I love the stories I get from people sharing their hauls, stories and ways they’ve saved on everything from toilet paper to date nights! Here’s another story where someone has created a price book – which can really help you find know when it really is the best deal available!
In December, 2010, I spent $559 on a category I keep in Quicken called ‘food and household’. It includes all groceries, toiletries, paper products, personal care products, laundry and cleaning supplies, etc. for 3 ½ adults. ( I say 3 ½ because my college-aged daughter goes to school about 25 miles from home, so she’s home a fair amount – especially in December – and she also takes items back to school with her.)
Now, I know that there are families that spend much, much less than that each month, but the amount was still significant to me because it represents about 55% of what I normally spend on those things by just buying what I need each week and tossing things into my cart. My goal for 2011 is to keep my food and household expenses to as close to $500/month as I can. That will represent hundreds of dollars of savings each month that can be applied to debt reduction and then other financial goals.
I discovered that there is a learning curve associated with slashing your grocery budget in this way. And it takes a fair amount of time as well, although not nearly as much as some people assume. Here’s what I did to cut my grocery bill by 45% in just one month’s time:
I used coupons. I cut coupons from my Sunday paper and printed coupons from sites like Coupons.com, Target.com, and Swagbucks as well.
1. I followed prices. This is where a price book really comes in handy. Mine was a few years out of date so I spent the month updating it as I shopped. In case you are wondering, food prices have gone up a LOT in those few years. It was kind of eye-opening.
2. I shopped sales, especially loss leaders. When my price book told me that something we normally eat (or would be willing to eat) was a really good sale, I stocked up.
3. I combined strategies. The way to really, really save big on groceries, is to combine a sale with a coupon or even two. Here are some ways I’ve done that this month:
- Target sale + Target coupon + manufacturer’s coupon: The stars don’t often align up this way, but when they do you can get some really good deals since Target will let you apply one of their store coupons plus a manufacturer’s coupon to an item. And if it’s also an item on sale it’s a trifecta!
- Store sale plus double coupons: One of my local grocery stores doubles coupons up to 50 cents so when they have a sale on something and I have a coupon that can be doubled, the price is usually great. I was able to get free Lunchables and 29 cent Cool Whip for the holidays this way.
- Combining a low price store with a coupon. In my area, Walmart usually has rock bottom prices so if I use a coupon there in addition, I’m saving significantly. Also, my price booktells me that the very best prices I got this month were by buying at Costco and using a Costco coupon from the coupon books they mail out. This month I bought spaghetti sauce, Cheez-its, Dove soap, peanut butter, and Kleenex at rock bottom prices this way.
Saving on groceries is my main money saving focus for the year. I feel strongly that my family – and probably most families – can create a significant financial margin by utilizing smart strategies when shopping for food and other necessities. The basics are not hard, although I’m still working out a system that will work for me. And I look forward to building a stockpile of staples that will help me save even more.
Julie shares her money savings strategies on her site, The Family CEO. Her blog is dedicated to helping families save money, get out of debt, and just live a more simplified life!
|Do you have a great story about how you were able to save extra money this holiday, or how you saved to pay cash for your new refrigerator or even a nice haul at your favorite store this week? If so, you might be our next featured Penny Pinchin’ Pro! Head here for more details on how to submit your money saving story.|