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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cutting back the grocery budget

I did get some requests to explain my way of stocking up on groceries so I am telling about it today. When a person is truly, honestly interested in cutting back the expenses in their budgets.... groceries is by far the easiest one to change. The more mney I can save on groceries.... the more money I have available for fabric!

My way of shopping is creating a grocery stash. It's not much different than having a quilt fabric stash. Whether you have a small stash or a large stash..... you have stocked up on fabrics for future quilts. That's what I do with my grocery trips.... stock up for the future. Just like you would go to your fabric stash to get fabrics for a current quilt..... you could also go to your grocery stash for today's meals or today's cleaning.

You have to understand that I started this many, many years ago. It's all about non-edible items that never go bad and about food items that can be stored for at least a year. This would be things like cleaning supplies, canned foods, or paper supplies. And... making good use of my freezer. There are two ways to save money on grocery items. I'll talk about both of them.

My average of $5 a week is taken from adding all my receipts for last year and dividing it by 52. Since the price of gasoline has started going up my average has changed dramatically. Higher costs at the store keep giving me sticker shock! I haven't done an average for awhile so I'm guessing my costs are probably going to be around $10 or possibly could reach $15 a week by the end of this year. This is still not bad for one person and occasionally a neighbor or two, oh and my daughter shops my stash too, and I donate quite a bit to my local food bank.

I should also tell you that I don't eat fast foods very often. In my childhood fast food was how fast Grandma could catch a chicken for Sunday dinner. When I get fast food it's like a special treat. I mean really..... one $5 meal at a fast food place eats up a whole week's grocery budget. When my daughter and I go to a really nice restaurant it's a very special treat. It may take up a whole month's food budget but it's worth every penny in quality time with her. I sure wish my sons lived closer so we could share the same quality times.

Ok, here is the first way to save.....

This one takes a bit of planning and an initial investment but it saves in fewer trips to the store. I try to time my bulk purchases around times when these items will be at their lowest price through the year. For example, canned and frozen vegetables are cheapest in the fall when crops are plentiful and the processors want to make room in their storage facilities. Cleaning supplies are cheapest in the spring when most people want to do lots of house cleaning. Paper plates will be at their lowest cost around the July 4th holiday. ETC.

Let me give you an example..... an easy one. Let's say you decide to grow a garden. You plant all the vegetables you and your family love to eat. When the crops start to ripen you start canning them or freezing them so you can preserve everything you grow. If you plan it right you will have enough canned and frozen vegetables to last until the next year's crops ripen. Right? The initial investment of buying seeds, fertilizers, tools, canning jars, or freezer containers is a part of putting away your crops.

Well for those of us who can't plant gardens; we rely on vegetables that someone else canned or froze. The processing companies. My initial investment is the purchase of a year's supply of vegetables. I simply multiply the number of any vegetables I use in one month by 12. If I under estimate the number needed.... I do like a gardener would do. Do without until the crops come in.
The second way to save.....

COUPONS! If you are truly serious about saving money on groceries you should learn about coupons.

If you were to walk down the street and saw $100 dollars worth of quarters and dollar bills on the street would you pick them up? If you knew you could get a Sunday paper with $100 dollars worth of quarters and dollar bills taped inside would you buy one? If you could walk into a grocery store and someone was giving away $100 gift cards or food vouchers free would you take any? Well that's what coupons are. Coupons are "found money" to be used to cut down on your grocery costs. The more of the "found money" you get.... the more of your hard earned cash stays in your pocket. I like free money!

Did you know that many people know coupons are available but don't bother using them? Why? Because they have the wrong ideas about coupons. They believe coupons are more trouble than they are worth. They believe coupons are only for high priced name brands and generic is cheaper. Well sometimes this is true. Sometimes generic is cheaper. An avid coupon person like myself knows when to buy name brand and when to buy generic.

Coupons also revolve around certain times of the year. For example canned vegetable processors will put out coupons at about the same time as their crops are plentiful. They want to be the brand you choose over their competition. If I time it right I can save a lot of money when I do my stock up trips by combining the sale with coupons.

If you really get into coupon use and find yourself saving money; you will eventually find yourself taking a second look at refunds (also called rebates) for some of the items you buy. For example if you bought a dozen cans of corn with a coupon then realized the company was willing to give you back what you paid out of pocket at the grocery.... would you accept it? Wow, more free money just for the asking.

Over the years I've seen many changes in the coupons. I've been a member of several different on line coupon groups as they changed or closed down. I could spend days typing up explanations for how to best use coupons but I'm a quilter who must work every day.

In all the years of me being an avid coupon user there is ONE person who explains coupons better than anyone ever has. Even better than someone like me who has done coupons for decades. She is Stephanie Nelson from ABC News Good Morning America. She is also known as Coupon Mom.

I would not tell someone to buy a product unless I really believe it useful. Stephanie's book and couponizer are well worth the money!!! The book explains all about getting groceries very cheap or free. Plus how to get items free to donate to a food bank. You could sit and read all her helpful hints from the website but..... getting the book is much better. It goes into more details. If you buy the couponizer you get the book free or maybe it's buy the book get the couponizer free. Either way it's a really good bargan. Go check it out. I think you will like saving money on groceries.

I have to get to work now.... please let me know if you like her site and her system. I'm curious if anyone else gets as excited about it as I did a few years ago when she first started the site.

1 comment:

Ruthie said...

Lots of great coupon information! Thanks