I really struggled with whether or not I should write a post dealing with our daily struggles with Covid-19 and how the coronavirus is affecting our lives and the financial impact it’s having on us.
So, here I am checking in on what’s going on in my life. Let’s stay connected!
First of all I’m fine. I’m not sick and I haven’t traveled internationally, nor have I been around anyone who has.
I have no idea if the people moving around me are sick or have been exposed during the times I’ve been inside grocery stores. Everywhere else, when I’m outside, I’m not that close to others.
Social distancing, people! No hand shaking. Try to stay six feet away from others.
I haven’t been to any Meet Up groups this year. Not so much out of fear of coronavirus as that I’ve had other things going on.
I’m walking my dogs and riding my horse. Life hasn’t changed too much for me.
Chance of catching coronavirus?
For me, I’d say chances are very low of coming down with Covid-19. I pretty much self-isolate all the time anyway! I’m single, no kids, I can’t afford to take multiple international vacations and don’t know anyone who does. I can’t afford to eat out. Aside from grocery stores, I’m just not in situations where I’m around many people.
Most people will not get sick, and those who do will have mild to moderate symptoms. What’s more scary are the people who don’t show any symptoms and are walking around spreading the virus.
That’s the big reason why so much of the country is shutting down and making businesses close for the short term until Covid-19 is under control.
I wash my hands a lot, always have. This is mostly due to the animals, and baking and food preparation. If I touch something other than kitchen utensils, I wash my hands and then handle the food items again. Same thing if I put something in the garbage – wash my hands. I’m not OCD, at least I don’t think I am, but if I’ve touched what I perceive to be a dirty surface, I’ll wash my hands before handling food or utensils.
As part of my daily life I keep hand sanitizer in my car. Yes, joys of owning dogs, going for walks and picking up dog shit! Never know the subject matter I might come in contact with so – just in case – I keep hand sanitizer in the car. These are small hand sanitizers that you can shove in your pocket or purse. The last time I bought hand sanitizer there must have been a twofer sale going on. I have the second one sitting under my sink, ready to get called into action.
I have a third hand sanitizer from when I attended a job fair last November. Many of the companies that had set up tables were giving away freebies. Glad I picked up one! It’s in my bag right now.
I have handy wipes in my car, mostly because I can get dirty when I’m at the farm. I think I’m running low on them, but haven’t been using them much lately. Good thing too. I doubt I’ll find them in any store right now.
Open for business?
People are getting hit financially due to businesses being forced to close. In British Columbia all bars have been shut down. Restaurants that can accommodate social distancing or sell take out or have a delivery service are allowed to operate.
Most of the ski resorts have shut down. Now, here’s where I’d think social distancing wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not like you stick close to others while flying down a snow covered mountain!
Cruise ships have been banned from docking in Canada until at least July 1. That hurts a lot of businesses that rely on cruise tourists. Vancouver is a huge jumping off port for Alaska cruises. This pretty much cancels any Alaska cruises leaving from Seattle. That’s because cruise ships are registered in foreign ports and can’t dock in ports in only one country. Ships have to include one foreign port. That solves the problem with Alaska cruises that start and stop in Vancouver. Cruises departing from Seattle stop in Victoria to comply with the international law.
I went in to Fruiticana, my local produce store, on Sunday morning, March 14, 2020.
It’s a smallish store. About half the store has bins with fruits and vegetables. Lining the walls are canned goods – soup, beans, juice, and condiments you can buy in larger grocery stores. They have a few cases of frozen groceries, like the kind you’d see in other grocery stores, takes about 20 feet or so along the back wall. There is also a refrigerated section, upright fridges with the glass doors. It’s against the wall closest to the cash registers.
I wanted bananas, and there were about 12 bunches in the bin. This is where I buy my spinach and mini carrots. All good. I’ve been thinking about making pizza, so I chose a couple of tomatoes. Uh oh, no mushrooms. However, even in normal times they’re kind of hit and miss on having mushrooms available. Grabbed a ten pound bag of Russet potatoes on sale for $2.99.
Gaps I noticed? Two shelving units empty in the dry goods section. Maybe they had toilet paper and paper towels on there? I don’t know, I haven’t noticed them in there before!
Also the bins for ginger root and chili peppers were empty. Good thing I wasn’t planning to buy them!
I went into the aisle with beans and spices and it was well stocked Happy dance when I spotted a two pound bag of pinto beans! Product of Mexico, kind of unusual in an ethnic store that caters more to Asians, mostly East Indians. Anyway I grabbed it. Over to the dairy case to get tofu, which is about 30¢ cheaper than the larger grocery stores that sell the same brand.
Inbetween me and the cash register is a table with some dry goods. I buy Texana brown rice at another produce store, but I spotted it on that table. That hit my shopping basket too.
All that for under $20!
I’ve made this recommendation before, but in these days when the big grocery stores are getting cleared out by stockpilers and hoarders – don’t forget about these little produce stores!
You know the one. You’ve driven by it hundreds of times.
These little guys are buying from the same produce wholesalers. Their overhead is cheaper so they can keep prices down. Often they’re family run and are committed to meeting customer needs.
Save On Foods online shopping
Generally speaking, Save On Foods has become that place where I run into when I just need a couple of things.
I live in a small mobile and don’t really have extra room to stock up on things.
Around 11:30 Sunday night I log on to the Save On Foods online shopping website. The first thing that greets me is a message about issues due to the increase in web traffic, but to keep trying. No problem that late at night.
I chose the Cloverdale locations and checked toilet paper and paper towels. They have them. Or at least the web page doesn’t say out of stock. Charmin is on sale, so I decide to place an order for pick up. No charge to pick up at the store, or Save On Foods charges a small fee to deliver groceries to your house.
The bad thing is Save On Foods wants you to buy a minimum of $40 OK, I can do this. Luckily, I need condensed milk to make more granola bars. A container of Krema Greek vanilla yogurt is added. I don’t remember what all I placed in the shopping cart, but 8 items got me over $40.
Now to choose a pick up time. Save On Foods is “sold out” of pick up times until Thursday! Four days away! Now that wouldn’t be so bad because I didn’t urgently need these products, but I get an alert telling me the sale is over for just about everything I ordered and I’ll be charged the regular price when I pick up on Thursday.
Yeah, thanks Save On Foods. I deleted the order and decided to head into the store on Monday morning.
Save On Foods in person
I arrived at the Cloverdale Save On Foods just before 9am on Monday morning, March 16, 2020. The plan was to go to London Drugs afterward, which is in the same strip mall.
I saw a couple of people leaving the store holding big packages of Purex toilet paper. That’s got to be a good sign!
Inside the store there were two skids holding big boxes of Purex toilet paper. The boxes hadn’t been opened yet, though someone with strong hands could take care of that in seconds. I headed to the aisle for toilet paper and paper towels.
So much for the online inventory being accurate!
At the end of the aisle was another skid holding boxes of Purex toilet paper. There was one open box with a few packages inside, so I grabbed one. The packages are 20 rolls, the large rolls, three times a regular roll size.
There were tons of people inside the store. I think only two cash registers open, maybe three. Line ups with shopping carts snaked all over the place.
I got my yogurt, but I never did find the condensed milk. Picked up two cans of pumpkin that I knew from the online experience the night before were on sale, two for $7. Got to have some on hand for my chocolate chip pumpkin muffins!
Then I headed to the self check out. There was one lady in line in front of me waiting for a cash register to open up. Save On Foods has six check outs but one was not working. The other five had people that took a long time. Seriously! It took five minutes for one to open up so the lady in front of me could buy her stuff. By now the line behind me has grown. After a couple more minutes, a cash register opened up for me.
The staff was doing a great job disinfecting and wiping down surfaces and keypads.
It kind of feels like I won the lottery! In more ways than one. Purex was on sale! Regular price $21.99, sale price $12.97 as long as you had a Save On More card. I’d have probably bought it anyway over the Charmin (if they’d had any!) for that price.
I headed into London Drugs after I left Save On Foods. A manager was on the news the day before saying they’re limiting customers to how many paper products they can buy.
Whatever. They had no toilet paper or paper towels on the shelves.
It’s kind of like a sick obsession to go check it out now!
The brand of water I like was on sale for $3.99 – that’s a 24 pack of Nestle pure life water. It’s very important when buying that brand to make sure it comes from the springs in Hope or Othello, British Columbia and not the one bottled in Ontario. You can tell the difference in the taste. I always buy a case when I see it’s priced under $4, which still came to over $7 once the deposit, environment fees and taxes were all added in. Seeing as how I only had six bottles left at home, I needed to buy more. We have well water at home. It has that ground taste and smell that I’m not keen on.
The Walmart I usually shop at is in South Surrey, BC in an area called Grandview Corners. It has underground parking – perfect when I have dogs with me.
The first thing that surprised me is that Walmart has removed the hand sanitizer stations. The brackets where the sanitizers formerly sat in are there, but no sanitizer.
Maybe they’re out of stock? Ha ha!
I stopped by the pharmacy to see if they have Equate iron supplements in the dosage I need. Sometimes they’re out – for months – and other brands are higher priced. They’re kept behind the counter, and I stood in line behind one lady who took FOREVER.
While standing there I saw a sign that said they were out of hand sanitizers, face masks, and rubbing alcohol. Something else too I don’t remember, maybe surgical gloves. I could see part of the aisle where the cold and cough medicines are kept and the shelves were empty.
Just for fun I stopped by the aisle where the toilet paper and paper towels are kept because I saw a sign when I came inside Walmart that said only one package per person.
Here’s the photo I took of the paper aisle. That sign on the right says one package of paper towels per family.
I went to the baking aisle to get condensed milk for the next time I make granola bars. It was wiped out. No flour, sugar, or any baking supplies including cans of condensed milk. Not even evaporated milk! Ha ha! Actually I have one of those in my cupboard. The only thing on the shelf were a few cans of pie filling and at the far end some spices.
Here’s a photo I took of the meat department. Good thing I’m a vegetarian!
How about the pasta aisle?
I needed some Febreze, both air freshener and fabric freshener. Here’s the aisle for cleaning supplies where Febreze is normally found.
There are garbage bags and sponges on the right side of the aisle.
I got Mayonnaise which is one of the things on my list. The only brand available was Hellman’s, but that was fine with me. Somehow I don’t think that’s because all the other shoppers dislike Hellman’s as much as that must have been recently restocked. Things like condiments and cooking oils weren’t in stock. Fortunately, I’m good on those items in the house, buying what I needed earlier this year as just part of normal shopping.
I also got the nut milk I drink, though there was only two cashew milks left. The frozen vegetables I wanted – Walmart brand of mixed and their brand of corn in the larger bags – hit my cart. Even though I didn’t see peas, I didn’t look too hard because of the social distancing thing. It was time for me to skedaddle.
What was really annoying were two woman standing there looking at the well picked over freezer aisle and kind of blocking the door. I moved in, opened the door, grabbed the two bags I wanted, tossed in my cart and moved on. Probably totally violating the social distancing thing! Likewise, another shopper was right behind me grabbing the same frozen vegetables. I think we spurned the two woman blocking the door into action.
You snooze, you lose!
When I got to the cash register, I saw a sign that says only one carton of eggs per customer. I didn’t buy eggs, nor did I think to walk down the refrigerated case to check out the stock on eggs or dairy milk.
If you’re buying eggs, you can probably find them at those ethnic produce stores.
The place where I buy my horse feed sells eggs. If you have a feed store in town, stop by and ask. If they don’t sell from the store, you can be pretty sure they sell chicken feed to local farmers and might have some intel on where you can buy farm fresh eggs.
Try a Google search for your city plus the words “egg grading station”. Some egg grading staions sell eggs retail to the public. Likewise the farms that supply eggs to the egg grading station, but most have to do it on the quiet side due to health regulations.
I buy eggs from Monika’s wildlife shelter, that’s about two miles from where I live, so I feel like I’m contributing a little bit to help the shelter. They don’t have a sign on the street advertising egg sales, so it’s pretty much word of mouth. You can try driving down a rural area in your neck of the woods and see if you can spot any farms selling eggs. Make sure you have cash on you.
Medical supply tips
Sorry, I have no idea where you can buy face masks and surgical gloves.
If you’ve checked grocery stores, drugs stores, dollar stores, and Amazon for rubbing alcohol without success, try horse supply stores. Also known as tack stores. Horse people use isopropyl alcohol aka rubbing alcohol when we have lame horses. Most tack stores carry a small supply of them. The thing is, most horse owners know this and may have already beat you to the punch!
I have a small amount of rubbing alcohol left at the barn. A couple of months ago I bought another one to have on hand and it’s in my bathroom, ready for action.
Legitimately have a cough or cold? Try a health food store or vitamin supply shop.
There’s a product made by Purica called Prevail for colds, cough, fever, and sore throats. (I’m not an affiliate, just tossing out suggestions.) There’s an online heath store called Vitamart that operates from Edmonton, Alberta that also stocks Prevail. (Again, not an associate. I shop there a lot, so just a recommendation.) Right now Vitamart is out of stock, but they have a button you can click to be notified by email when they’re back in stock. I’d recommend acting fast when you get that email!
Vitamart also sells hand sanitizers. Just do a search on their website, they have a few choices. They had stock two days ago, but out today. Again, you can click the button to be notified when there’s stock.
If you can’t find sanitizers anywhere, you can make your own. Check YouTube for instructions. Unfortunately, most of these DIY sanitizers need isopropyl alcohol and paper towels – which you’re probably also struggling to find!
Check out Alaska Granny if DIY sanitizers are something you’d consider.
Let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all when it comes to online shopping.
Following with my obsession with checking who has and has not toilet paper, I’ve been checking Amazon from time to time. Sometimes they have it, sometimes not. Just keep checking.
I bought three cans of coconut condensed milk last night, so I’ll be about ready to make more granola bars by the time they arrive!
However, Amazon recently announced it’s temporarily suspended receiving all products in their warehouses except shipments of household staples and medical supplies. If you’re buying what Amazon perceives as “non-essential” items, they might run out of stock.
This might suck for me and the bag of dog food and makeup that I receive on a subscription service.
I strongly recommend you do NOT buy anything from Walmart on their website, especially if you’re in Canada. They’re a bunch of screw ups and trying to contact customer service is impossible. Click here to read about the worst customer service EVER at Walmart and read comments left by many others with Walmart horror stories from ordering online.
Closed for business
In British Columbia a state of emergency was declared on March 18, 2020.
A couple of days earlier bars were ordered closed and restaurants that can’t accommodate social distancing are closed for table service but can still operate delivery and take out.
Great Clips haircuts are all closed.
Schools are closed.
Racetracks and casinos closed.
And so many more.
All to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Some of this will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
This is devastating to so many people who have rent, mortgage and bills to pay. Some workers will be able to collect employment insurance.
Others, contract workers and self employed are pretty much screwed. Especially if they don’t have emergency funds to help them through tough times.
Income is not looking good for me.
Since last summer I’ve been unemployed, with occasional cash gigs.
One of them was visiting a senior man in his care facility. Sadly, he just passed away. Not from the virus! He had a history of heart attacks and his heart just gave out. Devastating for the family and that’s the primary concern here, not my lack of income from a side hustle.
The good news is that I recently was hired on as a contract worker driving pick up trucks. Good money for a fairly easy job. I’m very confident driving pick up trucks, starting at age 16 when my parents owned a crew cab GMC. That truck was the third family vehicle, which meant it was pretty much mine to drive because my parents had their own cars to drive.
Where am I driving all these pick up trucks?
Mostly from one compound to another, about 15 miles apart.
The company I work for buys pick up trucks, mostly in Alberta and has them shipped to Surrey, BC. From Surrey, they hire drivers like me to drive to the compound 15 miles away – in Ferndale, Washington.
Who sees the problem? On March 18, 2020 Canada and the USA have closed the border for non-essential travel. Commercial traffic is still open.
We cross these pick up trucks in the commercial border crossing because they’re being imported into the states and paperwork must be stamped.
In addition to driving the pick ups that are left in Washington, there is also a chase driver who’s driving another truck and picks up the drivers from Ferndale and drives them back to BC.
In case you’re wondering, from Ferndale auto haulers transport these pick up trucks to dealership in the states. Who’d have known people in Arizona or Texas or wherever would have a big demand for used pick up trucks from Alberta!
It’s on call work and I’ve only had three shifts. Looks like things could be slowing down. Although we cross commercial, we’re not transporting essential goods.
Occasionally there are longer drives to Seattle and Astoria, Oregon. I’m scheduled to drive to Longview, Washington (southern Washington on the Columbia River) on Friday, March 20. I can use the money so I hope it goes ahead, but things can change in an instant at the border.
I don’t consider the United States as international travel.
I’m not in contact with anyone while I’m in Washington. Not shopping or dining. I drive the truck down, get in the chaser vehicle, and come back to Canada.
Besides coworkers, the only people I have contact with are the border guards. Even that is not real close contact. Very, very low risk of contracting Covid-19 from driving back and forth.
Last week the border crossings were minimal. Minutes. Unheard of for spring break. Especially last Friday. Normally on Fridays it’s at least half an hour wait in the line up. I was driving the chase vehicle, going through the car crossing, not commercial.
I didn’t really do anything to prepare for the effects of coronavirus when it comes to stockpiling food, other than keep on doing what I’ve always been doing. Much of that I’ve shared in blog posts.
On February 15, 2020, I wrote about stocking up on soup, and I really hope most of you read that post and followed the advice! One month later, there’s not a can of soup to be had in the stores!
A few days after I published the stock up on soup post, I was in Walmart’s soup aisle and spotted a 12-pack of their Great Value ramen noodles in the vegetable flavor. I don’t normally buy instant noodles, but something was telling me to grab it. I’m sure glad I listened to that little voice!
In some of my other posts I’ve also recommended stocking up on groceries you use a lot of, and keep them in the freezer. That’s where my flour, butter, oatmeal, powdered milk, yeast, Bisquick, cornmeal and other baking ingredients live. I also freeze a lot of my baking so I’ve got a decent supply of cookies, muffins, and granola bars in the freezer right now.
I also inadvertently got ahold of a face mask last week when I visited a senior’s home, about a day before they asked visitors to stay away. Hanging on to that baby! I have a few surgical rubber gloves in my possession, too. I use them when cleaning out my horse’s sheath. Not a fun job.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this funny story called a humorous slant on a messy chore.
I dunno. Even when wearing those gloves my fingers still end up smelling like smegma!
Filling my days
Here’s my view on Wednesday morning, March 18. You can see my shadow!
I’m spending time with my horse, my dogs, reading, writing this blog, going for walks, watching TV, listening to podcasts, and looking for more side gigs and ways to make money.
I’m avoiding looking at my stock portfolio but I was in there yesterday to transfer out the past month’s dividends and to print off tax forms. I’m down around 25% of my original investment.
What am I doing about it? Nothing. I’m staying the course. Set it and forget it. I don’t make money, or lose money, until it comes time to sell.
Historically, stocks always go back up again.
My financial plan these days goes something like this:
- Incur no debt
- Don’t look at the current value of my investments
- Don’t sell any stocks
- No unnecessary spending
Before I go
I know this has been a longer than usual post. Thanks for hanging in there!
I’ve mentioned before I follow David Bach, author of the Finish Rich series of books. I read his last book, The Latte Factor a few months ago, and recommend it. I espeically recommend it if you can borrow it from your library – if you can find one open these days! If not, you can pick it up on Amazon. (Disclosure: I’m an Amazon associate. If you click the link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
He’s living in Italy right now – fun times! Have a listen to his podcast called “This Too Will Pass“. You can listen to it right on your computer if you don’t have a mobile device with a podcasting feature.
Listen to the advice of health officials. Hang in there. Stay safe and healthy! And spend time outdoors if you can.
All by best, Cheryl