In light of the failing market, warnings from our church leaders and general fear of a total meltdown we have been working on being prepared for whatever may happen. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have 8 months of food storage. Now we need to work on 4 more. Our pool is our water storage. We got a filter so that even if it turns green we can still use it.
The other thing we’ve been working on is living within our means. It’s tough to do when we often feel like we are sacrificing. I have a list of wants that is a mile long. I have to constantly remind myself they are wants and not needs. Anyway, what I want to talk about is our current interest in coupon-ing. We are getting pretty serious about it and have had some success. Most of the work was in getting organized but once you have a system and start accumulating coupons you start to run on auto-pilot. My biggest problem is that I love feeling like I’m getting a deal so I end up buying stuff I don’t normally buy or at times I don’t quite need it just to get a deal. In case you’re interested, here is how we do it. Please also share any secrets you have.
1. First, we subscribed to the Sunday paper which has quite a few coupons in it. Now Sarah’s mom gives us her paper too.
2. We made a coupon organizer which consists of a standard 3-ring binder with clear 8 1/2 x 11 page protectors. Each protector is for a different section of the store and they are in the order of the store we shop at the most. I also made a section for services and another for entertainment.
3. I made a shopping list with Excel that is divided into the different sections to correspond to the coupon sections.
4. Throughout the week as we think of things we need we add them to the list in the appropriate category.
5. Every Tuesday we get the grocery store sales flyers and I put these with the notebook so we have them when we’re ready to plan our shopping trip.
6. When we get a chance, we go through the coupons and clip the ones we think we’ll use and sort them into their appropriate categories.
7. Friday night we get our list, flyers and coupon notebook and grab all the coupons for things on our list and add things to the list that both are on sale and we have coupons for. As we go through the coupons we make sure to look at expiration dates and throw out expired coupons. On the shopping list I make notes by each item that has a sale and/or coupon to make sure I get the right brand and amount when shopping. I stick the shopping list and coupons in the front pocket of the binder and it is ready to take to the store.
8. When shopping I sometimes find items that have good sales that didn’t show up in the flyer and I have to try and remember if I also have a coupon and might have to rifle through the binder to see if I have a coupon but it is right there with me.
The results: The second week of collecting coupons we spent like $80 and saved something like $75! Of course, without coupons I usually save about $35 just by getting mostly sale items.
Then last week I got carried away and tried to use every coupon I could and spent around $180 and saved $100. I think I got too carried away so I need to be more careful and only get extra stuff it is a really really good deal.
As we’ve been more concious of looking for deals we start to notice what is a really good deal and what is just an okay deal. When there is a really good deal you have to just buy as much as you can and add to storage. I was thinking today that we should get a freezer chest for storing meat, produce, milk, etc. Milk has been really cheap lately (under $2) and I want to store a bunch for when it jumps back up above $3/gallon.
Hopefully this information wasn’t too boring and helpful for some. Post your coupon/grocery budget experience. Do you have a grocery budget? How much? We try to stay under $100/week which includes diapers, cleaning products, etc.