Budget crunching: Grocery costs. Could you manage to save some $$$
These days when all the bills and birth cost savings are out of the way we are making out with an average of $100 left for groceries and possible discretionary spending. We are normally pretty money conscious people but now that we are chunking away $700 a check for the home birth it has squeezed the budget even tighter.
One of the only ways we can cut back is with our grocery bill. When we started out tackling the grocery budget we were only shopping at one or two stores. It was the super Walmart the other was Sam’s Club. We were spending so much just buying all that we needed in those two places. Sure we were buying food in bulk so we had lots to last us but the priority shifted and having full cupboards no longer became the focus, we needed to just save as much as possible ASAP. This mean spending as little as possible, whenever possible.
I know many families are also in this same boat either because they are now on a limited income or because they too want to cut back on their grocery spending. I’ve found a few ways to help us cut back and save money on the grocery bill:
1. Don’t shop without a grocery list. Your list is your map for navigating the shopping trip. Without it you will stray from what is priority or become blinded by merchandising or sales that tempt you to buy things you don’t necessarily need. Throughout your week keep a list going on the fridge of things you need to shop for.
2. Find out which stores have sales on what you need. Only buying what is cheapest from each store is a great way to save money! Each store runs weekly specials on things, why not take advantage of all those specials and save as much as possible? Sure, this means going from one store to the next seeking out those sale items but all those cents saved sure do add up!
What I do is take all the weekly ads that come in the mail and I flip though each one looking for those items I’ve placed on my shopping list. When I find an item I need on sale at a particular store I note the price and store on my list. After going through the 3-4 store ads I can then plan which stores are offering the best deals on what I need.
Now in my town the super Walmart has a “meet or beat” guarantee so often times they’ll have a better deal than those stores running specials. To be sure we are getting the best deal we visit the Walmart first looking to see if any of their prices are better than those we’ve found advertised at other stores.
We’ll hit one store up for BBQ sauce and rolls, another store for ribs and Pepsi and so on. We only end up buying a few things from each place but it does save us a ton of money. It turns in to an adventure for us too, blitzing all the towns stores, dealing with all sorts of people and trying to find the best deals.
3. Only shop for what you absolutely need. Before heading out on your shopping trip take your list and prioritize things. What do you absolutism need right now and what can wait till next pay day? What things can you go without all together? Mark these items appropriately.
For us this meant cutting much of the comfort items out especially when they were so expensive. Things like my beloved Raisin Nut Bran cereal that runs $4.50 a box was one of the first things to go. Things like meats, milk and other staples are more of a priority than premium cereal right? If you can look at your shopping list and identify these “non priority” items it will help you to cut back on what you spend.
Sure if you have a coupon or can find a non necessity item for way cheap it doesn’t hurt to splurge on it but being able to tell when there is a good deal, when there is not and when it is best to just skip the item is key on those little extras.
4. Clip coupons and use them in conjunction with store sales. The newspaper has coupons and you might even get a coupon mailer at some point during the week. Set these aside and when you have time clip the coupons. Also, there are many great sites that offer printable coupons online such as:
You’ll get the best savings when you use those coupons to buy items that are also on store special. You know double the discounts. They key is clipping and keeping those coupons until the store runs a special on those items.
But don’t be tempted to buy things that you don’t need, having a coupon and being able to save a bit often isn’t worth the money you will save if you just skip buying that one item all together (if you really can do without it).
5. Find ways to get the coupons you need and to get rid of the rest that you don’t need. There is no point in coupon clipping if you can’t find coupons for the things you truly need right?
Well there are a number of ways to either swap, trade or exchange coupons these days and this exchanging makes those unusable coupons of value to you, they become a means for acquiring the ones you truly need. One of the easiest ways to get rid of those useless ones and find the ones you really need is by joining a coupon train.
Since I’ve started clipping coupons (this week) I’ve managed to gather up about $50.00 in coupons I don’t even need. Sure we did find many that we did use and that were super helpful but now I got all these other ones (you can see my list here) that I am desperately trying to get rid of in exchange for some that I can use.
I decided I would try out starting up a coupon train to get rid of those coupons I can’t use and to get my hands on some I’ll benefit from more.
Coupon trains are a great way to trade all those coupons you can’t use for coupons that you need. The person who starts the train gathers up $100 or more worth of coupons that she isn’t going to use, and posts that she is starting a new train, and needs riders. The members who want to join send her a PM with their name, address, and any “wish list” they might have.
The leader types up a sheet with all that info, and mails it to the first person on the list. That person takes out whatever coupons she wants, plus any that have expired or are about to, and replaces them with new ones of equal value. Then she mails it to the next person on list. It continues on until it circles back to the leader, and starts over again.
A good train has members that follow some simple rules:
1. Don’t put in a bunch of coupons nearing their expiration date.
2. Don’t load the train with duplicates.
3. Pay attention to other people wish lists and try to put in coupons that they can use.
4. Be quick about getting the train in the mail to the next person.
Sound like something you might be interested in? Join my train!