Taking out the Trash: Little Sam’s Club, Job Security and Paul’s Pantry

June 29, 2011 by
Filed under: Coupons, Grocery 

Time for another edition of Taking out the Trash, the semi-regular posts that usually have something to do with saving money but are not specific deals.  I have a lot on my mind so I’m cleaning out the “garbage” in my head by Taking out the Trash.  (And if you’ve ever noticed, they usually fall on Wednesdays which is garbage night at our house). :-)

I spent much of my afternoon in Not-So-Little-Sam’s Club, the basement stockpile that I’ve kept up for some time.  It was definitely time to donate!

For newer readers, you may not know the story of my stockpile.  About a year ago I organized it and wrote about it on my previous Facebook page.  The picture you see here was taken in June 2010.  I had just taken advantage of Big Lots moving from one location to another, so everything in their store was 50% off.  My sister saw the stockpile area in the basement and said it was like Sam’s Club.  And that’s how my slightly more than modest stockpile got it’s name.

Flash forward a few months and my husband suddenly lost his job–no two weeks notice, no severance, just done.  Because of the stockpile I had compiled, one of the few things we didn’t have to worry about was food.  Then, when talking to our case worker for unemployment benefits, she told me how much our family of six was eligible to get in food stamps each month.  I was shocked, I must have gasped.  The case worker started explaining to me that it would be reviewed in six months and if it turned out the amount allotted was too low…

I stopped her.  No, I said I was shocked because it was TWICE the amount I normally spent on groceries!

The first thing we did was to make an SUV-sized donation to Paul’s Pantry with many of the items pictured above.  Because I knew I was going to have to make room for more.

For those almost four months that my husband was out of work, I continued to shop the sales and match up coupons as I had always done.  And used up every single cent of the food stamps offered to me.  Let me tell you, it was exhausting!  After all, I wasn’t going to let it go to waste.  My sister’s husband had been out of work for 8-9 months, a friend, the same amount, another, more than two years without work. I did not know how long we would be without regular income, I did not know how long the benefits would last, but I was determined to be prepared and at least we wouldn’t have to worry about food.

And then my husband found a job.  Yay!

By March 2011, when the last of our food stamp money was burned up, Little Sam’s Club had become Not-So-Little Sam’s Club.  And I finally got it all organized again.  There it is:

I know, right?!  INSANE.  Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle, it even frightened me!  As much as I bust on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, there we were with all this STUFF.  Looking like crazy coupon hoarder lady!

We donated to Stamp out for Hunger and to my daughters’ school food drive, but we still held back a little, not donating nearly as much as we could have.  You see, I announced to my readers at Christmastime when my husband found a job in Milwaukee.  But what I didn’t tell you was that this spring, we feared he was going to lose his job again.   We later found out that had he not found another position shortly after his sixth sense kicked in, he would have!

Now at his newest job for two months and feeling much better about the job situation overall, we decided it was time to help out those who have been less fortunate than us.

But now it’s my turn to worry.

It’s a scary time in the work world.  There is no such thing as job security. Many of you have read or know that I work at WFRV, a place where I always felt at home; when I went back to work in December, the job wasn’t handed to me.  I had to interview twice, in fact.  Yet when I returned, even though it had been almost ten years since I had worked there and many of the faces were new to me, I was comfortable.   On Friday July 1st, the station will have new owners.  Cuts were made, including the jobs of my boss and 22 other people, some who have worked at the station since I was in grade school.  Suddenly they do not have a job.  Who knows what the future will bring for me and my colleagues?  Besides glorious HD newscasts (have you seen it?– truly amazing picture!  Hey, you either have to laugh or cry, right? And I choose laughter.)   I know that for most people, that fear of job security is in the back of your head at all times.

Many people shop with coupons and shop the sales to save money.  Many others are doing it because they literally have to or bills don’t get paid.  They are like most, working with the feeling that there is a target painted on their back.  Which is why I am a huge believer in creating small stockpile in the event of job loss.   We  are lucky in that our family has not yet had to face the worst scenario–what we went through was scary enough.  Despite the fact I would gladly wipe away the past year of our lives with all the job changes and job loss, insurance woes, health problems, loss of loved ones, etc., I know that we are still truly blessed.

I always talked about paying it forward and it’s true, I did, but I felt like I hadn’t done enough in recent months.

So with a basement stockpile busting at the seams, today I cleaned house, so-to-speak. I gave some stuff to my friend, a single mom. I have another small box of organic pantry items for my friend who tries to eat as organic as possible, I have a box of snacks to store at my mother’s house since she lost her job and is on a fixed income now.  She won’t have to worry about feeding her ravenous grandkids when they stop by for a visit.

And then I called Paul’s Pantry.  Turns out if you have enough stuff to donate, they’ll come pick it up.  Because even with my SUV which seats eight, I could not fit the bounty I am going to donate from Little Sam’s Club.  Which is finally Little again.

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