Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Volume 2, Number 10: Life in a One-Man Household

(Note: This is a re-posting of an entry I made in late February/early March 2007 on a Yahoo! GeoCities blog.)

Still not much has happened lately, although recently, Kroger had a Super Double Coupon deal where they doubled coupons up to $1 (instead of up to the usual 50 cents), so a $1 coupon would be doubled to $2. I bought $69.34 worth of food and stuff for $16.24. (That $69.34 figure reflects what it all would have cost IF I had bought it at regular price AND I didn't clip coupons like I always do.) My haul included two Hungry-Man dinners for 77 cents each (regularly $3.99 each, Kroger had them on sale for $1.77 each and I had a $1 coupon off 2), a Hershey's Cacao Reserve Bar for 29 cents (usually $2.29, but I had a $1 coupon), and a bottle of Maalox tablets for 19 cents (Kroger had marked it down to $2.19 and I had a $1 coupon).

In light of my recent haul, I've dug up this journal entry from November 10, 2005.

I'd like to tell you about how hard it is, living in a one-man household.

Don't get me wrong, it has its advantages. The A-#1 reason I chose this lifestyle is a mix of freedom and privacy. I can do what I want, go where I want, and buy what I think I need without people looking over my shoulder, needlessly asking questions or criticizing my decisions. (I do plenty of debating on most of these decisions as it is.) I can buy junk food without worrying about it being gone the next day, buy a used car without listening to some spiel about how leasing would be so much better, or have to put up with other people's problems when my own problems are more than enough for me to deal with.

I realize that had I taken in a roommate, I would have saved some money by splitting the utilities, and that's on top of saving a few hundred dollars in terms of getting rent. But between the trust issue and the aforementioned freedom and privacy, I have never considered taking in a roommate, even when times got rough.

Another disadvantage is that there's no one around to help with the household chores. I get back from work, and I'm too hungry to think about dinner and too tired to think about doing the laundry, cutting the grass or cleaning the bathroom. I've got a better understanding of why my parents asked my brothers and me to help around the house--not because they wanted us to learn the value of hard, honest work, but because they had already done enough hard work themselves, and were tired from it.

The one-man household means a risk of throwing away food. A fine example is spaghetti sauce. You can get the 26-ounce jar of such brands as Ragu and Hunt's for under a buck (sale priced, that is; I almost never buy ANYTHING at regular price). But unlike my older brother, I don't eat pasta every night. I wouldn't mind having it once a week, maybe twice. Any more than that, and sooner or later, I'll get bored with it. But that 26-ounce jar just won't hold out long enough. It starts to go bad after a few weeks. So every time I open a jar of spaghetti sauce, I have to use it quickly.

I cook a lot out of cans and boxes. Not because I can't cook, otherwise I wouldn't even do Hamburger Helper (75% of my Sunday dinners are some Betty Crocker Helper or another). It's because buying the ingredients for most "homemade" recipes can be horrendously expensive. Take spices and seasonings (oregano, parsley, and so on). Either you buy a little jar of some spice for $3 and only use it on one recipe, or spend that $3 on a couple of sale-priced Hungry-Man TV dinners. I like Option B a lot better. Sure, Option B may be chock full of preservatives, and may be missing the secret ingredient called "love," but it's not nearly as wasteful. I shelled out a few bucks for a little bottle of vanilla extract so I could make some granola bars from this jar Ma gave me that was filled with all the other ingredients, save the vanilla extract and the eggs. I used that vanilla extract once, and haven't used it since.

Corporate America hates the one-man household. More and more coupons require you to buy 2 or more of something to get the coupon discount. For example, my personal favorite was the "40 cents off a jar of Ragu" coupon. There would always be a time when someone--usually Meijer--would have that spaghetti sauce on sale for 99 cents, so with the coupon, it would be 19 cents. Now I consider myself lucky anytime I can get a jar for under 70 cents (after sale prices and coupons).

Now, I've been seeing more coupons for $1 off two of whatever when it used to be $1 off one. I understand why it's that way, but I'll tell you what, that's still another example of Corporate America trying to take money out of my pocket.

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