Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Final Results Are In

If you are a regular blog reader, then you know that I recently sat down and took a good long look at my finances. I decided that I really needed to get a handle on my spending habits. I have decided that it is very difficult to make it in the modern world on one income. Even if you go to college. For three years. I am not ashamed to talk about this because I make good money. I don't make wonderful money. But it could be worse. About a year and a half ago, I got a big raise. A two hundred dollar a week raise. Even though I hadn't gotten my degree yet. My employer knew I was working on it. We didn't dramatically upgrade our standard of living as a good deal of people do when they get a raise. I didn't buy a new car. I didn't add 200 channels to our cable. I didn't change anything.

At that time, I really thought this big raise was going to be life changing. However, when it was all said and done it didn't. It allowed me to do a few more things than I had been doing before. Since that time, the walls have slowly started closing in on me. Gas prices went up, my daughter started driving, you know, life happens.

I have been on a mission for about a month now to spend my money more wisely. I saw a rerun of 'Jon & Kate Plus Eight'. In this episode, Kate revealed that she is able to feed her family of ten for around 150 bucks per week. INSANITY I tell you. I am spending about 100 bucks a week to FEED THREE PEOPLE!!!!!! What is wrong with this picture? I thought to myself that I really need to see if there is any way I could save some money on food. Why? She is a nurse after all. While I have a friggin accounting degree! Also because unfortunately, my contacts at the oil companies are not returning any of my phone calls requesting that they lower gas prices. I find myself unable to ditch the cable or internet either. If I let those go, then what do I have I ask you? They are the poor man's entertainment. (Or woman)

I had never really gotten serious about saving on groceries before. I have gotten better at it in the last month. See, I don't think it ever occurred to my mom to teach us kids about saving money. I am not casting blame, just stating facts. Which means I have had to teach myself. I started by getting a Sunday paper and clipping coupons for anything that I use. I am smart enough not use coupons just because I have one. If I see a coupon for something I don't use, I don't clip it. I started making a grocery list and planning meals. These might seem like simple things to some of you pros out there, but keep in mind my humble background and complete ignorance. Then I took it a step further and even began including the snacks that I will purchase for any given week. Will I buy yogurt this week? Fruit? Snack cakes? You get the idea. I also try not to buy the exact same things every week. This way, we won't get burnt out on our favorite snacks.

I make a game out of trying to stick to my list and stay within the budget. My original plan was to try to shave 10 bucks off our grocery bill. A couple of weeks I had to shave even more. By giving myself a realistic goal, I wouldn't be disappointed. I actually discovered that sometimes the coupons are not worthwhile. I had a coupon for one product and when I got to the store, another company had the same product for less. Even with the coupon. I didn't use the coupon, I bought the other brand and saved even more money. I have been going through this process for about 4 weeks now. Imagine my horror when last Sunday there were NO coupons in the paper. I was so upset I marched right back to the store where I purchased the newspaper. I went in and yanked a paper from the rack, went completely through the newspaper and realized that none of the papers had any coupons in them. I was devastated. This from a woman who until a few weeks ago, had NEVER clipped a coupon in her life!

This week I had a coupon for my beloved Scrubbing Bubbles(I used an entire can between the two bathrooms this week) some frozen veggies, hand soap, body wash, yogurt. I was so excited. Clipping coupons is really starting to make a difference. Every Sunday I buy a paper, go home and make my list. Then I clip my new coupons and pull the ones from previous weeks that I haven't used yet. I pull out all the coupons that I will be able to use for the current week. The final result as of this week is that I am averaging about 75 per week on groceries! That is even better than my original goal. That includes healthy foods and snacks and the items needed for me to pack my lunch and Melissa's. We are not having to go without anything. Since I started really paying attention to the cost of things, I notice when there is a price increase. I noticed this week that milk was 20 cents higher this week than it was last week. Now the only remaining question is......what to do with my savings?


HW said...

How can they put a Sunday paper out without coupons?

You need to check out this website If that doesn't work, google "Jon and Kate plus eight." Somewhere on there, Kate talks about her grocery bill. It is NOT $150 as that episode portrayed. She spent that much at one store. She admits that she spends closer to $600. There. Don't you feel better?

Good for you for using coupons. I quit using them, because I usually find that I can find the store brand items cheaper, even considering the coupons. I think it's really great that you are noticing a difference in your spending habits.

My parents never taught me about budgeting either. It is something I've had to learn as I go; and am still working on it. In fact, my mom often asks me for money.

Susiewearsthepants said...

I was some Easter Sunday No Coupon Day or something. That or this particular store pulled out all the coupons for themselves.

mer said...

Hey there...thanks for stopping by my blog!

I've been a coupon clipper for a very long time, and on holiday weekends (Easter, etc) there aren't coupon inserts in the paper. Weird, but true.

Also, I wanted to refer you to a site that I use to help me match my coupons with store sales. I think that's an old link, but it should redirect you. You'll have to register (free) but then you can select coupon deals by state. For example, I can select Safeway stores in Colorado and the page will tell me what's on sale at Safeway that week and what coupons are out there (which insert and when they were issued) and it does all the bargain hunting work so that you can just go in and get the deals. I think it's like the grocery game, but I'm too cheap to pay for something I can do on my own for free.

Oh, and I have a family of five and lately, I've gotten my food bill down to about $150/week which I think is pretty good considering I buy a lot of organic stuff and we eat a lot of meat.

Let me know if you have any questions. There are lots of coupon/money saving/grocery saving blogs out there!

Susiewearsthepants said...

mer-Thanks for the tip. I need all the help I can get!

K said...

Good jog with the budget. I learned a decent amount about budgetting over the years. I am a saver for sure. I don't have any kids or husband to support yet but I'm hoping I'll adjust to that fairly easily when the time comes.
Also, you mentioned that you didn't learn how to budget well from your parents. Are you actively trying to teach your children how to budget?

Susiewearsthepants said...

K-Yes I am. I have included them in my coupon clipping. Because I am a single parent, it's very important for me to save as much as I can. When we go clothes shopping, the girls look at the regular price, and see what the sale price is. My younger daughter is excellent at this. They both want to get the most out of their shopping money.