Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saving Money Part 1: How to slash your grocery bill

My current monthly grocery bill is $130. This includes food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of 4 as well as all toiletries. I also use some of this money to stockpile good deals. For those of you who think this is quite low and that we must eat out all the time, we don't. Our eating out budget is $100/month. When I look back over our bank statements before we got on a spending plan, we typically spent around $1300 at WalMart and Kroger. Since we don't buy clothes at these stores, I'm left to guess that this money was spent on groceries and toiletries. Since we've set a plan, I've been surprised at how much money we saved and in the long run, it takes less time than my previous method of shopping.

My previous method of shopping was go out, buy what you need (or think you need), take it home, cook it for dinner, and repeat the next day! We went to the store almost every day for something! I know you're waiting for me to tell you how to save money, so here it comes!!!

1. Use coupons! (Someday soon, I'll do a post on how I sort and organize my coupons.)

Sunday Paper
-I've found that you get more coupons when you subscribe to the Sunday paper then when you buy the paper at the store. With that being said, if you can't find a good deal on a subscription to the Sunday paper and you live close to Dollar Tree, don't waste your money on the subscription. Buy your paper at the Dollar store instead!

eBay
-Another great source for coupons is eBay. I know it seems counter productive to buy coupons, but it has saved us a TON of money. Most coupons are sold in lots of 10, 15, of 20. You are not paying for the coupons, but the time it took for the person to sort, clip, and ship the coupons to you. I recently spent $2.00 for 20 CapNCrunch coupons. These coupons saved me $35.00. It was totally worth the cost of the coupon and my kids LOVE this cereal. I also purchased 30 Pepperidge Farm Garlic bread coupons for $2.00. These coupons allowed me to get 30 Garlic breads for 30-50 cents each depending on whether we got the kind with cheese on top! By combining these coupons with sale prices (or even every day prices), you can take a huge chunk off your grocery bill! Also, if you go to ebay through the Mr. Rebates site, you can earn 1% cash back. For more info on Mr. Rebates, click here!

Internet Printables
- These days more and more companies are providing coupons that you can print online. Most of these coupons have a print limit of 2 per computer. Not all stores accept internet printables, so check your local store for their coupon policy.

Important Rules of Couponing!!!

A. Know your stores coupon policy. Some stores double coupons, some triple them, and some take them at face value. My Kroger store triples coupons up to 50 cents and all coupons 51 cents are higher are honored at face value. Many Kroger stores double coupons up to 50 cents and all coupons up to $1.00 are redeemed at $1.00.

B. Don't be brand loyal. While you may have a favorite shampoo or toothpaste, be willing to try something new. By combining coupons with great deals, I haven't paid for toothpaste, shampoo, or conditioner this year and I probably have enough to last me for at least 6 more months!

C. Don't buy something you won't use just because you have a coupon! If you buy something you don't like and won't use just because you have a coupon, you are wasting money! The only exception to this rule is items you can get for free. If you can get items for FREE, take them to a shelter or foodbank. During times of economic turmoil, foodbanks and shelters are seriously lacking donations. Do your part!!!

2. Plan ahead! Going to a store without a written list is a recipe for disaster! I usually read through the weekly sale ad to see what the great deals are. Sometimes things that are on sale are not great deals. As you pay more attention to your grocery shopping and spending, you will become familiar with what the regular prices are, the sale prices, and the rock-bottom sale prices! Begin by making a list of things you will need or things that are a great deal. Check to see if you have any coupons for the items you will be purchasing. (Everybody organizes their coupons differently...I use a binder and this works for me!) Lastly, plan meals based on your grocery list and the food currently available at home. By making a meal plan before you shop, you can pick up anything you'd need to complete the meal (i.e. garlic bread for spaghetti, etc)

3. Post a menu!!! I just finished my March menu and posted it on the fridge today. Posting it on the fridge makes me accountable! My hubby and kids know what to expect for dinner and I know that if for some reason I don't get home from work on time, someone else can get started on dinner because we have all the ingredients we need.

4. Stockpile! By buying groceries and toiletries at rock bottom prices and storing them, you can save a ton of money! Just make sure to use what you buy! I buy boneless skinless chicken breasts whenever that are sale for less than $1.90. I typically buy as much as I can afford and eat in a 3 month period. When I get home from the store, I immediately repackage them in family sized ziploc bags, mark the date on them, and throw them in the freezer. I also recently bought Fiber One bars (which I love) and Quaker Instant Oatmeal (which I also love) for $.50/box. I used the extra money in my budget to buy 10 boxes of each. That may seem like a lot, but we go through a lot of these items at our house! If I can find cereal (that we love) for under $1.20/box, I will buy a ton of it! Make sure the items in your stockpile are things you will use and that you bought them at a great price. For my family, it's not worth stockpiling cereal on sale for $2.50/box...even it is normally closer to $4. For some of you, you may feel differently and you need to do what's best for your family!

5. Don't beat yourself up! There will be days when you go to the grocery store and you don't save over 70%. I have that I typically save somewhere between 50% and 90% per trip between sales and coupons, but that doesn't always happen. Sometimes one of your kids get sick and they crave something you don't have a coupon for that's not on sale. My family is more important than money! Sometimes I splurge and buy things for my hubby or kids as a special treat...usually these are on sale, but sometimes I just do it because I want to! Sometimes, I even splurge on myself (GASP!!!). The important thing is to set a goal, track your spending, and move forward!!!

Hopefully this has been somewhat helpful! If you'd like more in depth info, let me know. Also, if what I've said doesn't make sense, I'd be happy to clarify!

Happy Saving!!!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info! I'm slowly getting the hang of this:) I hadn't thought of buying coupons off ebay! I was wondering how you got so many items for so cheap and now it makes sense!! I saved a ton of money last week at Meijer and at Kroger but I have learned you have to read the ads really carefully. Sometimes the sizes of the items aren't what you thought! Also, don't send your husband and your teenager to Walmart ever! Dennis had to take Ethan to basketball so I told him to get some milk (4 gallons) and tell them you need a price match. Also, Elliot needed a notebook for school. I even reminded him, "only get the milk and the notebook!" He got trash bags, propel water, milk :) ice cream, cookies, and the notebook! $30 later!! Ugh!! I told him he was grounded from Walmart!! Anyways, thanks for the great advise!

    Sandy

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  2. You can also go to couponmaster.com to purchase coupons as well..thought I would let everyone know they can look there..God Bless

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  3. Great advice! It's amazing that you spend that little each month on groceries...you give me hope to save even more! I thought I was doing good saving but you have given some really great ideas...thanks a bunch!

    Donna
    http://frugaldonna.blogspot.com

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