on paying someone else to buy your groceries
March 27, 2010, 7:55 am
Filed under: advice, financial | Tags: , , , , ,

Hello Ask Spoonah,

My question has to do with personal grocery shopping services. Our local grocery store is now offering this service, for either a $5 fee or free if you spend a certain amount. With crazy schedules and what feels like no time, this seems like a great deal. If you don’t meet the minimum though is it really worth spending the $5 to save the time?

Thought this might be something you might have thoughts about.

-curious in western mass

dear curious,

I often think about things like this. generally my answer comes down to when I am about to do something I could pay someone else to do (i.e. grocery shopping, laundry, etc.), I ask myself, “would I pay $5 to not have to do this right now?” if the answer is yes, well then, there you go.

these services are helpful for two groups of people: the busy, and the lazy. I guess for a third as well: the lazy busy people. I usually fall somewhere between the busy and the lazy busy. I also am generally way busier than most people, and at other times in my life I would not use services like this (because doing so would be simply assuaging my lazy self and I actually have time to do it). currently, however, I use them whenever possible. I have a friend do my laundry for me (it’s cheaper than doing it myself and it takes no time) and I like to do online grocery shopping/delivery (if only whole foods did this, I’d really be in trouble).

if you’re still not sure, I’d ask yourself this. figure out the total of your order, and figure out what percent of it $5 is. then ask yourself if you’d be willing to pay that percentage more for the same products. another way to think of it is think about what else you could do with $5. if that is going to make a difference for you in another area, then don’t spend it here. personally I’m at a point in my life where $5 is generally worth the convenience and time savings (I’m much more strapped for time than money), but there was definitely a point in my not-too-distant-past where $5 was enough money that I wouldn’t dream of spending it on something so frivolous. but that’s a question only you can answer. think about how much money your time is worth. personally, mine is usually worth the fee.

happy shopping!


on how to quit your stupid job
March 22, 2010, 6:39 pm
Filed under: advice, career | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear Spoonah,

I have never had to quit a job before and want to know the proper etiquette. I have tried everything to make it work and have reached my last wit. I have started losing sleep, and praying for an illness just not to go in! I have had problems with my boss for a while and when I confront her it’s like talking to a brick wall and I’m told “I never said that or you’re just being over dramatic…” I no longer want to go there and I feel that the only way to keep my sanity is to leave. I don’t want to burn any bridges (even though I never will return) and want to leave on good terms if possible. Any advice would be excellent!


Sick & Tired In Maine!

dear sick & tired,

first allow me to say that you have the right attitude about this. leaving on good terms, while really difficult to do when you’re so fed up, is really important. if you leave on good terms you can use that person for references in the future, and just generally it will feel better to be nice, if you can.

the other thing that is really important in leaving a position (that you didn’t mention here) is to have something else lined up before you leave. I don’t know if that’s something you’re working on as well, but (especially in today’s economy) I can’t really stress it enough. if you’re not sure what you want to do, check out my previous post, on what you should be, now that you’re all grown up. even if you hate it there, quitting without another job lined up is almost without question a terrible idea. it will take probably a good several months to a year to find another one (no joke) and unless you quit because of a really good reason (i.e. you have filed a claim with the Department of Labor that it is a hostile work environment) you will not be eligible for unemployment. line up that new job first. I can’t stress that enough.

but to get to your question—how do you keep yourself from blowing up and just quitting when your job is terrible? how do you stay nice when you are leaving due to real problems in the job?

the first issue here is that while you’re looking for a new job, you may have to stay at this job for a while. so in the meantime, how do you keep your cool? I’d suggest trying to find things about the job that make it somewhat bearable. perhaps things used to be better and you can remember those things. or maybe you have great co-workers that you can enjoy this time with before you’re done. this might be a good time to think about the aspects of your job that you do enjoy (and what you don’t) so that you can be sure to find a job next time that works better for you. if there isn’t anything about your current job that puts even a little smile on your face, I’d suggest daydreaming about what it’s going to be like when you don’t work there anymore.

the other side of this is the actual quitting. depending on how much and how often you’ve talked to your boss about problems you’ve had before, it may not be much of a surprise to her that you are leaving. important: wait until you have a new job lined up before you tell her you’re quitting. you want to be able to give her a firm date that will be your last, and to have strong ground to stand on if she tries to get you to stay. when you do get to that point, I’d suggest writing down what you want to say ahead of time. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering my points when I get flustered (such as when, say, I’m quitting a job that I hate and that makes me upset to think about). write down the date you’re leaving, and be prepared for her to ask why you are leaving. she may not ask–again it may not come as much of a surprise–but be prepared if she does. I would not advise telling her “this place makes me crazy”, which is something I’ve told bosses before when quitting places I hated. it didn’t go that well. you might say something like “I have been offered a position that I think better suits where I am in my life right now”, or “I no longer feel that [insert name of your company] is the right fit for me.” if you can muster it, I’d let her know too that you have enjoyed working there (whether true or not). you probably already know this, but it is appropriate to give at least two weeks notice (or whatever is specified in your company’s HR policies, if any). when you’re ready, make an appointment to speak with her in person, and tell her (simply, firmly) that you have decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

the next thing you will probably have to do is submit a formal resignation letter. this is usually for HR purposes, and should include your name, the date of your last day, and the fact that you intend to stop work on that date. this letter should be professional and polished, but generally contain no more information than the fact that you are leaving and when. here are some guidelines for writing a resignation letter and some sample ones.

finally, the most important things to remember are to be polite and firm. keep your real feelings about the job and your boss to yourself. do not brag about your great new job. thank her for the time with the company. say goodbye to everyone when you leave. and hopefully, if you find a great new job, you’ll never have to quit a job again!

on how to cook some damn tasty bread in a crock pot
March 18, 2010, 2:10 pm
Filed under: advice, cooking | Tags: , , , , ,

dear spoonah,

can you tell me how to cook bread in a crock pot?

-broken ticker

dear broken ticker,

why, of course I can. spoonah is an international expert on all things ever (and an excellent googler), remember?

the first thing you need in order to cook bread in a crock pot is: a crock pot. in fact, the results of my investigations indicated that crock pot baking is pretty simple. you make dough as per usual, using whatever recipe you usually do. for a mold while the dough is rising, use a round, similar sized pan (such as a spring-form cake pan) that you can get it out of to put in the pot.

there are just a few tricks that are different from regular baking. the main thing is you want to lift the dough off the bottom of the pot while baking, and put a little water underneath so it acts like a steam-injection oven (!). put dough in a deep glass or metal bowl, or a big coffee can. put a trivet, baking rack, or even some crunched up tin foil in the bottom of the pot, and then about a half-cup of water. cover the bowl/can with a few layers of paper towels or a dishcloth, and then you’ll want to keep the lid on the crockpot as much as possible to avoid letting too much steam out while it cooks. only open up to check for done-ness. other than that, just use normal baking tips (don’t fill too high or you’ll end up with no room for expansion, etc.). cook on high until done (approx 3 hours)

If you want to use a recipe designed just for the crock pot, there are lots out there. here is the one that looked the best.

Couldn’t Be Easier Slow Cooker Bread

happy baking!