Saving money, hating coupons and an important tip!

Couponing is the worst. Yup, I said it. More on this later!

Instead of trying and failing to document every cent I spend, I decided to work on reducing our grocery and food expenses for the month of September. This decision came after several days of not blogging and thinking about chucking the whole “No Spend September” challenge. But then I remembered that being on #teambroke is not fun and that I really need to get the spending under control. The challenge is now going to focus on a few key areas including reducing our monthly spending on food and groceries.

First, I decided to change my grocery buying habits. I normally pick up the majority of my groceries at a small grocery franchise called Fresh and Easy. It’s the cutest, most convenient store by my house! However, they seem to be a little more expensive than others and do not take coupons at all. Then I’d head over to Whole Foods for my son food since he is on a ridiculous vegan, gluten-free and soy-free diet due to allergies. Afterwards, I finish off at either Sprouts or/and Trader Joe’s for mostly the meat products we like. This month, I am trying to get most of my groceries from Target. As a red card member, I get an automatic 5% discount on all purchases. Target takes manufacture’s coupons, offers its own coupons, has a savings app called Cartwheel and can be used with several online saving apps. I also love shopping at Target. Channeling my overwhelming desire to shop at Target to food purchases makes perfect sense!

Second, I am going to try to earn cash through apps including Ibotta, Saving Start, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon. Bloggers seem to rave about these apps and review them highly (with affiliated links of course!). If I can make $20 or so this month from these apps, I’ll proclaim success in this area.

Third, I am going to eat leftovers and random items that have been sitting in my pantry/freezer for months. Although I wish to take my family along with me into the kingdom of leftovers, I fear I will be on this journey alone. I promise not to eat anything that has gone bad or expired.

Lastly, I am trying my hand again at couponing. I hate it. Honestly using coupons stresses me out. I always feel like I am spending more money just to get a few cents off. I am terrible at matching store coupons and manufacture’s coupons. I get personally insulted when the cashiers scrutinize my printed coupons. But, I am going to do it for September and see what happens. My first attempt was yesterday. Trying to organize all my coupons and saving apps and managing my 5 year’s son mini-melt down apparently was more than I could handle. When I returned home and started scanning my receipts, I noticed that gum was not an item on my list. I had a strong recollection of picking up gum to buy, but figured that I had left it in the shopping cart. This morning as I prepared to tackle Whole Foods, I noticed a pack of gum in my purse. I reviewed my receipts again. No gum on my receipt. Great! In my attempts to use all of the correct coupons, manage my son and check out, I must have inadvertently put the gum in my purse! Because my mom raised me right, I went back to Target this morning and paid for the gum. I think the cashier thought I was a bit crazy as she said, “You owe a whole $.93!” Whatever, I can enjoy my gum with a clear conscious!

Tip for the day: Don’t accidentally steal!

For real, what are your money saving tips for groceries because I clearly need it?

The Girl and Her Store Credit

It is amazing how many useless items I buy that just become clutter. As I have been cleaning, I am starting to notice how many toys, books, clothes and other objects that I just “had” to have. These things are simply adding stress to my life as they take up space, require maintenance and becoming an general reminder of my over-spending issue. Last week, I started to wonder how many items could I return for store credit. It turns out that the cashiers will give you the side eye and general attitude as they document you for potential stealing and then returning of items. However, once its done and you appear to be an honest human being, they fork over a giftcard for store credit or even cash!  Here’s a list of what I was able to get thus far:

  1. Lakestore Learning – $18.94
  2. Staples – $6.46
  3. Ross – $8.07
  4. Fry’s Grocery Store – $3.76
  5. Hobby Lobby – $13.69 cash!

I only had one item rejected as the store no longer carried that item. Not bad for items that were just sitting around the house collecting dust! The best news is that the value of the store credit doesn’t expire so I have plenty of time to use it on something I might actually need!

Tip of the day: If you find unopened items in your house or clothes that still have tags on them, try to return it for store credit! If you haven’t worn or used in 30 days, do really need the item?

Time for No-Spend September and getting off of #teambroke

September just started. Literally we are on day 1 and we are out of money again. This keeps happening. For a self-proclaimed frugal minimalist, I sure seem to broke quite often. I have done so well in the past, but I guess its a life-long journey to remain debt-free except the mortgage. I don’t know if we are still living like we have two full time incomes or just the price of life has gone up. I am going to use September to figure this all out.

The goal for September – stick to budget, lower expenses, say no and put down the credit card. I plan to share what I do to save money and how much money I spend daily. I am hoping blogging will keep me accountable because these last several months have been ridiculous. I am over overspending and having no money to put towards savings each month. I am tired of having more month than money!

September 1st:
Money Spend: $0
Money Earned: $0
Days Until Paycheck: 14
Saving Goals for the week: Pack lunches, “shop the pantry” for meals and find free things to do with the kids over the long weekend. Return Hobby Lobby items for cash.

I am open to feedback, encouragement, judging, you name it! I need to get back on the bandwagon! It all starts now.