military jargon, a commissary is a grocery store. You will find just about everything there that you can find at your local Kroger, Albertson’s, Safeway, or other local grocery store. Now military commissaries are not open to the public so unless you are a member of a military family you will have to know someone who is. This is where the community connections come in. So what if you do not live in a military community? Well, military retirees are entitled to commissary privileges and many will travel to the nearest military base at periodic intervals to stock up on items. If you know a retiree then you may be able to tag along and take advantage of some of the savings that are available at the military commissaries!

LDS Canneries – I am not a subject matter expert on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faith or the services that are offered through the LDS canneries but I do know that there are many bulk foods that are offered for sale. From what I have seen on the internet it seems as though the restrictions on who can use the cannery depends on the local rules. If you know a member of the LDS church this is probably the best way to obtain access to your local cannery. The bulk foods available through the LDS cannery are prepackaged as well as cannable by the consumer and fall into the short and long-term storage food categories.

Anyone know how to increase these savings even more? You guessed it…coupons! Obviously coupons cannot be used in every situation but if the chance to use them is there then by all means take advantage of it. I have saved most of my money shopping at the military commissary where I can say that I have saved a ton of money. With coupons that amount has increased even more. One example that I can think of is a coupon that came out in the Sunday paper and was for $1.00 off of an Oral-B dental floss. The commissary has the dental floss for $0.95 and after taking the $1.00 off for the coupon I had a credit of $0.05 plus a roll of free dental floss! Not a bad deal at all.

The bottom line is that through family and community relationships you have the opportunity to greatly stretch your grocery dollars. There is nothing to lose other than your hard-earned money.

If you can think of any other great ways to save on the grocery budget, chime in and share them with the other Ninja’s in the community!

Being Prepared Is a Team Sport

FamilyBeing prepared for any level of disaster or emergency is definitely something that should be a family, group,or team effort. This point was driven home to me as I was sick over the Christmas holiday. I had nothing left in me and if something had happened I would have been worthless. It is safe to say that I was actually a liability in my state and would have taken away from any efforts instead of helping. So what does this mean from a preparedness perspective for you?

1. GET YOUR FAMILY, GROUP, OR TEAM ON BOARD

In my family I am the primary prepper and until recently my wife has not really been all that thrilled with much of the ideas and practices of prepping. In fact it would be fair to say that she is not entirely on board. She is more like a person that is being towed in a boat behind mine, but at least she is not frantically rowing in the opposite direction!  So how do you get others on board with preparedness planning?  There is certainly no one answer to this question but from my experience the best approach to take is to be open and honest and help those who are important to you see how preparedness matters so much to you, your family, and inner circle.  If you are truly important to your family, friends, and community members then they will seriously consider what you have to say.

If you are a lone wolf type then seriously consider finding some like-minded people who are in close proximity to you so that if there is an emergency or disaster situation you are not forced to go at it alone.

2. DETERMINE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Each person in the group should have a primary and secondary responsibility when possible. If your group is two people then the situation may dictate otherwise but in a normal family size unit of 2 adults and 2.5 children this should be feasible and if you are part of a larger group of families then this is definitely doable. In fact in these larger groups, once primary and secondary roles have been mastered then the group should work on cross training in each other’s roles as well as taking on the responsibility of learning new skills.

Examples of potential individual roles/responsibilities include:

-Security
-Power
-Water
-Food
-Medical
-Communications
-Maintenance

This is of course not an all-inclusive list.  It does cover some of the major areas and systems of support that are an area of concern.  What roles need to be assumed will of course depend on the capabilities and systems that are available to your group.

3. DISCUSS WHAT TO DO IF SOMETHING DOES GO WRONG

If my role within the group is to be in charge of the generator and emergency power systems and I am ill then what will the group do? These types of situations need to be discussed and alternate plans need to be made to address such problems. This is where secondary responsibilities and cross training come into play. The subject matter expert in each area will assist the group by taking on an apprentice to teach their craft to.  If the size of your family/group makes taking on every responsibility that may need to be taken on then this is where strategic partnerships and community building comes into play.  No one person can do everything and sometimes it is better to rely on a trustworthy member of your community or inner circle than to try to be the jack of all trades.  A prime example that I can think of is knowing how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw is a valuable skill to have but is not on the same level as trying to remove a tree that has fallen on top of your garage.  Taking on this task without the specialized skill necessary could easily wind up getting someone seriously injured or even killed.

4. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT…

As roles are determined then update the group documentation.  This is a great way to get your survival documentation updated and not put the burden all on one person.  Each person takes a folder, binder, journal, or whatever and compiles all the information that they can about their responsibilities and how it fits into the group.  This binder should include manuals/operator guides for any pertinent equipment, standard operating procedures, decision points for bugging out or other key events, expansion plans and ways to deal with changes in group size or locations, etc. 

There is certainly much more that goes into making sure that your family or group is prepared to appropriately react to an emergency or disaster but hopefully this serves as grease to help get the wheels turning.  The team approach is a must in my opinion and certainly relieves the burden of preparing on the group leader or head of household.