Monday, March 02, 2009

A little more

All this for $60!!

I guess I left people hanging last week with my post about our weekly food budget because I received a plethora of comments/emails asking about the way that our family saves money.

So here are a few of the ways that we save. Disclaimer: I am NO expert!! There are many many bloggers out there who are much better at this, but I do it shopping with two small (and crazy) kids and limited time:

  • Join Vocalpoint- easy and free to sign up, I get a mailer from Vocalpoint 1-2 times a month. Sometimes they include dumb things I don't care about (like a magnet for my fridge), but most of the time I receive samples (I got a Venus razor in December) or fabulous coupons!! For example, in January, I was sent coupons for $1.00 off pouch tuna. Last week Albertson's had their pouch tuna on sale for $1, so I was able to use those coupons (along with some B1G1 FREE coupons from the newspaper) and ended up paying less than $5 for 12 pouches of tuna. Great for food storage and the occasional tuna sandwich (I guess I could use these for tuna casserole as well, but I'm not a big fan).

  • Stock pile-Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal. I never ever ever buy meat unless it is on sale. Some weeks, I will spend a lot of my $35 on meat, but other weeks I don't buy any and have the extra money to purchase other ingredients that are on sale for meals we normally eat. We purchased a deep freeze last year on Craigslist so that we have room frozen meat.

  • USE COUPONS!!! I really cannot stress this enough. Anyone I know that saves on their groceries collects and uses coupons on a regular basis. We get two Sunday newspapers so that I have double the coupons to use on items. This week I will be getting 2 Aquafresh tubes of toothpaste for free because I have two coupons from the same Sunday.

  • Online resources-I use the Grocery Game , but I know others that have success with Coupon Sense as well. Using one of these programs is worth the money because it saves you time and they know a lot of the insider info that I don't. For instance, the Grocery Game told me a couple of weeks ago that a particular marinade was on clearance and there was a coupon that matched it. Without GG I would not have known because it wasn't advertised in the flier and I would have missed out on a good deal.

  • Don't buy things just because they are cheap. Free, yes. Cheap, no. If it is not something your family will eat (even if they were starving) don't buy it. Something might be 50 cents, but if it will just rot on your shelf than you are better off spending your money elsewhere.

  • Get your family involved. Zak sees the money that I save and is as excited about coupons as I am. I enlist his help cutting coupons and meal planning---in fact, as I am typing this he is cutting out last Sunday's coupons. This makes the job easier for you because it is shared. Older children can be involved too-cutting coupons, or even trying to plan meals that are within your weekly budget-a great real-world math lesson!!

  • I do not include formula, diapers or wipes in my grocery budget. Toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. , yes. Baby stuff, no.

  • Learn to spot a good price. Just because the sale is 10 for $10 doesn't mean that is cheap. I know that buying cereal at 2 for $5 is not a great deal because every so often it will go for 4/$5 and then I stock up. As you look at prices more and more, you will be able to recognize good deals.

  • Never pay more than 50 cents for toothpaste. EVER. If you are using coupons you should not be paying much for your toiletries.

  • Pay attention to the in store promotions. Often grocery stores will have themed promotions (like if you buy certain items you'll get a set amount of money off your final bill--use these to your advantage. Usually there will also be coupons that line up with items in the promotion. That is one of the reasons that I was able to get such a great deal on the products in the photo at the top. There were two in-store promotions going on, so even before coupons, I started out with $10 off.

Hopefully all of this info doesn't seem too overwhelming. I was going to divide all of it into a couple of different blog posts, but I worried that some of you might want it all at once so you can get started. If it's too much at once, just read a couple of the bullets per day for a week.

Couponing is really just a habit and once you get into a routine, it is pretty easy/quick to do. It makes your actual grocery shopping trip so much faster because you are shopping from a list.
The initial set up for your coupon organization, etc is the hardest part, but don't let it discourage you!!
You can do it and you WILL save TONS of money.
Looking back, I have no idea how I ever shopped without coupons!!
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or comment below.

**BTW-Wanted to clarify that the $60 I spent on the photo at the top was actually 2 weeks worth of budget because it was right after we got back from the cruise and we had been staying at my parents/on the ship. Just didn't want you to think that I can't practice what I preach :)


CeCe said...

I think that it's amazing that you save so much money! My last grocery bill was $140.00 and I don't have kids. How do you store coupons and what is your method of going through the expired ones? I save coupons and cut them, but then it gets overwhelming and I can never find what I need when I need it!

bethany said...

I use one of those accordion style coupon organizers and labeled each tab. The Grocery Game gives you ideas for labels, but I wrote them according to what works best for me.

I don't go through my coupons as often as I probably should to get out the expired ones. Usually I make Zak do that job :) But because I have the system with sections, when I am told about a deal on, say yogurt, I just go through the meats/dairy section.

Getting rid of expired coupons is a great sitting in front of the TV activity!! :)

j&krosser said...

Good post! I just need to get my hubby on board. And yes,I am totally ghetto and when
i take my paper products to recycle I dig for the coupons. And actually it is Kayda's "job" to hold the coupons as I get the item in the cart so it is teaching her about coupons AND helping her to be good during shopping.

j&krosser said...

P.S. and make sure that you take your reusable bags if you shop at Bashas because they give you .05 per bag.

Vanessa said...
This is a link to a blog of some one who is really good at saving money-this family is trying to spend $1500 or less on living expenses this year. Thought you and/or some of your readers would like to see.

Holly North said...

Thanks, Beth, for taking the time to type all of this out. Phil and I don't know how you do it. My kids attack me whenever I'm on the computer. Anyway, I know it takes a lot of work to write all of this stuff down and you've just about converted me to the coupon thing. Maybe I'll even start getting a newspaper. It's just this laziness thing that I struggle with. . . .

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