I made a quick run to Kroger yesterday to pick up our groceries for the week, and was again reminded of just how important it is to really shop strategically whether I have a bunch of coupons or not. I literally only used two coupons on this trip, but my family’s grocery bill for our entire week of meals and snacks was just $66 – here’s what I bought:
So, if you’re a big couponer you’re probably not all that impressed with my deals (although that Turkey Hill Ice Cream savings was pretty exciting!) But, if you’re a regular mom who just needs to learn more about how to easily save on your groceries each week, here are five ways to easily save.
(I’m all about easy – aren’t you?)
1. Watch the price per ounce.
I needed a few cans of tomatoes for this Pasta Fagioli recipe, but didn’t have any coupons with me. The “sale” price on the Del Monte were $1 per can, while the every day price of the Kroger brand was $.69! My family will never know that I dumped Kroger brand tomatoes instead of Del Monte into Mrs. Potts, but I saved 30% off the “sale price” on the National brand without clipping a coupon.
2. Look for in-store sales.
Through tonight Kroger is having a huge Private Selection sale where you can try out their “fanc-i-fied” store brands for a sale price, AND $1 extra off when you purchase four participating items. I love a fancy roll when making hamburgers or grilled chicken sandwiches at home, and to get them for $.99 (the same as the inexpensive low-end store brand) was an incredible deal so I stocked up.
They also had their whole wheat loaves on sale for $.99 after special savings, so I’ve stocked my freezer. This was a huge savings, and didn’t require clipping a single coupon!
3. Stock up on produce seasonally along with a sale.
My kids love fresh fruit, so I almost always purchase a bag of apples, some bananas, and at least one other fruit to last us through the week. This week grapes were on sale for $1.69/lb. which is a little more than I like to pay, but I know they’ll eat through them, and it’s a healthier alternative to other snack foods!
And, just by looking around I noticed that while the Granny Smith Apples were $3.99/3 lb bag, Paula Red Apples were on sale for just $2.49. My kids thankfully like them all, so I bought the Red Apples and saved $1.50, without a coupon in sight.
4. Use a coupon when you can.
If you have just five minutes before shopping, scroll through the deals for your favorite store here on PPP and see if there’s a deal or two worth grabbing. I literally spent 3 minutes looking through the Kroger updates, knew that I could get a good price on Turkey Hill Ice Cream and Soft Soap, and saved an extra $5 for about three minutes of effort. I’m thinking that’s almost $100 as an hourly rate, and is totally worth it for me!
5. Menu plan, menu plan, menu plan (and make a thorough list before you shop.)
Odds are every time you set foot in the grocery store for “just one item” you find an extra three (or four or five) items to purchase. By having a menu plan and grocery list in place and really considering what your family needs for the entire week, you’ll save a bundle on those little “extra” trips to the store.
Be sure to look over your family’s weekly schedule before you head out. If you have snack duty for your child’s school, a special get together or anything else that will require extra food, add those items to the list and limit your grocery stops as much as possible. AND, before you head out always shop your own kitchen first - I realized I already had all the meat, chicken, and pasta that I would need this week at home, so I saved by using what I’d stocked up on earlier, when those items were at stock up prices!
Your turn now! Do you have any tips on how to really reduce your out of pocket expenses even when you aren’t using a ton of coupons? Coupon savings are the most fun for sure, but I’ll take spending just $66 on a week’s worth of meals whenever I can.
Earlier this week when I talked about the “secret” being in the sale, a few folks emailed an commented that they’re just not sure whether or not something really is a good price. To make life easier, you can easily download my stock up price list, but that varies some by area (and the prices are my stock up prices, after coupons which makes a huge difference!)
I started thinking though, that anyone can determine to learn their best prices by just putting a little time into research each week before shopping. Instead of trying to figure out a HUGE stock up price list, for the next few weeks make a list of ten things that you regularly buy – just the basics – and watch them each week in the sales ads for one month. Then you’ll at least really know on those ten staples, and next month can pick another 10 items to work with.
Do it for a few months, and my bet is that by Christmas you’ll have a pretty good idea of most of the best prices on items your family regularly buys! For me, I like to know my stock up prices on a few things my family uses every day ~ here’s my top ten:
- Milk $2.79/gallon (I’ve seen it lower at Costco)
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.79-$1.99/lb.
- Ground Beef $2.49/lb.
- Bananas $.49/lb.
- Some kind of fruit for the week ~ Apples ($.99/lb.), Strawberries ($.99/pint), Grapes ($.99-$1.49/lb.)
- Cereal $1-$1.50 per box (after coupons)
- String Cheese $.20-$.25 per piece
- Shredded Cheese $1.99/8 oz (less if there are coupon deals)
- Peanut Butter (we eat a lot of this one here!) $1.49/16 oz
- Paper Towels $.50 – $.75 per roll
Don’t forget you can also search ALL the weekly sales for stores we cover here on PPP over HERE, so if there’s something you need now you can easily find where it’s on sale.
New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:
- The Secret’s in the Sale: 5 Easy Ways to Save, Every Time You Shop
- Help! How Do You Save When You’re Eating Out?
- How Cleaning and Organizing Help My Budget
- What My Five Year Old Taught Me About Money
- Don’t Sacrifice What You Really Want For What You Want Right Now
- How Much Should A Family Spend On Groceries?
- Are you on an all cash budget?
- New to couponing? Here’s where to start.
- How Does Your Grocery Budget Look?
- Extreme Coupon Fraud: What You See On TV Isn’t Always Real
- Are You Spending Within Your Budget?
- Save the Way You Can Save: Penny Pinching Is Not A Competition
- Are You Satisfied With Your Penny Pinching?
- You Do Have Time To Coupon (But You Don’t Have To Do Everything. . .)
- Are Coupons For Everyone?
- How To Really Change Your Grocery Budget
- How to Save on Organics
If you’ve been trying to figure out how to save on medical expenses, here are a few ideas worth trying out! Just last month as I was picking up a prescription I reminded myself that I needed to try a few of these out again as well, and I’d love to here your suggestions also. Here are a few ideas:
- Use generic prescriptions when you can. Many prescription medications are available in a generic form, and it can help you pinch quite a few pennies by opting to use the generic form instead of the brand name prescription.
- Search the internet for coupons on regular (non-generic) prescriptions. Just this morning I googled one of the prescriptions we regularly purchase, and found a coupon for $15 off each prescription for the next six times I pick up this certain medication. While that doesn’t sound all that exciting, that’s a whopping $90 off ~ not too shabby for two minutes worth of searching!
- Find which stores offer your prescription at the most discounted rate. Some medications are less expensive at warehouse stores such as Sam’s or Costco, so it’s worth finding what the price is on your medications there rather than overpaying at a local pharmacy.
- Consider trying out CVS. Right now CVS has some fantastic bonuses for filling your prescriptions there, and if you’re a regular CVS shopper you can really benefit from these since you’re filling prescriptions anyways. Basically, fill 10 prescriptions at CVS and get $5 ECBs, plus find out more ways to earn extra care bucks which are definitely worth checking out.
- Ask for a discount on your bill when you pay it off in full. I received this great tip from a reader yesterday who had to pay a fairly large medical bill to her local doctor’s office. Oh a whim, instead of just paying the amount, she asked if they would give her a discount for paying it in full immediately when calling to make her payment. Sure enough, they gave her a 10% discount which saved $50. It never hurts to ask, and it might help you save a little extra money!
Your turn now! What tips do you have for saving money on medical expenses? I’d love to hear your ideas, so take a minute and leave a comment to share what’s worked for you.
I’m so excited about our upcoming coupon class that my friend Shannon and I will be teaching THIS Friday, May 16th at Asbury United Methodist Church in Madison, Alabama from 6:30 – 8:30 PM! We’ll discuss how to save money at Aldi, Target, Publix & Kroger, as well as share basic information on drug store coupon policies. We’ll also talk about how to organize your coupons, what all those crazy abbreviations mean, and where to begin if you’re a new couponer!
A donation of $5 for the coupon class is requested, and can be paid at the door. A portion of all money received will benefit the Northeast Alabama Fellowship of Christian Atheletes. We’d also love if you would bring a canned food item to donate to Asbury’s Food Pantry! There’s a link to the registration form that I’ll leave up on the right side of the page. If you’re a new couponer (or even have been at this penny-pinching stuff for awhile . . . ) we’ll hopefully teach you a few new tricks, and promise to answer all your questions. We can’t wait to meet you there!
Not in the North Alabama area? Check out the list of beginners tips and videos, and as always, feel free to ask questions in the comment section or on the PPP Facebook page. We’re always happy to help!
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” ~ John Wesley
From what Dave Ramsey said (I couldn’t find an exact quote), John Wesley had the following beliefs on how to order your finances:
- Give 10 percent.
- Save 10 percent.
- Live on 80 percent.
Be sure to also read this post including tips on how to invest wisely ~ it’s made such a difference for our family, and I know it can change your family’s future too!
I talked with my husband earlier this week about writing this post, and when I asked why he thought it was important for people to invest wisely, he quickly replied “So you don’t have to use coupons forever!”
Ahem. Clearly he doesn’t realize we’ll be clipping coupons until the day we die. Even if we have a billion dollars. (Sorry, honey.)
However, in a tiny way he’s right. Back when my husband got his first “real” job out of college, he immediately opened an investment account for retirement. At that point he didn’t have any debt, and knew just enough about investing to understand that starting early could change his financial future.
Because that’s the way he started, it’s what we’ve always done. We’ve always known that a certain portion of our income was untouchable, and it’s automatically gone towards retirement savings from the very beginning.
I realize though that we were incredibly fortunate to start things out early that way. The fact that he was out of debt from day one gave us so much more freedom to save for retirement. He was also incredibly fortunate to receive wise financial council from the very beginning (which I’m so thankful for!) However, not everyone is in that boat, and you may be someone who just doesn’t know where to even start.
Whether you have a little money or a lot of money to save towards investments, every penny you save now towards retirement will be worth it. My dad talks a lot about the “Rule of 72″ when we talk about investing (he’s smart like that), and while it’s not perfect advice, you can bet within reason that on average, every seven years, the money that you’re investing now will double.
Double. Every seven years. Did you hear that?
Over the course of time, that doubling can really add up, and while it can be difficult to choose to put money into savings when you’d rather spend it else where, watching your own money grow over time can be some great motivation to keep at it! Check out this Investment Information from Dave Ramsey that I thought was invaluable . . .
Even if you’re 40 or 50 and don’t have a retirement account, it’s never too late to start. If you are 40 and save just $2,000 a year in a 12% mutual fund, you will have nearly $334,000 by age 65—or more than $425,000 if you wait until 67 to retire! While you won’t have the most luxurious retirement, you can draw a decent yearly income—about $34,000 if you account for 4% inflation—from the interest by leaving that money alone.
So, where do you start? If you’re new to investing and just don’t know how to begin, contact one of Dave Ramsey’s Investment Endorsed Local Providers today. There are so many things you can start investing for, but you’ll never make a dent in your financial goals if you don’t get started.
Take a few minutes today to find out how to get started investing (and learn if you’re investing enough), by talking to a local, trusted advisor. Go HERE to contact an Investment Endorsed Local Provider in your area, and find out what you can be doing to change your financial future!
How are you doing on your grocery budget this week? Our pantry was pretty full after last week’s shopping trips, so I made a quick run to Publix yesterday and that was it for the week. We’re eating a lot from what we already have on hand, and I’m working really hard to be resourceful with what’s in the kitchen rather than making an extra trip to the store.
Guess what? It works!
We spent just $23.42 this week at Publix (while saving $27 – not all that exciting but I’m still keeping life simple around here), and I may use some of our extra cash this week to pick up fresh fruit at Sam’s Club or Aldi. So, nothing too exciting to report, but I’m thrilled to be way under our grocery budget for the week, leaving me extra moo-lah to spend on the things I really love to buy.
I’m still keeping tabs on my grocery expenses with just an envelope each week ~ you might want to do the same thing to hold yourself accountable too! I’m amazed at how much that’s helped me stay on track this year – just knowing that I’ll have to account for whatever I purchase in that envelope really makes a difference.
Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!
(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)
(See how we enjoyed this frugal feast last summer for just $1.49)
Over the last few months while I’ve had some anxiety about our upcoming move, I’ve really buckled down on how I spend every penny each week. As I’ve shared before, we take out a certain amount of money every two weeks for groceries, miscellaneous expenses and eating out, and for the fourth time in a row, I think I’ll come out this week ahead of the game. Success!
(Here’s when we spent $3.49 on dinner – love that!)
Here are a few things have worked for our family and might work for you too:
Eat at home. I can’t tell you how many nights in the past few weeks I’ve wanted to skip cooking and pick up dinner on the run, but determining to use what I already have on hand has saved us anywhere from $25-$50. Last night when we had a last minute showing of our house I really (really!) wanted to skip cooking (my menu plan flew right on out the window), but instead glanced in the freezer and found salad, ravioli, and garlic bread. My kids were thrilled (they love ravioli night), it took me less time to prepare than a trip through the drive thru would, and easily saved us $20.
Take advantage of the leftovers. So often I pop our leftovers in the fridge, and then let them hang out there until they turn green enough for me to throw them out. I’ve really been trying to make myself eat the leftovers while I’m at home for lunch (you would think I’d be doing that already, right?), so that we’re not wasting any of the food that’s been cooked at home. This has easily saved me $10 each week , and I’ve felt so much better not letting all that food go to waste!
Use what you already have. Last week after making breakfast for dinner our home reeked of bacon. I wanted to bake a batch of brownies so our home would smell a little sweeter when people came to look at the house (I’ve heard brownies work wonders for home sales), but when I got to the pantry we were all out of brownie mixes (eek!) Instead of heading to the store and paying full price for a box mix, I remembered the fourteen bags of chocolate chips I stocked up on at Dollar General a few weeks ago. Then I found this recipe on All Recipes, and just used what we already had on hand. Do that a few times a week, and you could easily save $10 if not more!
Plan ahead. My kids seem to always have some kind of school project lurking around the corner, so the last time I was at the Dollar Tree and found their project boards for $1 (and poster boards for even less), I stocked up and bought 6 sheets of poster board and 4 project display boards. (I typically only buy what they need, but it drives me nuts to have to pay full price!) Since those boards can cost up to $8 a pop at the local office supply store, this was such an easy way to save $10 simply by purchasing the things I knew they would use at the very best price I could find them.
Now, I know none of these ideas are earth-shattering, but they WORK, and really can help you reach your financial goals. If you’re in a place where you need to scale things back financially, consider coming up with ways to use what you already have, and really trim out excess things you can live without each week. Ultimately, we’re in charge of every dollar we spend, so let’s choose wisely where it goes!
Are you working on your 2013 taxes? Be sure to read this post on How To Save On Your Taxes Today ~ it will save you money and time (promise!) Also easily save hundreds each year just by making sure you’re getting the best price on Homeowner’s Insurance ~ it worked for us, and can definitely work for you too.