I’m talking financial changes today.  We’ll save those hormonal, weather, tv and other such changes for another day.

Ann Kroeker asked this morning, over on her blog, “What changes, if any, have you made as a result of this global financial upheaval?” 

I decided to answer this as it’s one I’ve intended on addressing here for awhile now.  We have made changes around the Runningamuck household.  I’ve always coupon shopped and taken advantage of great sales.  But I’ve stepped it up a notch or five. 

We finally have a chest freezer so that I can really take advantage of great grocery sales. 

I also purchased Ziploc‘s new Vacuum Freezer System.  I had held off purchasing anything like this for quite awhile because I just didn’t want to have to spend more money (for the bags) when the goal was to save money.  However, a few regular freezer bags of freezer-burned sale meat forced me to try Ziploc’s version.  It’s the cheaper than Reynold’s version (I think the pump was only $4.99 and it came with four or five quart-sized bags).  And I have to admit, I love it.  It’s relatively cheap because I stock up on the bags when they are on sale and I have coupons.  I purchased a bunch of roasts about a month ago when Ralphs had a buy one roast get one free deal and so far, they are looking MIGHTY FINE in my freezer!!  I’ve also bought a huge pork loin that I cut into 3 large roasts and they are doing just as well in my freezer.  I highly recommend the product.  It’s makes me smile every time I open my freezer to see it stocked with burn-free meat!

I am collecting large Tupperware containers to store sugar and flour.  It’s so much cheaper when you buy it in bulk.  Can’t beat 25 cents a pound for flour!  And it’s projected to get sooo much higher.

A friend of mine from Church started a food distribution thingy during the summer that I’ve taken part in almost every week.  Can you tell I’m having a hard time knowing what to call it?  What happens is a few people take their vans/trucks to three different food distribution centers, load up and bring it all back to the Church.  We unload everything and mark how much of each item people can take.  Anyone who wants to participate chips in $20 and then goes “shopping”.  I come home with about $100 of food every time.  Sometimes more depending on what they are able to find.  In a word? AWESOME!  Lots of cereal, crackers, bread, eggs, CVS brand allergy and cold meds and even cleaning supplies!  It really helps extend those grocery dollars.  It’s also a ministry as there are always some folks who don’t have the $20 to contribute but they are never turned away.  You just have to be willing to push the line on expiration dates and be ready to use the produce within the next few days after pick up.  Another nice part of this is we get a lot of Organic food items.  Apparently they don’t do as well in the grocery stores as everyone might think. =0)

I have a veggie garden!  I started one last year just for fun.  This year I had a little more purpose in mind.  The summer veggies have been a great addition and I’ve planted fall veggies for the first time.  We are eagerly awaiting bush beans, sugar-snap peas, zucchini (or summer plant had to be replaced), broccoli while still enjoying our summer bell peppers plants that are still producing and an abundance of fresh basil, thyme, sage and chives.  I’m already planning next years garden.  My goal is to not have to buy grocery store veggies next year.  Now, if only fruit trees could be planted and produce fruit all in one year.  Darn!

As a couple, Hubby and I don’t go out on dates as much.  If we do, it usually is a group date with four extra little people.  We just don’t have the money to pay for even a cheap date AND a sitter.  It’s cheaper to take advantage of those “Kids Eat Free” nights at certain restaurants where we can feed them for free and not have to pay for a sitter.  We still get out on our own maybe once a month or so which is nothing to complain about.  I try to jump on www.restaurant.com when they run their additional 60% off the purchase price.  They just had one (I’m not sure if it’s still running or not) and I purchased four $25 local restaurant gift certificates (Citrus Grill being one and Ye Auld Dubliner is the other) for only $16!  And they have no expiration date.  The only requirement is we have to purchase $35 worth of food in order to use the $25 gift certificate.  So for $35 worth of food, we only pay $14 (plus tip, DON’T forget to tip the total bill, not your discounted amount!! Pet peeve).  If you want to try out their site, the coupon code was present. See if it still works.

It hasn’t turned very cool here yet but when it does, Hubby and I have always set our thermastat at 55 degrees at night.  Well, not whenever we had a baby but when the kids are big enough to be bundled up and keep their body temps up the thermostat goes down, lol.  Last year we weren’t able to since Lil Blue was a baby but now that he’s two the temp will go back down.  It helps save on energy costs which annually seem to get higher and higher.

Even though gas prices are going back down, Hubby and I are keeping up with the practice of wise driving.  We try to save up errands until we can do a bunch at a time and make a circular route to save on gas.  We also keep our longer trips to a minimum… non-existent if possible.  So alas, there haven’t been as many trips to the zoo this year. 

There you have it.  The Runningamuck World changes.  If you’d like to chime in with your own, either post a comment here or write a post on your blog and link up with Ann’s

We can all learn from each other.