Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spending Goals: Right on Budget, For a Change, or not....

I typically do my shopping on Friday, which coincides with the start of our budget week.  Our current budget month started on 3/25, so this past Friday (4/9) began the third week of the month.  Amazingly, (if I don't buy anything else between now and next Friday - yeah right) we will be right on budget.  This is particularly amazing since this month our diets changed and it's just a tad bit more expensive to buy a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, but not nearly as expensive as my husband thought.  He wanted to raise the grocery budget to accommodate.  I wanted to prove we could eat healthy and stay within our current budget of $50/week.  So far, so good.

  • 03/25 - Publix - Paid $20.05 for $49.82 in groceries (61% Savings)
  • 03/25 - Rite Aid - Paid $4.04 for $75.12 in grocery & drugstore items (96% Savings)
  • 03/25 - CVS - Paid $1.44 for $38.19 in grocery & drugstore items (99% Savings)
  • 03/26 - Publix - Paid $4.21 for $4.39 in groceries (9% savings)
  • 03/31 - Walgreens - Paid $4.19 for $17.68 in grocery & drugstore items (81% savings)
  • 03/31 - Rite Aid - Paid $4.15 for $32.90 in grocery & drugstore items (92% savings)
  • 03/31 - CVS - Paid $4.60 for $27.87 in grocery & drugstore items (88% savings)
  • 03/31 - Publix - Paid $41.73 for $77.35 in groceries (50% savings)
  • 04/01 - CostCo - Paid $9.48 for groceries
  • 04/09 - Rite Aid - Paid $3.64 for $32.96 in grocery & drugstore items (91% savings)
  • 04/09 - CVS - Paid $1.97 for $10.77 in groceries (86% savings)
  • 04/09 - Publix - Paid $44.83 for $103.89 in groceries (60% savings)
  • 04/09 - CostCo - Paid $5.39 for groceries
We've been hitting CostCo a bit more lately because of their prices on produce, mainly tomatoes and salad mix.  It's hard to determine the actual savings on things like that, I just know that it's a lot cheaper to buy these items there than it would be at Publix.

As I was writing this out, I remembered there was one more trip that I made yesterday, that put me over budget.  I hit Kroger for a few items (mostly frozen veggies for $.87 / bag) and spent about $20.  I need to track down that receipt, which I believe is in the freezer (don't ask).

The Savings Tracker

I was showing this to my friend Katie the other day and wanted to repost it so she could grab the program, and also share it so that anyone else who hasn't downloaded it can get it.

The Coupon Project shared this FREE Savings Tracker at the beginning of the year, and I love it. I use it to enter in each one of my shopping trips and see how much I've saved. I also use it to track how much I've spent (which is as important, if not more important).  We can save money all year long but if we aren't staying within our budget goals, it really doesn't matter.

Get the Savings Tracker from The Coupon Project here.

Rite Aid Trip 04/09 - Recycling +UPs

Thinking back to a time when I actually paid close to $4 for a razor head just kills me.   Now, I have quite the stockpile of razor heads never paying more than $1 for them.  Ah, the love of coupons!

2 Fusion Proglide razors @ $9.99 each
2 boxes FiberPlus bars @ 2/$5

- $5 Fusion coupons (from have you tried this yet mailer)
- $3 Fusion coupon (from 4/3 insert)
- $1/2 FiberPlus bars
- $3/$15 survey coupon
- $10 Wellness Plus +UP reward

= $3.64 (after tax), PLUS I got $10+UPs for buying the razors (basically recycling my +UPs that were about to expire)

04-09 CVS Trip - Cereal Killer Deal

This was one of those weeks where my shopping list was really kind of vague.  There were a couple of things on the list but it was more a "check it and see if it's really a deal when you get there" kind of list.  I almost walked out with nothing until I went to look at the cereal section and saw a deal I'd somehow missed in the ad.

Special K 3/$10, get a $4ECB wyb 3

It just so happens that Special K is my cereal of choice and with the recent changes to our eating habits, cereal is now something I'm trying to stock up on (we had 0 boxes a month ago).  $3/$10 was not a good price, IMO, but 3/$6 (after the ECB) was decent.  The $2/3 coupon I had in my coupon box made it even better, as did the $6.50 worth of ECBs that the Magic Coupon Machine printed out, unexpectedly (seasonal ECB and Beauty bonus).

In the end, I paid $1.97 OOP (after tax) and got back $5 in ECB (thanks to green bag tag reward).

I'd say that's a good deal on cereal! What do you think?

Ways to Save on Wedding Gifts

With wedding season upon us, that can mean lots of gifts to buy, and those gifts can really add up.  I thought I would share my thoughts on wedding gift ideas that won't break your budget.

1. - keep an eye on this daily deal site as they often have houseware items that would make great gifts.  You can check their "upcoming deals" to know what deals to expect in the next week.  You'll find anything from entire sets of cutlery, china, spice racks and other specialty gift ideas.

2. Shop Their Registry - Just because they registered at a particular store, doesn't mean you have to buy it there.  Most stores now have their registries available online, look up the couple's registry then shop the items online to find a better deal.

3. Get Creative - Whether a couple has been on their own for a while or not, if they are moving into a new home they will need all the cleaning basics in one accessible place.  Start with finding a good deal on a laundry basket, hamper or trash can.  Then fill it with basic cleaning essentials that they will want as they get moved into their new home, a broom, window cleaner, floor cleaner, oven cleaner, a swiffer duster, etc. Most of these items you have coupons for already and can get a good deal on, or....

4. Use Your Stockpile - chances are you have most of the items I mentioned above in your stockpile already.  Pull from there to get them started.

5. Shop Online and Get Cashback - use sites like Ebates or Shortcuts to shop for gifts online and get cash back on your purchase.  These sites also offer special discount codes for many sites, allowing you to get a discount or free shipping and get cash back on your order at the same time.  Combine this with idea # 2 for better savings.

6. Make a Gift - if you are the creative type, then giving the new couple something from your heart will not only save you money but will probably mean a lot more to them in the long run.  While we didn't have a big wedding and didn't get a lot of gifts, the gift that will always mean the most to me is a collage of our wedding done by my best friend.  Whatever your creative method of choice, giving from the heart really does have an impact.

You're One of Those Coupon Ladies

Yesterday, on my way into Publix I saw a lady who had just finished loading her car. I asked if I could take her buggy for her. She said "Sure", then looking at me commented, with a smile, "You're one of those coupon ladies!".

"Yes, Yes I am". Although, I'm not sure what gave me away. Some people see my little coupon box and instantly think coupons, others look at it and think it's a purse. Either way, I do get lots of compliments on it.

The cashier, yesterday, also properly identified it, commented that she loved it because of the zebra print. It only took me 3 months of couponing to finally find a system that worked for me and I do still love it. There are times I wish it had a few more dividers and when I buy another one I may label it a bit differently, if only because our shopping habits have changed a little bit. After 4 months of use it's starting to wear out a little bit on the inside, small tears here and there. But, I will carry my little zebra coupon box as long as I can. Then I'll grab another 40% Off coupon for Hobby Lobby and go buy another one for $6.