Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting Practical at the Super Market (Part 3)

My husband and I created 3 financial goals that were "problem" areas in our budget. We slowly added different cost saving ideas into our daily lives, here is our first goal - tackling the grocery budget! The other two areas: dining out, and having excess funds set aside for an offering to God will be posted soon!
Goal #1: - drop our grocery budget from 450.00 to 250.00 per month (includes: Diapers, formula, & hygiene products). At the time we radically addressed this, it was early 2008, grocery costs had increased so much that we often went over the 450.00 budget, the final month before our fast we spent 480.00 on groceries! I'd heard of a site where the mother claimed to feed her family of 4 on 35.00 a week! The website is called Money Saving Mom and it has been universal in helping me get our grocery costs down. I also stopped spending 100-150 a month at our favorite wholesale store – Costco. I've learned that bulk is nice, but by using coupons I can stretch 100-150 way farther! Though I'm not dedicated enough to get my groceries down to 35.00 a week like moneysavingmom, I've settled for 50-60 per week - a firm 250.00 per month. I achieved this goal by: Getting a coupon organizer (binder system or envelope) and start carrying it wherever you go, you'll be amazed how much it saves you! Include calculator, pens, scissors, paperclip and a blank pad of paper. Then look everywhere for coupons, sign up for coupons or free samples (free samples always come with more coupons) through the following sites:

  • Proctor & Gamble: (load coupons on Kroger Card)

  • Cellfire: (load coupons on Kroger Card) * this site is new and also has coupons for restaurants you can send to your cell phone

  • Shortcuts: (load coupons on Kroger Card)

  • Vocal Point: a company that sends out free samples for new items, I just received a razor in the mail, plus 5 coupons for additional free razors.

  • A Full Cup: Target printable coupons

  • Freebie's: A site where free web offers are posted (ie: razors, coupons) & other savvy tips for saving money

  • A great place to start – a site where great deals and money saving tips are posted

  • The Simple Dollar: Getting out of debt ideas

There are tons of free sites that will do all the work each week for you. If you love to shop at Kroger then find a site that posts each week what deals are at Kroger, or Albertsons, or Target, etc. These very talented bloggers will go through ads and post them online with the appropriate coupons to make that deal. It is similar to the grocery game – but free! Many coupons today are online, so all you need to do is click "print." I would say I use about 65% normal ad coupons and 35% printable coupons. Also, what has helped me is buying the Sunday paper with 2 ad inserts, that way you can do each deal twice. Often the 10/10 deals are very easy because you have so many coupons you're able to get 10 items for 4.00 or so. Couponing also forced us to not get attached to brands, we're use to buying what is on sale – no matter what brand it may be.

  1. Stock pile - through the use of couponing, learning Walgreen's rebate program, CVS ECB program, grocery store's Catalina deals, freezing fruits & veggie's when in season, and knowing the cyclical yearly deals. I learned each store gradually and slowly integrated their deals into my shopping plan. You can also add additional coupons to your Kroger card (online) which will be deducted at checkout. The three sites are: proctor & Gamble , Cellfire & For example, if you see that Life Cereal is on sale for 2.99, you can use a 1.00 off coupon from the Sunday paper plus a 1.00 off coupon that you added onto your Kroger card. That would mean you paid 1.00 for a box of cereal. Stores like Wal-Mart get you in the door because overall their prices are low, however, stores like Kroger & Tom Thumb & Albertson's use sales to get you in the door – these are called loss leaders (the store loses money when you buy them). Many of the sale items are actually losses to the store, but they assume you'll buy other items which will make up for their loss. By combining sales with coupons, often you can get items for free or close to free. Sometimes I even get overages, which means I make money buying a product. My all time favorite place to get hygiene, diapers, wipes, medicine, etc is at Walgreen's. I love it because all my savings/charges are on a gift card so I don't have to spend any money out of pocket. It took me three months to get their rebate, EZ saver program down and it has saved me hundreds! The way you get money added to your card is by purchasing items from the EZ saver rebate book, then you submit the receipt # online and store them up until the end of the month. Then submit online and the funds appear on your gift card within 5 days of approval. The way you make money is, say they have mouthwash for 4.49 with a rebate of 4.49 - great it's free! Even better, you use a 1.00 off coupon when you buy the mouthwash and now you've made 1.00 plus .10 cents because Walgreen's ads 10% if you have your rebates added to a gift card. I am always buying things I wouldn't use because I make money, especially on makeup, then I give it away.

  2. Create a weekly/Monthly meal calendar – use recipe's with ingredients that are on your stockpiling list. I love the Food & Family magazine mailed out Quarterly by Kraft, they have very easy 20 minute or less recipes that take very little prep and use common cooking products. Best if all -- its free! Also, Moneysaving mom puts up a 40.00 menu each week, so if you want to start meal planning, but don't know how to begin start here with a 40.00 menu.

  3. Try your local farmers market for fruit and veggie's since they don't often go on sale. Sprouts has an overall cheaper price – about 50% cheaper than Tom Thumb. They also sell products in bulk, which sometimes makes it cheaper to buy (bulk). There are farmers markets all over, have fun checking them out! Also you can save some money and the environment by bringing in your own bags!

  4. Some of my produce I find on clearance and then freeze it for future use – banana that are going bad for smoothies or banana bread, same with strawberries and melons. I try and freeze just about anything before it goes bad, it provides time to come up with another way to eat it. If you go to Sprouts on Wednesday's it is double ad day, so you get the sales from the prior week, plus the sales for the current week.

  5. Shop early in the morning - midweek (Tuesday through Thursday). That is when you'll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you cannot shop in the morning, be sure to keep an eye out for products that have been marked down. The sell by date, is not the expiration date! The sell by date is the date the store must sell the product, but that doesn't mean it's expired or bad.

  6. Cook In Bulk, it's a Breeze, then freeze! Have a monthly cooking party for yourself 1 night a month – I turn on the worship music, clean out the leftovers in the fridge, sing loud and off key and bake for about 3-4 hours after the kids are in bed. I pre-cook meals that I know we will be using the next month. We always need more breakfast burritos and baby food! I'll make 3-4 batches of Enchilada's one of the months, then the next month make 3-4 batches of Spaghetti sauce or Lasagna. I'll pre-cook chicken and cut them up into cubes and freeze. Other favorites are: muffins, pancakes, beans, and cookies! frozen. We always have frozen meals on hand for baby dinners or for when schedules go awry and my meal plan just won't work.

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