Grocery Budget Buster

I will be the first to admit that I don’t grocery shop like most people but I do shop in a way that over a period of a year, saves money and feeds us well.  I did excellent in the month of June of keeping cost low and even decided to reduce our monthly budget. I knew that sometime this summer, I would need to restock on meat and some other items, even last Sunday I had high hope of holding down our spending for the month. We had been to Costco twice and spent a total of $497 . But as of today that is not possible.

Last Friday, Matt texted that we were out of toilet paper so I stopped by the CVS, where I thought our preferred brand was on sale. It was on sale but not what I thought so I just grabbed one package.  The sale I was thinking about started on Sunday. Sunday night Lily and I headed back to CVS to grab the toilet paper of course and a couple of other deals. I was disappointed that I had to get a couple of rainchecks which threw off my savings. My goal is always 60% but with buying the needed toilet paper and also some additional sunscreen I ended up spending $27.25 and saving 48% or $24.71.  I did start this trip without any ECB and ended with $2 so not a complete fail.

Next, the one store in our area that doubles coupons started a super sale, which doubles coupons up to $2. I looked over the list and realized that many of items we need were available so last night we headed out. I was also able to grab drinks that we will be taking with us for our beach trip.  I did hit my 60% mark, spending $77.97 and saving 140 or 64%. I used three rainchecks that included 10 packs of hot dogs, flour and sugar, all items that I did not have coupons on but were a great deal with the rain check.

Finally, we are still following our monthly plan with lots of different items on the weekend. We decided to have Hamburger Helper on Monday since both girls had cheerleading. Matt and I realized that we were using our last pack of ground beef.  Typically we purchase between 30 and 50 pounds at a time and fry and place in one pound bags which make meals really quick and easy to fix. Zaycon Foods is where I always purchase chicken breast and I have been pleased with the ground beef in the past. I got an email this morning with a pick up for ground beef next week and an additional 12% off code. We decided to go ahead and purchase 80 pounds of ground beef. We plan to fry up 50 pounds and just freeze the other 30 pounds to use as raw meat. Total cost for 80 pounds of ground beef $215.38 or $2.69 a pound which is the cheapest I have seen this year.

Currently I have spent $818.07 so a total budget fail but it should allow us to eat well through the rest of the year. My goal will be to lower the grocery budget to $400 for both August and September to keep us on track for the year.

Bargain Brag 6/23/2016

I continue to stand by my thoughts that saving and couponing is a lifestyle not a hobby.  I was able to purchase this today at CVS for 56 cents.

IMG_26033 12 packs of Diet Coke and 24 bottles of water.

First is Coke Points, I have been adding points and spending points for 3 or 4 years. Today I had a free 12 pack coupon.

Next is CVS sale. I was planning to use a rain check I had 3 packs for $10 but when I saw the sale, I simply put my rain check back in my pocket.

Next, 50 cent off coupon from the CVS app, it was advertised in the sale paper is the way I discovered.

Finally, a $5 gift card that was earned through MPLaces. Basically this is an app that you “check in” (click the button) for place. I usually hit most of the 25 each day at stop lights on my way to and from work.

Total out of pocket fifty six cents which breaks the items down to less than a penny each!

Step by Step CVS Trip!

I started my trip with $5 ECB from last weeks trip, I also received $5 ECB from Beauty  Club Rewards. I will explain these below.

CVS tracks your spending in several ways that end up helping you. First if you buy a CVS brand item you get 2% back at the end of the quarter.  This shows up on the bottom of your receipt each purchase but does not include anything from today. Second is the “Beauty Club.” You actually have to sign up for this but it is very simple. It tracks how much you spend on soap, hair care, body wash, make-up and other random items. This cost is considered pre coupon, for example, I purchased a razor today that was marked at $13.49,this is the amount that is counted as beauty club. These is also are tracked at the bottom of your receipt but do not show items purchased on the same day. Both these items print automatically when you scan your card at the red machine. Quaterly ECB print the first time you scan in April, July, October and January. Each time you reach the $50 mark of Beauty Club they will print in approximately a week.

I spent approximately 30 minutes on Thursday or Friday evening looking at the upcoming weeks list at Southern Savers.  Click on Drug Store at top, then CVS, last click weekly deals and pick the correct week. It is very simple to make a printable list. For me I pick all free items after coupons, and then I usually pick items that we use that are less then $1. I try to check my coupon inserts so that my list only includes items that I actually have coupons for. I print my list and stick in my folder with the coupons I will use. Next step is to decide how many transactions?  I will also label this on my printed list if I have more than 2 or 3.  I have learned that it is easier to do multiple transaction and then you can use ECB for the next one. This week, I planned two transactions.

I ended up actually going to CVS prior to work today because I got too busy yesterday. My first transaction was for the Woman’s Razor. I use a coupon for $3 off from Smart Source 4/24 and $10 ECB that I listed above. Total cost was $1.08. I earned $5 ECB. My second transaction was for a total of 4 bottles of Suave, 2 were the 3n1 Kids and the other two were Suave Professionals. I had a coupon for 3 of the items again from Smart Source 4/24.  After coupons and ECB my total was $4.84 and I received 5 ECB,

Total spent $5.92, saved $26.86 or 82%

The razor has been on my list for several weeks and will last me most of the summer. The shampoo is one of the items along with deodorant and body wash that I always stock up on if possible for around $1 each. I NEVER pay for toothpaste or mouthwash.

Do you have a question that I missed?

 

Saving on Saturday 04/23/2016

sos

I actually have 3 ways I have been saving this week to share with you today. First is a very common one, CVS.   I have actually not been to CVS in three weeks but this was definitely a week that I needed and wanted to go. I consider a good trip saving over 60%.  This weeks’ trips met the criteria as I spent $26 and saved $38 or 60%. I am more pleased that most of the items purchased were on my list of things we needed including deodorant for Lily, body wash for Matt and bathroom cleaner. As you probably already know Diet Cokes are always on my list. The second way, I saved this week is by purchasing chicken breast from Zaycon (my referral link). They sent me a coupon good for 20 cent off a pound which saved me 11% or $25. I also had a credit from a previous pick up where I was short some pounds of pork tenderloin and a referral credit. I was able to purchase 120# of chicken breast for $198.04!  Finally I did not save money but earned free money from Swagbucks. I have been completing less than an hour a day answering survey question and or watching videos, letting them run on my screen for the past month. I cashed out Swagbucks for a $25 Target gift card and discovered a $5 Amazon card in my account!   Free money is better than saving money!

How did you save this week?

Miscellaneous Monday

  • Our menu plan is very simple for this week. Leftovers for Monday and Wednesday and Pulled Pork on Tuesday.  I want to try and clean out as much of the refrigerator as possible before our trip.
  • I am working hard to achieve a good work/life balance.  I am finding it impossible. Work is crazy busy and the kids are crazy busy as well.
  • I am really looking forward to this trip just to have some down time without feeling rushed or like I should be doing something else.
  • The weather is starting and predicted to start warming up, I still do not have a plan for the square foot garden so I need to get this down on paper soon.
  • The heat is back on in our house. I am hoping that once we leave on Thursday, that will be the end of the heat for the year.
  • I have given myself a goal to earn $200 from Swagbucks by December of this year. I am so close to cashing out my first $25 that it is tempting to purchase an item that is 100% back but I don’t want to spend any money. So I will patiently or not so patient wait till closer to the end of the month to achieve this.
  • Zach is continuing to make huge improvement in soccer. He was able to score 2 goals this weekend and made 2 stops as goalie.
  • Lily has found her backhand spring at cheerleading! It is so nice to watch her tumble!

January in Review 2015

Personal-
1. Blogging
Post 20 per month. Fail. This is post number 19. I honestly had a post in my head for yesterday but just not the energy to get out.

2.Weight Loss– 175#.  I have used the treadmill on at least 2 a week but still. FAIL

3. SpiritualSpend at least 5 days a week, reading and studying The Bible. Fail but improvement noted with 50% success for the month.

It would not appear that January has been a good month because I did not achieve any of these goals. One way to look at it is that I have lots of room for improvement.

Financial- 

1. Set aside money each month in every budget category. Fail-4 of the categories are without funding this month.

2. Establish and maintain Emergency Fund- Fail.
3. Groceries: Goal is for $700. SUCCES- Total spending for the month is $199! I am so excited and surprised at how easy it was. I am going to increase the goal to $400 for February but that still stays way below the goal amount.

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month- SUCCESS. We spent only $250 in gas this month!

5. Pay off all Credit Card debit by December 2016- I am not exactly sure how to report on this. Matt unfortunately did lose 2 accounts in the month of January so we are not going to make stellar progress but at this point any progress is a success. So I reduce our overall credit card debit and will count this as a success.

Financially, I am very proud of the month of January. We are making small  but steady progress and just need to keep things moving in the right direction.

 

Snow Sunday Savings!

The sun came out today which began the melting process for us! Matt has worked most of the afternoon clearing our driveway so I can head to work tomorrow.  After he finished he asked if we wanted to venture out to CVS and Walmart.  Considering that I had already opened my last 2L of Diet Coke, I agreed. This was another excellent week at CVS.  I completed 3 transactions spending $1.92 and saving $27.16 or 93% I grabbed 8 bottles of Diet Coke and 3 tubes of free toothpaste. I should have grabbed another Diet Coke but my calculations were off.  Next stop was Walmart to grab a couple of items that we will run out of prior to the end of the month, I was able to use a calculate and list and stay on track spending $30.73 which puts me at $199.83 for the month.

Since we all have been at home since Thursday and the kids really have been at home for a week, we used some of the time to clean and re-organize. I was seriously thinking about needing to push some more storage containers on Thursday but instead, found and repurposed things we already had. We are in the process of reducing the playroom and I took the shelf from it and moved it to Zach room.

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The best part of this shelf is that it originally was a kitchen cabinet/bar in a house that my brother and sister in law purchased when they were first married. I was helping with some of the work and originally place this shelf in my  building. As you can tell it has been moved and reused but still is a large steady piece of furniture. I also reconfigured my closet and was able to place this smaller shelf in the playroom.

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Total spend on this project which ended up taking a full day Zero.

A final way we have saved money this weekend is cooking at home and using items that we already have. I am hoping to stick to a lower budget for at least February and most likely even March. I am realizing that we have a lot of food that I have purchased and by keeping a rolling stockpile, I should be able keep at least that line item lower for several month this year, therefore reducing our total expenses significantly even with resuming the $700 a month budget in April or May.

CVS Savings 01/17/2015

I explain the saving in just a second but first my newspaper drama that continues to make life interesting. I live in a rural area, this is no secret. In fact the “local” newspaper does not offer a Sunday edition. Coupon inserts are with the Saturday paper and they do not offer a “Saturday” only subscription.  The bright side is that I do have the option of two different city newspapers that both are delivered. I have been attempting to get regular deliver of at least one of these papers for several years.  It is usually a 75% chance that I get the paper at all. I have spoken to both of the paper on many occasions and currently am boycotting the Greensboro News and Record due to the fact that after paying for 6 months I received a paper 1 out of 8 weeks.   The other paper is supposed to arrive prior to 8am on Sunday morning. I spoke with someone about 3 weeks ago on a Monday after not receiving a paper, I was promised that if I would contact on Sunday prior to noon they would make the carrier bring a paper. The problem I usually have is that we go to church around 8:30 and don’t get home before noon. Today, was different since we are taking a skip day. I called the paper office about 9:30 and did the usually leave a message. I had already talked about ‘needing” several coupons from this weeks insert for my CVS trip, so Matt volunteer to go purchase a paper. After returning home around 11am we noticed the paper person in our driveway. I am not sure why but instead of one paper they left 2. I was super excited because this allowed me to stock up on deodorant for Matt!  So I was able to use coupons for all three of the insert this week.

I am still participating in the January Money Diet, one of the major things I am realizing is that I often buy food for the sake of convenience or because I know we will need it before long instead of waiting til I can find it on sale or we actually need it. One of the things I have been doing this month is making a list of items that we are low on as well as things we are in need to purchase. Matt is down to one stick of deodorant and one bottle of body wash so I placed these on the list and decide unless he ran out, I was going to wait for a sale. The sale happened this week!

It was Kendall’s turn to help me shop this week. I ended up completing 3 transactions, one on my card and two on Matt’s card. Total spent $12.52, total saved $41.70 or 77%.

Transaction #1- Matt’s card
2 bottle of Pantene shampoo  2 for $8.00
Coupon from 12/27 $3 off 2
5 ECB from last week
Paid $.56 ( tax) and received 4 ECB

Transaction #2- Matt’s Card
2 bottles of Irish spring body wash 2 for $7.00
2 coupons from today’s insert $1.00
2 sticks of Right Gear deodorant 2 for $7
BOGO coupon from today (subtracted 3.50)
4 ECB from first transaction and $.75 ECB from last week
Paid $4.73 and received 6 ECB

Transaction #3- My card
4 sticks of Right Gear Deodorant 2 for $7
2 BOGO coupons from today’s insert
$0.75 ECB from last week
Paid $7.23 and received 6 ECB

 

I count it a success any time I leave with more ECB than actual money I spent!

Extreme Couponing

I was really surprised to discover that I had not been to CVS since before Christmas, in fact, my ECBs expire this week. The reason behind my long absence has been simple, no really deals that I wanted/needed to grab.  This week was a huge change. I started the trip with 2 $0.89 ECB. I also received $2 ECB for winter spending on Matt’s card.

Here is a breakdown by the numbers
5 total transactions,( one of my card and four on Matt’s).
$7.88 total spent
$84.72 total saved of 91% with taxes included and 95% taking out the $3.68 of sales tax
$6.50 in ECB left.

I purchased:
6 12 pack of Coke (Used 6 free 12 pack coupons from my Coke rewards)
4 packs of M&M ( used 2 Buy One Get One Free coupons)
2 2L Liters (used a 0.24 coupon that printed from red machine)
4 Bottles so L’Oreal Shampoo ( used 2- $4/2 from 01/03)
2  Packages of Crest Sensi strips.

 

This is one for the record books!  My total grocery spending is less than $12 for the month so far!  I did make a trip to the building today to check out what we have in the freezers and did a little bit of organizing so we can get our pork order from Zaycon tomorrow. We have enough of a variety with the pork order that I am going to say we are going to plan on coming in under goal for this month of $200 and reduce the grocery spending in February to $500. That will get us totally on the right foot with groceries and may in fact help to control/reduce grocery spending for the year!

Food For Thought-

Today is my Mom’s birthday, which means we are fast approaching the end of the year. I am already in the process of looking and working on a budget for 2016. I will do a final update and set new goals hopefully this week but today I want to focus on Food.

  • Menu planning is still happening although I have not been posting the last couple of weeks have been about a couple of special meals and using up leftovers. This week we have already had a meal using meatballs my sister in law brought, tonight we made a roast and used some the sides we had left-over and tomorrow the plan is to use and make pork fried rice from leftover Christmas Eve shoulder. I am also adding some “convenient” meals to the freeze with the extra time we have this week.
  • Our grocery spending for the month is close to $900 which is way over budget. I have been taking advantage of some sells and stocking up, in addition to some extra meals and appetizers.
  • Our average monthly grocery spending for the year is at $691.59. I am totally amazed and excited for this number as it is under my $700 a month that I started in July.
  • I have been looking into some “average” numbers for grocery spending for our size family a “thrifty” plan is $770 and a “Low” plan is $1028 per month.
  • After finding these numbers I am very comfortable with maintaining our grocery spending to $700 a month. I am going to continue to focus on each month but not beat myself up for spending over now that I know it averages out within the year!
  • I was also able to find that the “average” family spends about $200 a month on eating out. In the past, I have not budgeted anything for eating out but this will become a regular expense in the year 2016.
  • We are starting the year with lots of meat in the freezer. I have already paid for 80# of pork that Matt will pick up the first week of January. We also just recently purchased chicken and a large order of ground beef. I am hopefully to not purchase any additional meat until March.
  • Our garden this year did well and we have been enjoying a variety of things. We have enlarged the garden to it’s capacity and hopefully will be able to multiply our freezing stock for the year.
  • I did not even attempt to lose weight with our trip to Disney and the holidays so I will back on track with eating healthier again in January.
  • Total random thought but at least it is food related. I just received in the mail a total of 6 free 12 packs expiring March 31. I will hold on till CVS offers ECBs or I just need them.