The rising costs of living, the lack of growth in M’s job industry, and a long list of much wanted (and a few needed) home improvement projects have M and I looking for ways to “tighten our belts” and spend less.
A quick look at our family budget reveals that we are spending $75.00 to $100.00 a week on groceries. As a family of 3, the grocery budget seemed extremely high, and so I began looking for ways to cut the costs.
Turning to my trusty friend Google, I soon found a plethora of sites promoting “Couponing” as the way to reduce the grocery budget.
Moreover, Facebook was swamped with everyone sharing their great deals – people are buying 5, 6, even 10 newspapers just for the coupons. The deals looked great, so I dug deeper.
My research reveled that there are deals to be had by couponing. But many of the deals were for items that M and I don’t like, don’t use, or simply don’t want in our home. I thought couponing would not work for me – until M suggested that I “use what you can and forget the rest.”
I took his advice to heart, channeled my inner nerd, and created a coupon plan that works for me. I began by creating a list of all the items that are staples in our home – from the food we eat, to our toiletries. This list was put into an Excel spreadsheet where I added
columns to record the cost of each item at the 4 main stores in our hometown. To get the non-sale price for each item, I went to the stores with pen and paper in hand and wrote out the prices. (Yes, I got weird looks but I was okay with it). Once I had all of the data
input, I could then run a few formulas to calculate if the sale price of the item was really a good deal.
Next, I divided our grocery budget into 3 categories: Items for weekly menu, Staples, and Stockpile. For example, our menu this week includes steak fajitas, smothered chicken, and turkey burgers. A quick check of my fridge and pantry reveled that I need steak and chicken breasts to complete my weekly menu, so those items were put on my shopping list. Next, I saw that we were nearly out of milk, yogurt, romaine lettuce, and
cheese – items that we consider staples in our home – so those were added to the list. I then sat down with my sales papers, and the trusty Excel spreadsheet, to figure out which stores would give me the best deals. I quickly saw that ribeye steaks were on sale for $1.99 a pound and chicken breasts were on sale for $1.69 a pound. I roughly allocated a
third of our current grocery budget for the menu items, so I had $25.00 to purchase the meat. I spent $13.00 on steak (6.5 pounds) and $11 on chicken (6.5 pounds). Next, my food staples cost me $22.00. Assuming I was willing to spend the entire budgeted $75.00 – I was left with $29.00 to spend. My local grocery store had pork tenderloin on sale for
$2.50 a pound, so I purchased 5 pounds to put in my freezer. In total, I spent $58.00.
While the savings was not as tremendous as it could have been, I did save money. More importantly, I only purchased things I know I needed and would use. I am hoping that over time more of my budget can be devoted to stockpiling rather than purchasing to cook weekly meals.
So that’s how I am “couponing”? Do you coupon? If so, do you have any tips/tricks for? What about general budget cutting ideas?