Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week 2 Grocery Game with Mom

Well, sort of - mom didn't go with me :) And most of the stuff I bought was for me! But I did get the chance to show her how it works along with my sister-in-law who is in the process of buying her first home (with my brother of course).

So, how did I do? Pretty good. I'm sure there's a lot I have to learn about Publix - they have lots of flyers with coupons that can be matched to manufacturers coupons but I don't know where you get all those! Oh well, I've got one more week here so I think I'll be good.

What I got today - Kaitlyn was my model:



I spent: $59.89
I saved: $73.05

Thanks to coupons.com I had some more great coupons:

$1.00 off Crystal Light - on sale Buy 1 Get 1 free - I was able to print off more then 1 coupon so I got 6 for $1.00 each down from $3.99

$0.75 off 2 Gogurt which were on sale Buy 1 Get 1 free - $2.55 each originally - down to $1.80 for 2 or $0.90 each

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Month End Money Recap


Can you believe it? May is basically over! This month has been extremely busy for me - for Cherie too I know.

We went from VA to FL to CO within a week then I'm back in FL and my DH is back in VA. Crazy! All while trying to stay on a budget!

Fortunately I think we did quite well. It's been hard for me because I'm less in control of the numbers - I haven't seen my money program in almost a month so I don't know what we spent on groceries in May but I'm pretty confident we stayed under our $500 budget.

We did not use our credit cards for another month which still amazes me considering just how much traveling we did and all on cash - yea :)

Goals for June:

Spend even less on groceries - I'm trying to establish a weekly budget for everything - not just groceries in an attempt to spend less. Rather then break everything into certain categories I'm going to set a weekly goal to include everything for that whole week except gas - Kirk has to get back and forth to work regardless of the gas prices!

Get back to work :) Every summer I babysit a friend's two daughters (so, yes, over the summer I have 7 kids) and once I'm back from FL I am back to work. The extra income will pay us back for our trip and pay down some debt.

Sell some stuff - my DH is working on this now but I really want to get lots of things gone.

What about you? Any new goals for June? Or even the summer?

Photo by +angst

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frugal Millionaire



I came across this article in Yahoo! News:



http://finance.yahoo.com/news/How-to-Spend-Like-a-Frugal-usnews-15357371.html

I really like what it said. I may not be a millionaire (certainly not now!) and I may never be but everything the article said could be applied to any of us making any amount of money.

I like to write and my favorite characters are those that aren't what they appear to be - you know superheros - people think they are ordinary (idiots?) people and truly they aren't. We, the audience know their secret and that is part of the fun. And so, in life I'd much rather HAVE money in the bank then APPEAR to have money in the bank all the while charging up my credit cards. Because truthfully I will NEVER be a millionaire if I spend all that I make and charge the difference. Credit cards only make credit card companies rich - never the users.

According to the article even millionaires (the frugal ones):

- buy on sale

- use coupons to get the best deals

- buy clothes off season

- plan their purchases and don't buy on impulse

- eat meals at home to save money

- don't splurge when going out

- buy used cars!

No wonder they're rich - maybe we could all learn a little something :) It pays to have money in the bank!

Photo by AMagill

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Harris Teeter is doing TRIPLE COUPONS AGAIN! Nothing could make a triplet mom happier then triple coupons :) I did triples great - Harris Teeter makes them even better by saving me that extra amount of money. Even though I'm not there to enjoy it I'm sending my hubby out to pick up a few cheap and free items that I can look forward to when I get back.

Thanks to Frugal in Virginia for listing a number of Harris Teeter triple coupons! I'll actually be mailing a few to Kirk so he can save even more at HT.



I also heard on Frugal in Virginia that Arby's is giving away something free every Wednesday. Check her blog for the details and check your local Arby's to see if they are participating.

At least that's what I've heard...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kirk's 1st Grocery Game Trip

I may be a tad obsessed with a good deal and saving money. I admit it. It's so bad that I'm e-mailing my husband with a list and asking him to go and pick up the best stuff at Harris Teeter. It helps that we continue to get coupons for $20 off $50 at the store - You just can't waste those!!

So, I just Kirk a list last night and asked him to go for me. I think he did pretty good!



Kirk spent $35.71 and he saved $76.42. Pretty good for learning over the phone :)

He was able to get himself a few breakfast items on sale and get some treats for the kids that are easily stored away until we return home in a few weeks.

Serious grocery savings so easy a.... :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week 1 Grocery Game with Mom

I signed my mom up for the Grocery Game :) You knew I would - I can't resist. And it's only $1 for 4 weeks so if she doesn't want to keep it when I leave FL then that's fine but at least I can save money while I'm here.

So, tonight I took my mom after gathering all my coupons and my list. She had a small list too and a few coupons.



Our combined total was $83.30
And we saved: $91.74

This included a box of diapers and my mom's full-priced items that she needed :)

Some of my best deals came because I could print coupons from coupon.com - you printed those too right?

Philadelphia Cream Cheese was on sale 4/$5.00 - I had 2 $1.00 off 2 coupons making my total 4 for $3.00!

Kraft BBQ sauce was on sale buy one get one free (at Publix this means I have to buy 2 unlike HT where it's 1/2 price for each item) - so sale price was 2 for $1.49 - I had 1 $1.00 off coupon and 1 $0.75 off coupon so it was a $0.25 moneymaker! No doubling here in FL - hate it!!

Kraft Mayo was also B1G1 free and I had 2 $1.00 off 1 coupons making it $2.00 for 2 or $1.00 each :)

Kraft Salad dressing was also B1G1 free so 2 for $2.99 and I had 2 $1.50 off coupons so I got 2 free!

And Publix was having a great cereal sale - buy 3 boxes of Kellogg's and get a gallon of milk free. Even better Kellogg's cereal was of on sale for $1.99 each and I had 2 (unfortunately not 3) $1.00 off coupons so for $3.98 I got 3 boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk for less then $4.00.

My mom spent $17.88 and saved $1.50
So my total spent was $65.42 and saved $90.24 - including those diapers!!!! And they were $16.49 - I was able to stack 2 coupons together - a Publix coupon and a manufacturers coupon to save $3.50.

There's the proof - it works here too! As always, I'm looking forward to next week :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Finding Freedom Friday: Frugal Flops



The question today is whether or not you have had any frugal flops along the way to becoming debt free.

At this point I'd say I'm still in the beginning stages - adjusting my lifestyle to be cash only, to stop spending when I'm supposed to, to use coupons to save money - so I'm sure my flops are many but I'll just list a few :)

1. Being coupon obsessed - not a bad thing but I do find myself wanting to go to the store for more sale stuff just because it's on sale. Sure I'm saving money then buying it full price but I'm also spending money that I might not need to spend - I'm still trying to work through my issues.

2. Not focusing on paying off my debt - I AM focusing on not putting more on, I AM focusing on paying cash and spending less but I'm not focusing as much on actually making a better dent it in what I owe. I'm not putting the extra money I find towards reducing the debt and I really need to work on this.

3. Not saving enough - that one explains itself - I'm trying I swear...

4. Still going to BJ's - I admit it I get hooked. I get a coupon for something there and I just must have 3 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios - I don't know why maybe they're calling my name :) But I know if I don't go I could cut $100 out of my monthly grocery budget and eat just fine yet I keep going. Somebody stop me!

5. Not getting rid of enough stuff - this kind of applies to #2 - I have stuff to sell and I've been lazy about doing it. Bad, bad, frugal mama! I could have money in and yet I'm not taking the time to do it.

As I write I think of more and the list could go on but I'll leave it at that. Have some you'd like to share? Leave a comment here or head over to Cents to Get Debt Free and bare your soul :) Isn't that what blogging is for anyway?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

100th Post - Fun Coupon Tips


I can't believe we've posted 100 times :) I've had a great time learning more about couponing and saving money - I hope you have too. The Grocery Game has been an invaluable tool. I really love not having to do the work and still save money.

Today I thought I'd share a few fun tips on couponing and hopefully you will find them helpful:

1. Always remember your coupons! Even if something isn't on sale but you need it and have a coupon you will save money.

2. Keep triplets (and other small children) away from coupons - I have lost some because of this and it wasn't a pretty sight :(

3. File your coupons away in the most convenient method for you - I file them uncut in an accordion folder - I don't cut them till I need them.

4. Once you need them and cut them out have a system for bringing them along to the store - I try to arrange my coupons in order that I will use them in the store - this saves me quite a bit of time and makes it easy to find my coupons. After I arrange them I put them in a yellow notebook I have in the pocket so I always no where to find them.

5. Have a place for your coupons once you find the item on the shelf - I put them in my left pocket as soon as I put the item in the cart - I NEVER wait or I will forget - do it immediately!

6. Make sure you empty your left pocket (or other storage place) completely when you get to the check-out. I have failed to do this and forgotten to hand over a coupon before - I was so disappointed that I have always remembered since.

7. Buy duplicates of the paper so you will have as many copies of the good coupons as you can - you won't regret this ever!

8. And this may make you a fanatical couponer (I know I am!) - check out blogs and lists and coupons sites before you go - plan, plan and plan again so you will have everything in place when you go. Go without kids when you can - they sure do ask for stuff that's not on the list :)

9. Give yourself a break - sometimes you forget a coupon, sometimes you just need something or want something - it's okay - it won't kill you (usually...)

What about you? Any tips you'd like to share?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Have You Signed Up?


I know I have mentioned Kraft Foods before and this is a great place to sign up for free recipes, their free magazine and lots of Kraft coupons. You have gone to coupons.com for your Kraft coupons right??

But have you signed up for Dinner Made Easy?

How about Betty Crocker?

Or Bisquick?

All of these are great places to go for coupons and recipes and sometimes you will even get free offers in your e-mail for things. Like yesterday I got an offer for a free Fridge Friend that will stick to my fridge and allow me to menu and grocery plan. Not bad just for giving them my e-mail! Plus, they have links to great coupons from Betty Crocker and I can always use more coupons :)

Also today ONLY get a FREE pack of hotdogs from Oscar Meyer.

Just head here and sign up.

If you're wondering I am back from CO - had a nice time and paid for everything with cash - that felt great! Even if it does mean my DH has to work tons of overtime to make up for it - kidding! I will be posting from FL for a few weeks so I won't have HT updates but I will be using the Grocery Game here with my mom in FL.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Consumer Review

One year ago Matt and I started using the "You Need a Budget" budgeting software. At first I was a frustrated skeptic. I just didn't want to let go of my Microsoft Money.

It didn't take long before I was completely sold though.

The premise of the software is to help you live on a monthly budget and NOT on what is in your checking account. The idea is that you no longer have to live "paycheck to paycheck." One of the first goals when using the software is to create what is called a "buffer." The buffer is one month's worth of expenses. You then use that buffer to pay your bills each month. As your paycheck arrives each week, it goes towards next month's "buffer."

You Need A Budget Pros
(taken from About.com)

Save time: Once You Need A Budget is set up, you only maintain and analyze your personal budget in total for about one hour per month.

Less stress: Because YNAB works on the principle of spending money you already earned and not money you will earn in the future, you will not experience overdrawn accounts or extreme personal budget deficits (you are not spending what you don't have).

Fluctuating income: Most budgeting software requires the person with fluctuating monthly income to enter an average income for each month. This doesn't give an accurate view of income, and paying bills will be difficult if income is unexpectedly low one month. Since YNAB only has you spending what you have already earned, dealing with fluctuating income is easier.

Rainy days: Save for unexpected expenses and expenses that occur less than once a year with YNAB, and not just your usual categorized expenses.

Ease of use: If you are familiar with Excel, using YNAB is a breeze. But even if you haven't used a spreadsheet before, YNAB has on screen explanations and directions for your data input and you can't get simpler than that. YNAB does all the number crunching behind the scenes formulas never interfere with beginner's experience.

User Support: You Need A Budget comes with a user manual in PDF format. This manual is comprehensive, yet only 11 pages long because YNAB is not complicated to use. The YNAB website has a good Frequently Asked Questions section and if you can't find an answer in the FAQs, click on "Ask a New Question" and enter your question with your email address to get a reply with an answer to your question. Another perk: the Articles section of the YNAB website offers software tips along with advice and thoughts on managing personal finances.

Guarantee: Use YNAB for up to 60 days. If you don't like it, you will get your money back.
Low cost: One-time cost of $19.95. The developer is currently does not charge for upgrades, so pay for YNAB once and you are free to re-download the product if needed and to download future upgrades.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Triplets!

Dorinda and Cherie can't come to the blog right now. Please leave and comment and they'll get back to you as soon as they can.No, seriously, it's me, Kristy. I'm just invading their blog to tell readers about some great deals this weekend. Shoppers Food Warehouse has been tripling coupons up to $0.99 for the past 3 days and tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day! I shopped last night and picked up many items for free or just pennies...items like Barilla pasta, No Yolks pasta, Hunts ketchup, Kraft dressing, French's mustard, and Lysol toilet cleaner to name a few! Check out this blog for an entire spreadsheet of deals!
Shoppers is not part of the grocery game, but I couldn't pass up these great deals. Target isn't part of the game either, but I recently came across this blog that gives coupon/sale match ups there. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan of the grocery game, but I'm still in the trial period...I have a lot to learn. This coupon stuff is tough on a scatterbrained mom! Anyway, enjoy the savings!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Deals At GYMBOREE


Looking for a great deal on kid's clothes? Head on over to GYMBOREE - you know I love that store but right now the deals are unbeatable! Some tees and shorts are priced at just $7.99!

But the deal gets better - enter coupon code CFFRIEND now through Sunday May 17th and get 30% off your entire order.

PLUS, if you spend $50 or more you will earn $25 in Gymbucks! You will earn one $25 Gymbuck for every $50 you spend. You can redeem Gymbucks from Juy 16th, 2009 to July 26th, 2009. Your Gymbuck allows you to take $25 off every $50 you spend even on sale priced items.

Couldn't be a better time to buy. So great in fact that I just had to blog about it from my hotel room in Colorado. Don't miss out :) Buy cheap and then next year you could at least sell your clothes at cost - can't beat that at a consignment sale.

Photo from Gymboree.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coupons.com

We made it to Florida! And we made it successfully on just $70. Not bad, huh? Especially since I completely forgot my free lunch coupons. Would've been $10 less if I had remembered those but it didn't matter as much as I thought. We did fine since we cut out eating breakfast out and instead ate in the car. Saved a bunch!

Now I'm in Florida till tomorrow when my husband and I fly to Colorado. Cherie will be posting the rest of the week because I will be officially on vacation starting tomorrow but I had to get on today and make sure you're heading over to coupons.com for your printable coupons.

Check today for brand new awesome coupons on Kraft food items! Lots of great coupons :)



I am out of my element here. I don't have my files of coupons but I know I can jump on coupons.com and print out helpful coupons. Unfortunately, Florida does not allow stores to double coupons - how awful is that??! So, I will have to learn that $0.35 off really means just $0.35 off. Aaaagh!

But even with that I was able to buy a cartful of groceries at Publix using coupons for $58.18 and I saved $45.14.

Not fabulous for me and I'll do better as I get used to being here and maybe I'll not have to buy less then 6 gallons of milk in future weeks - at $2.89 a gallon that was $17.34 of my total and there's no coupons for that - I did get a good deal on cereal which was buy one get one free and I had a $1.00 off each box. Should be enough for the kids for a while.

That's all for now! Cherie will bring more great posts later and next week I will begin using the Grocery Game here and hopefully I'll save even more money then I did on my own today (with help of www.thecouponmom.com)

And if you're wondering, I actually got a scholarship for my writer's conference in Colorado - I just had to pay my way to get there so yes, I'm saving money everywhere and the Lord has been good to provide.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tips for Saving Money At CVS

Hello readers!
Remember me?
I'm going to do my best to post frequently while Dorinda's away on vacation.

Today I'm going to share some tips about shopping at CVS. My best advice is to start small. The more you do it, the more you'll get the hang of it. Feel free to leave a comment or question, and I'll do my best to answer them!


What is an ECB?

ECB stands for Extra Care Bucks. When reading the weekly CVS add, you will see that some items reward you with ECBS upon purchase.

For example:

Colgate Toothpaste is listed as $2.99 with $2 ECBs. You still have to pay $2.99 but you will get a printed receipt with 2 ECBs on it. You can then use that receipt like a gift card towards any future purchase. Yes, you still have to pay $2.99 for the toothpaste. But if you have coupons, you pay even less and you still get $2 back in store credit.

You can also use several ECB receipts at one transaction. Toothpaste is often a great deal at CVS. There are almost always coupons available.



What does it mean to "roll" your ECBs?


"This is the term for using ECBs earned on a previous promotion to pay for another promotion that earns ECBs. It minimizes the amount that you have to spend out of pocket for the promotions.

EX:
Buy 1 Alka-Seltzer at $3, get $3 ECB, no limit

Transaction #1: buy 3 A-S, total will be $9.
Use coupons (3 x $1/1 mfr and 1 CVS Alka-Seltzer coupon) to bring total down to $5. Pay.
A $9 ECB will print.

Transaction #2: Go back, buy 3 more A-S and use another $4 of coupons, total is $5. Add some other stuff to bring total to $9.
Pay with your first $9 ECB. Then, another $9 ECB prints.

Rinse and repeat!

All of the purchases of one product in one transaction will be combined into a single ECB. For example, if you buy 10 Alka-Seltzer in the same transaction, each of which will earn $3 ECB, you would get one $30 ECB. People who buy large quantities of a particular deal in a single transaction get larger ECBs."

(taken from www.hotcouponworld.com)

Take advantage of the "Buy $xxx worth of _____, get $xxx ECB" promotions!


You will see that CVS will often run ECB promotions where if you buy $xxx worth of a said brand (ie. Oil of Olay, Panteene, Colgate, etc.), you will get $xxx back in ECB. The total amount is BEFORE your manufacturers coupons. So, if there is a brand/product that you like, take advantage of the promotion by using as many manufacturers coupons as possible. Then watch your ECBs rack up!


Be nice to the cashier!
Get to know your local CVS cashiers. Be patient. I can't tell you how many times the cashier has helped me save more by giving me coupons!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Traveling Cheap


This is basically all I will see tomorrow. I have to agree with the photographer's comment that the drive from VA to FL is basically this dull. It's an incredibly long road but at least we don't get lost!

While driving is certainly cheaper then flying there are still expenses. Like gas - who budgets for filling up their car three times in one day? Or food - eating out 3 times in one day!

Rarely are these types of expenses avoidable but this time around I am determined to spend $100 or less to get all the way to FL with 5 kids.

Sound impossible? I've done a little bit of planning to make it so:

1. $50 in gas cards from the Harris Teeter promotion - a whole tank free!

2. $25 in gas cards from my bank after redeeming some rewards points - love this! For every 3,000 points I can get a $25 gift card and since this is not a credit card I never have to worry about not paying it off - free money :)

3. Bought the kids breakfast at the store using $10 store coupon - free muffins.

4. Printed my KFC coupons which means a free meal for both Kirk and I at lunch or dinner leaving us with one full price meal for the day.

Only having to purchase 1 tank of gas (already budgeted) and minimal food should help me reach my goal.

This is good for me - it really is! Last trip I didn't give the cost of the trip a second thought. This time around I'm thinking carefully as to what I spend and on what I spend it on. After all, the less I spend while on the road the more I have to spend while on vacation!

And speaking of that I will be offline for a few days as I travel to FL and then to CO for a writer's conference.

Cherie has promised she will post in my absence so look forward to her posts next week and when I get back to FL from CO (confusing right?) I will be introducing my mom to the Grocery Game and spending less to feed me, my kids and my parents!! Looking forward to challenge - stay tuned...

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Specials Today!

There seem to be a few specials going on today so I figured I'd go ahead and share so you don't miss out. Maybe you've already heard from a few others blogs but if not check these out.

Free tea at Arby's today ONLY! Check out:

Frugal in Virginia for details.

And KFC is giving away free meals as well - you can print a good two to four coupons per printer if you go back. I'm out of paper so I don't know for 100% sure yet but trust me I'm buying paper to print my coupons today!!

Check out:

Moneywise Moms for details

Enjoy all the free food and let me know if you hear of more!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stamp Out Hunger

I Support Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive — May 9th, 2009


This Saturday is Stamp Out Hunger day. First contact your local post office to see if they are participating. If they are leave a bag of non-perishable, unexpired (no glass jars) next to your mailbox and your mail carrier will pick it up and deliver it to a local food bank. I love when places come to me :) I hope you will participate!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Safeway Trip - Again With The Issues

I think the Safeway blinkie machine hates me - it really does. Why do my coupons not print? By a major miracle I received my $10 and $2 coupon from my transaction last week. The Catalina people were very nice and agreed that I should have received my coupon. I was hoping against hope that it would print this time. Apparantly I should have followed a readers advice and returned my items and gotten my coupons back.

Doesn't matter - the promotion ends tomorrow and I got basically all that I wanted that I had coupons for. Of course, I can always use more free stuff but I guess everything else will have to wait.

Here's what I got:



I spent: $8.84
And saved: $30.45

I should've received a $10 coupon and I thought I would also get $2 off my chocolate purchase but that didn't happen either - aagh! It's possible that that promotion was not running in my area but still the chocolate should have qualified for the LWFG promotion. Hopefully I did qualify and then Kirk will have $10 worth of free groceries while I am gone to FL. I still have to feed him after all :)

And they were out of Deer Park water - I had a rough night!!

Coupons used:

Hershey's dark - $1.00 off one (S 4/19)
Ronzoni Smart Taste - $1.00 off two (S 4/5)
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes - $1.00 off one (S 4/26)
Softsoap Body Wash - $0.75 off one (doubled to $1.50) from here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coupons Make The Difference

There are many days that I wonder if coupons are making a difference in my actual total. I mean, I buy a lot of things on sale and it's sometimes hard to tell what my coupon savings are versus my VIC card savings. It says on my receipt I know but still I wonder if it makes a difference.

Well, tonight I am quite sure that the coupons saved me a lot! Of course, triple coupons do help quite a bit. Tonight my VIC savings was only $29.49 - not bad and a year ago, even six months ago that would have been acceptable but not anymore.

Here's what I got:



I spent: $37.15
And saved: $88.89 - and even if you're not a math geek you can clearly see that's more then twice my VIC savings so using coupons I took an additional $51.74 off my bill! I used a $20 store coupon and the rest was manufacturers coupons - some $1.00 off and other triple coupons. The point is with just a little bit of coupon clipping I saved more then $30!

Ortega products were my best deals - using six $0.75 off two coupons from S 4/19 that tripled making the salsa $0.75 for 2 and the refried beans and seasoning mix free! I do like free :)

Kellogg's cereal was also a great deal - they were buy one get one free - normally $3.65 a box - down to $1.83 a box - I then used $1.00 off each box coupons from coupons.com making each box $0.83! Sweet - even if I do have a lot of cereal already.

I also used triple coupons on kids yogurt - we go through quite a bit of it so even if it wasn't on sale it was still a good deal!

Want to be inspired even more?

Check this blog out - just proof I have even more savings work to do to feed my large family!


I Am A Money Magnet Button


Check out her savings and spending on her side bar - it's amazing! Maybe by the end of the year I'll have that figured out and do even better :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thoughts From A Grocery Game Newbie

Given my fabolous results using the Grocery Game and the true ease of following her list as opposed to scouring blogs or doing it myself I have been thrilled to share my news and savings with you and of course, my good friends!

One friend signed up right away and has been saving ever since but another friend was much more skeptical. Neither of them has triplets but my friend, Kristy gets about as close as a person with singletons can get! Her oldest son turns 3 at the end of this month, her 2nd son is 1 1/2 and her third son was born at just over 28 weeks last December. After 67 days in the NICU he is home and thriving.

Now that Kristy can once again leave the house (she's been confined at home during RSV season) she has decided to take the Grocery Game plunge.

Here are her thoughts:

I never knew what I was missing. My friends Joanna and Dorinda have spent nearly a year talking about this grocery game nonsense and I always dismissed it.

My excuses: I don't have time to mess with it. I do use coupons occasionally. I do buy what's on sale. I''m not afraid of generic brand food. I'm on a very tight budget so I can't be using my grocery cash on "stockpiling" food. I need food for meals each week! (By the way, I HIGHLY recommend using a cash system to stay on budget...)

Then I tried it.

I'm hooked.

First time: I spent $26.95 and I saved $53.93.
Second time: I spent $36.15 and I saved $66.85.

It was amazing (and a bit nerve wracking) to watch my total go up around $100 and then with every bleep of the scanner it went right back down. I left with an almost nervous giddiness. Did I really just get away with that?

So, I'm still no pro, but I'm learning a few things as a beginner:

1. Concentrate. Let's face it, I've got major mommy-brain. I can't take any of my kids with me and I have to take my time. I've always been one to go to the store and stick to my list and track what I'm spending, but reading the fine print on the grocery shelf and the coupons takes a little extra brain power.

2. Be flexible. The store may be out of stock on a sale item (yay for rainchecks). So, I need some wiggle room in my meal plan (stockpiling will help this). Also, my coupon or my local store's sale may not be for the same amount as the list says, so I can't plan to the exact dollar.

3. Be patient. It's hard to check the list and see a great deal that I can't have. What I mean is I've only been gathering coupons for a few weeks, so when the list says to use a coupon from March 5th, I just have to skip over it. I also have a long way to go before I am stocked up. I don't have a single juice box in my house right now. But just ask Dorinda how many she has...and what's better--ask her how much she spent on them!

Now, if I could just figure out how to get some more Enfamil coupons...


For more on Kristy's life with 3 boys under 3 visit: The Shepherd Times

Friday, May 1, 2009

Finding Freedom Friday and Month End Recap

Since Finding Freedom Friday is about our 2009 goals I figured I'd just combine the two into one.



How did the month of April go for you?

I think I didn't do as great this month as last. No credit card usage which is great but I do think we overspent in categories and May will be just as hard with lots of traveling.

Goals for 2009 were:

1. Spend $100 or less on groceries. I didn't pay attention as much on a weekly basis but kept track for the month. I did go a tad over in the grocery budget - budget is $500 - spent $517 including a BJ's trip. Lots of coupons kept bringing me back! I had planned to only go to HT for the month but couldn't resist the Safeway deals.

Side note on Safeway - talked to corporate and I was supposed to have gotten $12 back on my last trip - they are mailing me my coupons but they won't arrive in time for me to use them on the current promotion so I can either go back and start over or just move on and let it go :) Mostly depends on how well I do with triple coupons at HT.

Side note on HT - thanks to a reader I was alerted that Teri put the list up early at the Grocery Game so head over there before you head to HT. She did promise to put up an updated list on Sunday. Since we're heading out of town soon for a while I need less and will just focus on the best deals.

2. Pay $10 or less for dinner. Again I didn't pay as much attention this month because I didn't have to buy much for my dinners. One week only $4 of my weekly grocery budget went to making my actual dinner so that was slightly harder to calculate. Basically I'd say this goal is met since I have so much stocked up cheaply that I'm really not paying much at all for meals.

3. Pay down debt. Still working on it - essentially not adding to it is the best way to pay it down! Paying for my writing trip to Colorado in cash - it's been tough but the Lord has provided the funds in multiple ways and that has been so cool. Once I get back from my long trip I will begin selling off stuff to pay more off. The big key is not to get in any more debt while I'm gone!

4. Continue to buy brand name clothes but pay cash. Still doing this! I'm also finding that lots of places are more expensive then Gymboree - the coupons and deals there are too good to pass up. I did find a few good deals at a consignment sale this month - got a brand new Gymboree shirt for Caleb for $4 but otherwise great deals there have been hard to come by. Instead I'll be using the money made on my own sales to buy clothes from Gymboree. Using stuff I have to buy the stuff I need is the best kind of recycling around!

5. No more credit cards. Check!

I hope you have a wonderful May and come out financially stronger then you went in! The beauty of the changing months is like the changing years - you can start over - wipe the slate clean.

I'd say the number one thing that keeps me going is that if I screw up today doesn't mean I've screwed up forever. I can start over and that's okay. What's not okay is falling off the wagon completely.