Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coupon Adventures : The Beginning

Okay, so it was grocery shopping time!  My last trip for the month of April, which is technically for the month of May.  :0)  Confused yet?

I meal plan.  And, what that means is that in April I make a list of meals that I'd like to serve for dinner during the month of May.  That way, I can plan my shopping trips around what we need for specific meals, and keep things streamlined.  The old way that I used to shop was just costing way too much money and I was throwing out food because I either forgot about it, or we just never really ate the things I thought I'd 'get around' to cooking.  So, now, I meal plan.  It's my modern way of hunting and gathering.  I plan for a month in advance, that way, I can shop my stockpile, and be ready for the next month.  It's sort of like having an emergency savings account, only with food.  You never know what will happen, sickness, baby coming too soon, etc...  So, I like to covered.  Also, I want to have a few months worth of stock pile in place for when Noah comes - just so Matt won't have to go grocery shopping.  :0)  We are currently stocked on canned goods and toiletries for approximately 4-6 months.  That is a good feeling, because those items are often expensive.  And now, I can wait for them to go back on sale in approx. 3 months before I have to spend more money on them (I'm speaking mainly of toiletries).

Aaaaaanyway, this month I had some excellent deals at CVS!  I was shocked.  Since learning the right ways to shop, and combine coupons, I have saved us tons of money.  I HATE spending money on food.  Yes, it keeps us sustained, blah, blah, blah - but in the end it's really just money going down the toilet.  Gross, I know...but true.

Here is our old 'budget' - which wasn't really a budget because we weren't really living by a budget.  Matt was working full-time, I was working full-time, we had no debt, no kids, and we were living high on the hog.  I bought groceries once a month, and spent about $120.  I probably threw away 40-50% of that food the following month(s) because we never ate it.  What a waste!  Ugh.  Anyhow, I rarely made dinner, and if I did it was frozen, pre-packaged, already cooked - just needed to be heated, you get the idea.  Not good for us and more expensive.  Then, we were going to dinner at restaurants approximately 3 times each week and we were both eating lunch outside the house 4-5 times each week.

So, the breakdown of our monthly food spending looked like this:
groceries $120
Dining out (lunch) - 2 people at $6-8/day x 5 days each week x 4 weeks in a month  = $120 - $160 (per person) PER PERSON!!!!
Dining out (dinner) - approx $20 per meal x 3 meals each week x 4 weeks each month = $240
GRAND TOTAL :  $480 - $520 per month on FOOD!!  Gross!!!

I dare you to take a look at what you are spending on food.  Go ahead...  I sure hope it's not as ridiculous as this!   We were making good money, and we didn't really think about it.  And, that's the problem, we weren't concerned about where our money was going, or how we were allocating it.  I mean, sure, I had us on a budget in every other area of our home life.  But, I didn't budget our food spending, and it is ridiculous to look at those numbers and compare them to now.  I mean, I WILL NOT eat at a restaurant unless I have a coupon to get something FREE - not just a % off, but FREE!  You can visit most company websites and withing moments of signing up for their 'club' have a coupon for something FREE in your email inbox.  FREE!! 

Now, after Levi died, I was fired from my job. This was last summer, so I decided to take a look at our income and see if I needed to go back to work or if we could truly make it on Matt's salary.  I wasn't in an emotional place that allowed me to work, and I certainly didn't care to get out of bed, put on my big girl panties and make money for someone else.  This is when it hit me just how much money we were wasting...and how foolish we had been.  I'm so glad that we have had this realization now, at 30, rather than later at 50, 60 or 70.  I pray that we can be much better stewards, and truly utilize what the Lord has given us to better ourselves, our future and our family.  I want Noah to have so much more than I ever did, and to learn more than I did at a younger age (re: money and being responsible).

After looking through our budget, and analyzing everything, I realized that yes, we could live off of Matt's salary, but we would have to make some sacrifices.  No more movies every weekend, lots more eating at home (meals prepared by me!), different cell phones, etc.  Of course, we have never had cable, we don't have home phone service, and our biggest extravagance outside of the internet is our $10/month subscription to Netflix.  :0)  But, it feels so good to have a simpler life and to know where EVERY dollar is going. 

All of that to say, #1 - I hope you are still reading and #2 - I coupon because it's liberating us.

So, here are my April spending/saving totals and goals.

One goal this month, build up my stock pile.  After this month, my grocery budget will drop, drastically.

April grocery budget $250.00; over budget by $41.78.  I tried really hard, and I was able to stick to my shopping list on all but one trip.  I blame it on pregnancy cravings, but really I should have just said no.  Next month I will be more diligent about this!!

April grocery totals:  
Actual Total $619.07
Total Out of Pocket : $291.78
Actual Saved : $327.29
Percentage Saved : 53%

Best Deals:
#1   CVS 04-10-2011

#2    Publix 04-18-2011
Total cost  $8.08, total saved $5.50, total out of MY pocket $2.58

Publix BOGO Duncan Hines cake mix @ $1.99.  I had a coupon for Buy 2 Duncan Hines frostings get 1 Duncan Hines cake mix FREE, and the frosting was on sale from regular $2.05 down to $1.29.  So, I paid $2.58 for 2 frostings and got both cake mixes for free!

#3  Winn-Dixie 04-18-2011

I won't go into all the details of the savings, but I got $122.34 in groceries for $44.59 out of MY pocket.  That is a total savings of $77.75!
My best deal of this trip was buying 6 Totino's Party Pizzas (a pregnancy craving that I'm not proud of) for $10 (using a coupon and getting 6 for $9).  Now, when I bought those 6 pizza's I got (for FREE) a box of 6 Lindy's Italian Ice Treats, 10 oz Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks, a pack of Little Debbie Snacks and a 64oz bottle of Hawaiian Punch!  FREE!!!  So I got all that for $9.  It was a total of  $10.58 + the $1 off from my coupon.  So I got $20.58 worth of food for $9.00!!


The Anglin Family said...

I got a bunch of the same deals!
I got the Freshmatic for 1.00 apiece. They were $5 at Dollar General! I got six of em:-)
And my food bill used to be waaay worse, so don't feel too bad!:-) Toothpaste(colgate) is on clearance at Target for .88 and I had several 1.00 off and .75 off coupons that are still out there..I got 12 tubes!

Tracy Purdy said...

I do pretty good at CVS, but need to work on getting better at the grocery store! It is SO time consuming! How do you keep all of your coupons organized?