Monday, March 28, 2011

Skimping and Saving

$0.50 off. B1G1. RedPlum. ExtraCare Card. eMealz.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you know the deal. You clip, you cut, you compare, and you pray that all the time spent with the kitchen scissors pays off at the check-out line. Literally.

My mom never used coupons or shopped on sale when I was growing up. She just shopped at Wal-Mart, of course! So, really the world of intentional saving has been very, very new to me.

When I was living on my own, I could spend upwards of SEVENTY-FIVE dollars a WEEK on groceries/household products! $75!!! A WEEK!! FOR ONE PERSON!!! And I usually threw 1/3 of my groceries out at the end of the week. Now, I think I spend about $75 while shopping for four people (me, Mom, Fred, and Blake - the boys usually eat with us)... and that's not even with real coupon use. I've only done some hardcore couponing a few times, and have gotten away from it thanks to a hectic school schedule. But, now that things are winding down and school is less stressful, I'm back to clipping, cutting, comparing, and praying that all my efforts will be worth it at the register!

My goal... and who knows if I can actually do this... is to spend $50 a week or less (about $200 a month) on groceries/household supplies/pet food once Blake and I get married. I think that's a generous amount, and it should be totally doable.

So far, I've got the basics down. I shop for my groceries at Publix because I know their system the best, and I think they usually have pretty good deals. I shop at CVS for beauty/hair/medical products when they have a really good sale and offer ECBs. Other places (Walgreen's, RiteAid, WinnDixie, etc.) really have to catch my attention for me to even step foot inside. And, then, when all else fails... there's Wal-Mart! :) I really hate shopping at Wal-Mart for lots of various reasons, but I have to admit they usually have the lowest price on just about everything. I hate it! But, when I really need something (usually pet food and face wash!) and don't have a coupon or I can't find it on sale, I have no shame in heading to the W.

I know that I am supposed to match sale prices with coupons, and that I am supposed to generally buy only items that are on sale. This is where eMealz comes in. I don't have a subscription yet because our schedule is so crazy, but this is definitely a service I'd consider. You purchase a subscription and they send you a weekly menu and grocery list based of the sale items at your favorite grocer. For now, I just scour the sales papers on Sundays and Wednesdays and plan the week's meals accordingly.

I stock up on the things we use most when it's on sale, I have a coupon, or it's a "surprisingly low price" (Publix!): ground beef, chicken, pasta, pasta sauce, CoffeeMate, milk (yes, milk! I freeze it!), rice, canned vegetables, chicken stock, etc. I don't go overboard, because I know it'll go on sale again in about four to six weeks.

So. If you are still reading this, props to you. Seriously. I wouldn't read this. I just wanted to type it all out! Just kidding... my point is this: I know the basics, but I'm ready to move to the next level. I want, for the first time, to SAVE more than I SPEND! That's my goal for the next couple of months. I am about to "technically" save more than I spend at CVS with one of their deals, but I'm getting ECBs instead of cold hard cash. I want to go in and CONQUER the grocery store with my mad couponing skills. Not the spend-$1.50-save-$543.50 kind of Extreme Couponing like on the TLC show (which I think will probably make me more depressed than encouraged!), but just as an everyday gal saving some money on the essentials of life.

Any advice on how to accomplish this goal is certainly welcome. :)

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