Friday, January 14, 2011

Shopping Smart in 2011

I didn't really make any set in stone resolutions for this new year, just a few desires expressed to improve upon. Like learning to shoot a .22 and shoot it well. As always, improving the garden and harvesting. Nothing extreme like wanting to visit 50 countries or losing 100 pounds or some such goal.

I do want to do better on our financial situation, though. We have some home improvement projects we'd like to see accomplished, but we never have the money for it. Our Hall Bath is in desperate need of being redone and I think the most costly part of it will be the plumbing-- hiring a plumber to reroute the septic line and water line so we can relocate the toilet and shift the sink over. I like to imagine that we can do most of the work ourselves, but in reality, both of us are not carpenters and other than helping my dad, we don't know much about framing. So that's another job we'll need to hire out. I hope we can keep the budget for redoing the bathroom to under $1,000-- preferably in the $700 range.

Anyway, I'm going to step up on using coupons while I shop. I've made a good start this year and keeping track of receipt totals and actual out-of-pocket costs in a notebook. We sort of lived paycheck to paycheck last year, and more than a few times, we've had to go to the Bank of Mom and borrow a little bit to make it to the next paycheck. We've always paid her back, but I'd like to put an end to that this year. We want to start putting aside a little nest money for emergencies, and though Andrew still works part-time, I can see it happening if we tighten up our belts a bit more.

As of today, my total purchases from the beginning of the year is $545.73. That's a lot for only the first 2 weeks, but with coupons, I've managed to pay out-of-pocket only $150.41! That's over $395 saved! I told Andrew that my goal was to spend only $75 per week on groceries, including diapers. Peter should be out of diapers soon, so once that happens, our weekly total should come down a little bit.

In case you're wondering what I am buying with coupons, here's sampling of items I bought in the first 2 weeks: Diapers, wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, 20 boxes of macaroni and cheese, 24 cans (case) tomato soup, Christmas clearance chocolate candy (used for baking and ok, snacking!), cereal, oatmeal, laundry soap, and cough medicine. This is just a fraction of my purchases, but I am very pleased with what I have gotten for the prices I've paid.

The pantry is full; the bathroom closet is stocked; Peter has diapers to use; the cats and dogs are eating well; we're eating well. It's not easy to save and use coupons like this--it is work. I have to sit down at least an hour every day and search for deals and coupons to match, check internet postings from coupon sites and get multiple Sunday papers for coupons, not to mention cutting out coupons and sorting through them. In order to reduce my grocery bill from $57.20 to paying only $1.99 out-of-pocket, I have to do my homework.

Another thing I want to do this year is not buying clothing for any of us. I have gone through all our drawers and closets and we all have plenty of both warm and cold weather clothing; the kids all got new underwear and socks for Christmas; and so we should not need any more clothing at least until next year. They even have enough shoes, barring any growth spurts. We already shop thrift stores and yard sales, so it's not like we pay a lot for clothes, but still, we have more than enough clothes to wear. I have boxes set aside for the next size up for each child, plus we practice the hand-me-down ritual and thankfully, the girls don't mind.

A friend of mine gave me a stack of coupons yesterday that she doesn't want, so I cut and sorted through them last night. I found a few coupons that are money makers for me if I can get to the store tomorrow before the sale ends. Did you know that there are also several stores that give you a sneak peek at the next week's sales? So you can even decide not to buy this week when you know next week will be cheaper! I know one store is having a sale on mouthwash, which after coupons would cost me $1, but if I wait until next week, I can get the same mouthwash for free after coupons! I think I'll wait.

Any of you set up financial goals this year? Any money saving tricks or tips up your sleeves? I'd love to hear them! :o)

No comments: