Tag Archives: personal finance

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?

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Making Sense of Our Food Spending

This post was supposed to be the first of weekly posts highlighting my meal planning for the week. I was going to share my shopping for the week and what meals I was going to try out on my family. Life has a funny way of laughing at plans. On Wednesday, our brand new heating unit that we are still paying off decided it didn’t want to give us any warm air. My family and I have been sitting in a cold home since then. We called the place that installed it; they came out and said they have to order a part from the manufacture to repair it. In the meantime, we’ve actually used our fireplace and purchased $100 worth of space heaters. Home-ownership woes. At least it is still under warranty! With that, I have not felt like investing any time in cooking or prepping. Also, my husband has been absent due to the end of the football season. I’m going to leave the cooking to him next week since he’s off on Monday and Tuesday!

So instead of grocery shopping, I thought I’d share a few numbers courtesy of mint.com. Last month my family spend $1,189.42 in food-related costs which is about $300 over budget. Here are the numbers:

Groceries $653.78
Restaurants $362.84
Fast Food $91.83
Food & Dining $43.46
Coffee Shops $37.50
Total $1,189.42

Using mint.com, I found that our monthly average for food-related expenses was $1,183 which is almost exactly how much we spent in December 2014. What is our budgeted amount, you ask? Our budget is $650 for groceries (which includes food for my gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan son due to allergies) and $200 for eating out (mostly for my husband who refuses to brown bag it even after years of me complaining). No wonder we were always over budget! So far we have spent $211.95 in January (although some of this was end of December that posted in January):

Restaurants  – $108.43 (celebrated my husband’s birthday)
Groceries – $58.48
Fast Food – $25.99 (hubby lunches for 3 days)
Coffee Shops – $10.00 (Starbucks – all me, I’ll admit)
Food & Dining – $9.05 (hubby brought me cookies to cheer me up and vending machines at hubby’s work)

Not starting off that great, huh? My hope is that we can stay on budget this month of $850!

 

Bye, bye wonderful November!

My favorite month is coming to a close. I haven’t been able to blog as much as I like due to some reoccurring wrist issues. Since I type all day at work, I have been trying to give a hands a bit of break. My job was nice enough to do an ergonomics check and get me a hand rest. I am not sure its getting any better, but well see. Yay, the joys of aging.

Nonetheless, I am super proud of my finances for the month. I was able to reduce our AC bill by around $3000 leaving the current total at $2530.78. Trust me, this was not an easy task. I increased my hours significantly at work. My husband also got a $600 bonus at work and $50 gift card. I sold some of my kids old clothes, stayed in and said no as much as possible. I used coupons, redeemed my shopkick points and used some old giftcards I had been holding on to. While it was not fun nor sustainable for the long run, it is wonderful to see the bill shrink away!

Its weird how when I don’t spend money, it makes be more wary of shopping but also crave it! I have really been good at evaluating what I need and only buying that. But I just really want to shop. Maybe its all the commercials on TV or the great items that seem to be on sale everywhere. Or being at home has focused my mind on all the things I wish I could have. I am trying to resist day by day and appreciate what I have. It seems so hard though!