Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Let's Get Started!
Last year when my husband decided he wanted to go to med school, I decided that we needed to make some changes. Knowing that we were in for many more years of school I wanted us to lower our spending so that we might avoid taking out student loans. We tend to buy only fresh produce and never already prepared meals. We also were shopping at the most expensive store in our area because I loved all of the gourmet items that I could get there. I wont even go into what we were spending, but I knew we had room to tend back. My sister-in-law has been saving on her groceries for years so with her help I changed the way we shop. Last month we spent just under $70.00 and we actually bought more than we usually do in a months time. This process is more than just cutting our spending in half.
Here are 5 Basic Steps, but watch for my "tips" post for more information.
1. Budget Your Grocery Bill~ Look through the last three months of your bank account and find the average amount that you have been spending on groceries. Cut that amount in half; this is your goal for the first month. As times goes on you will end up lowering this amount.
2. Coupons~ Get yourself a subscription to the Sunday newspaper and a small accordion organizer. You can either clip the coupons and use the organizer to file them or some websites have you sort them based on coupon pack. A coupon pack is a method to sort based on a letter and number system which you will use with certain online programs and they will tell you how to do it.
3. Write It Out~ Make a menu for your family for the week and then also make a grocery list. This list should not only include what you need for dinner, but also other items you are low on.
4. Decide~ Make a decision about if you want to use an online program (couponsense.com and savvyshopperdeals.com are the two I like I like. There are others like, grocery game, couponmom, pinchingyourpennies.com etc. Just find the one that works best for you.) or just use the ads in the paper. I have compared almost all sites and have found two that I believe you save the most with. You can save more using the online program than just the ads.
5. Find the Sales~ Using your shopping list to find the sales and and find out if there is a coupon you can use. This takes time in the begining, but now I only take about 10 min. Then head to the store!
I'll walk you through my process.
I prefer to clip my coupons. There is no reason why; in fact it saves time to file them by letter and number. I guess I like to see what is offered. Before filing I quickly go through my file and pull out any that are expired and throw them away. I also grab any about to expire coupons just in case there is an amazing deal or I need one. I file my new coupons and head to the computer.
Depending on how much is on my list I either scroll through the stores on the website to see the deals (yes, it will tell you if there is a coupon with that item and how much you will save on most sites) or I will search by item.
I pull out the coupons I will be needing and put the first letter of the store next to each item I will be getting.
I head off to the grocery store and I ONLY buy the items that are on sale and I have a coupon for. With time you will learn what are good sales and what are not. For example, one store might be having 10 for $10 Betty Crocker cake mixes, which sounds great until you realize another always puts theirs on sale for .88 cents. Don't worry you will begin to recognize these things.
It is so important to stick to your list. Obviously produce, specialty cheeses, meats and other items like that don't have a coupon a lot of times. Just adjust your shoppiing around sales because many of those items will go on sale. Head up to the counter and you are done!