Walmart finally restocked it's Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara. I had two free coupons from the All You magazine. Each mascara was priced at $6.47. The cashier gave me a bit of hard time. He said they only allowed one coupon per customer. I pointed out that the coupon said one coupon per purchase not one coupon per customer. He blinked blindly like he had no idea and put the second coupon through. That's $12.94 in savings! If you don't subscribe to All You magazine I would highly recommend it. It is really the only magazine that is loaded with good coupons.
Morgan has been studying consumer math for homeschool. Last Sunday when I went grocery shopping, she came with me. I put her in charge of the calculator. She helped me figure out the savings with coupons, price per unit and what our final cost would be. We were off by one dollar in our favor when it came time to check out. She was pretty excited. She's the only 9 year old I know that can balance a checkbook.
I think I've made a monster out of her with the coupons though.
So, back to finances. It's been very liberating to have control over our spending. I set a strict budget for groceries of just $100 a week. This is half of what I was spending last year so it has been a huge feat to accomplish this. For the past three weeks I've been feeding my family of 5 on about $70 a week. Since we budgeted the $100 a week, I rollover this money so that we can use it for holiday weeks, parties or get togethers that might cost us extra.
I am averaging about $40 a week in coupon savings and another $30-$40 in store savings. Each week, because of coupons and in store sales I am getting 3-4 items free. Creating a stockpile and having a pantry inventory always updated has helped me a lot to only buy what I need. I don't do a formal meal planning but have a general idea of what I want to cook for that week. This week I knew it was lasagna and shepherd's pie. So on Sunday I bought hamburg and extra potatoes (BOGO at Shaws). Kraft shredded cheese was on sale (further reduced by coupons) and I already had tons of lasagna noodles in the pantry.
I am also trying to plan meals that we can get more than one meal out of like the lasagna and Shepherd's Pie. The kids will eat these for days for lunch. Crock-pot meals also work great.
I've cut out a lot of prepackaged junk food too. Now we bake brownies or cookies for a fraction of the price of prepackaged junk. I feel alot better knowing what ingredients are going into my food too. Eggs-fresh from our chicken, cane sugar. It's all good.
Another huge savings is not buying sandwich meat. Deli's will charge about $6.99-$9.99 a pound. In January we bought a meat slicer and buy a huge ham or turkey from the Deli at BJ's. Did you know they will sell it to you for $3.35 a pound because it's unsliced and in bulk? Our last ham was about 30 pounds. That's at least half off the price they charge for preparing for you. We only slice what we need and freeze the rest. In past years, the kids would get sick of the sandwich meat and it would go to waste. Now if they don't want it we just don't slice for that week. Cheese is way cheaper in bulk too. So for an $88.00 investment, we've already saved a ton of money. And no more funky smelling turkey left in the meat drawer.
One of our homeschooling families also raises meat chickens and we have placed an order with her. I hate buying chicken from the store ever since watching some youtube
videos on chicken processing.
These are vivid, disheartening videos and not for children to watch but I put it out there because I think it's really important to know where your food comes from.
Our family will never be vegetarians but we can make appropriate choices on buying chicken that is not injected with hormones, antibiotics or that is processed in unsanitary conditions.
If my garden does as well as I hope it does, our grocery bill should be cut even further this summer. I'm trying potatoes and onions this year along with squash and those will keep well over the winter. I'll be canning and freezing a lot of stuff this summer too and that will help as well. We'll go apple picking again this summer because our two new apple trees probably won't produce much fruit for a few years to come.
Making my own cleaners, not buying paper goods, making laundry detergent and just taking inventory of what we really need vs. what we want, has made a huge difference. Yet, none of us feel like we are doing without anything. In fact, it's just the opposite-we have become very rich in spirit and bringing our family closer together because it is a family effort.
In all, we've put ourselves on a very strict budget in all areas. We are making some sacrifices in the way of vacations for a few years and we don't eat out anymore except an occasional pizza on Friday night when I go into work. If we continue on this path, we will be debt free (except our mortgage) by 2011. That means no credit card debt, no car loans, no equity loans. We don't have any more money coming in, in fact- a little less since my hours at work were cut. We are just taking charge of everything. It's something we should have done years ago and it's something we will continue to do even if the economy turns around.