Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reader Question-Having Fun In Gray

Having Fun in Gray asked these questions:  

I feel as if I’m failing at this couponing thing. When you post your totals are you including the staples as far as Milk, Bread, Meat and Veggies for a weeks worth of breakfast, lunch and supper? I have made great deals for personal care items and have on occasion found good deals on cereal, frozen food and snacks. But when I go do my grocery shopping for actual home cooked meals that I plan out my percent savings goes down and my out of pocket goes up. I have purchased a lot of hot dogs, spaghetti sauce and BBQ sauce with coupons and BOGO deals. But there is only so much cereal and BBQ chicken and Spaghetti my family can stand. I have been couponing for about 2 months now. I wonder if I’m holding on to my Coupons to long. I hold them until I see a sale or a BOGO and then I stock up. But that is only a handful of items and then I need to make a Grocery run for the staples and boom up goes the bill. When I cleaned out my binder this week I tossed a lot of Coupons I could have used but had held onto waiting for the better buy. This was disappointing. I felt like I actually wasted money. What am I doing wrong? My monthly totals are nowhere near yours. PS… love your blog. Keep it up. And Congrats on the Trip. Way to go!!! 
First, you aren't doing anything wrong!  The people who are doing the coupon thing wrong are the people who aren't trying.  You are out there, collecting coupons, watching the sales, and working hard to save money so you can provide a different life for your family.  You are doing everything right so do not give up.  Be encouraged because even the most seasoned couponer spends too much money sometimes, or they will miss a deal, or they will throw a big handful of coupons away at the end of the month.  Personally, I haven't stepped foot inside Walgreens, RiteAid, or CVS in awhile.  I've had too much on my plate and just couldn't sit down to focus on making a list, pulling the coupons, and heading out to the store.  I've missed some great deals and threw a bunch of wonderful coupons away on July 1!
Now, to address the first question: yes, my totals include staples like milk, meat, veggies, and bread.  I look at the weekly staples from 2 angles.  One, if I stock up on non-perishables at rock bottom prices then I can spend a little extra on the fresh items and still stay within my budget.  Second, if I can get a few money-maker items then that will help lower the overall bill so I can buy the fresh items and stay within my budget.
In the spirit of this blog and for full disclosure: it is just my husband and I.  No one else is on our grocery budget.  My budget isn't going to look like yours...especially if you have one or more in diapers (or bottomless teenagers)!  Also, my husband only eats breakfast on Saturdays and that is sometimes.  He thinks a mountain of a cup of coffee is "breakfast".  I eat Cheerios, Frosted Shredded Wheat, or oatmeal for breakfast.  I do make his lunch most of the time and when I work, sometimes I take my lunch and sometimes I eat out.  I do cook most of our dinners but I'm not a gourmet cook.  We eat things like grilled chicken, bbq chicken, spaghetti, soft tacos or fajitas, etc.  Simple but it sustains us.  If I eat fish it's because we went out to eat.  Bubba eats very few veggies so if I make a salad it's all mine.  The same with fruit.  Since he doesn't help eating them I only buy enough for me.
I would like to encourage you.  My grocery bill did not go down until I had been using coupons for about 6 months.  The amount of groceries I purchased went up significantly but I wasn't spending any less.  It wasn't until I had an initial stockpile of items in my home that I took the plunge and challenged myself to spend $35 or less a week on groceries.  If you have been using coupons for 2 months then there shouldn't be a decrease in your spending yet but there should be an increase in the amount of items you are bringing home.  You want to have a decent stockpile of non-perishables before you start decreasing your spending.  Another tip is this: when you plan your menu, plan it from your pantry...not the grocery ads.  If you have a good sized stockpile then when you plan your weekly menu you should look in the pantry and freezer for what you will be making.  When you head out to the grocery store only buy that fresh bunch of celery or broccoli or the peaches for the cobbler.  Everything else should be in your stockpile.
There are things out there that freeze very well.  Milk and shredded cheese are 2 of them.  When milk is on sale I will buy maybe 4 gallons.  Then I'll pour a little from 3 of the gallons into another freezer friendly container and freeze them.  I have had great success with frozen milk.  Back when there was a great deal on Kraft shredded cheese I bought a bunch and stuck most of it in the freezer.  I'm hoping it lasts me until the next great deal on shredded cheese!  We use liquid creamer in our coffee so when I was able to pick it up very cheap I bought a bunch and stuck those in the freezer as well.  I won't need to buy creamer until about Christmas!  I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can stockpile things other than personal care items, canned goods, or frozen chicken fingers (Bubba loves those).  
Having Fun In Gray-my final word of advice is: if you are running out of items too fast then maybe it's time to consider getting a few more coupons from somewhere.  I have no idea how many people are in your family but if you have more than 4 then you should be getting at least 6 inserts.  It's just the 2 of us and I pick up 5.  Once you have a good sized stockpile then you will find that you won't be spending your money on the same non-perishables every single week.  Eventually, you will look at your stockpiled items and ask yourself, when is it enough?!?  I found myself asking that about body wash the other day.  I don't need to buy another bottle of body wash for at least 6 months!  That frees up a few dollars for something else.  I don't need to buy deodorant for at least 6 months, there's another couple dollars freed up.  Hand soap is covered for...I don't know how long, there's another couple of dollars.  Now I have freed up enough of my grocery budget to buy a few nice ribeye steaks for the hubby to grill or enough for that big old watermelon I've been eyeing.
Give yourself time for trial and error.  Give yourself time to get into a rhythm that works for you.  Give yourself permission to take a little time to figure this whole coupon thing out.  You will get there.
Thanks for the great questions!  If I neglected to answer anything or if this isn't clear please feel free to ask again.  I'm loving the great comments and questions!

Standing on His Promises, Mrs. Bubba

1 comment:

  1. Oh Thank YOU for the Information and Inspiration! We are a family of 4. We both work. We have two children, ages 6 and 8, then me and the hubs. When budgeting for groceries I have to count him as two. Ha-Ha. When I cook I try to make enough to have leftovers for myself at lunch. The hubs doesn’t like leftovers. But I still manage to put some up in the freezer and spring them on him later in the month. When I have leftovers for lunch then I don’t have to pay as much for frozen dinners. I try never to go out at lunch. We try to save going out to eat for family nights or on those nights that life has royally interfered with cooking dinner and we need to grab something fast. Thank you so much for responding to my question. I feel better about things. I will keep digging at it. I hope to some day post the same low totals you post. I love your blog. I like that you are “local” to me. I feel like if you can do it then there is hope for me as well. So please keep posting the deals you get and how you got them. I love knowing where you went and when. And that you post what the off shelf price was and then how you reduced the price. I like to know what coupon you used and where it came from. These details are great. I use them as guides to go by when I do my shopping. Keep up the good work. OooH… PS…. I love that you post what coupons we actually get in the paper. I copy that to an excel file. Then later when you post what Q’s you use, I use it to look and see if I have that coupon…. It is GREAT! This way I don’t have to flip thru all my files and coupon booklets… I just do a search on the excel file…. I just started this but I think I’m going to love doing it this way. I’ll keep working at it. I still have my binder full of printed Q’s & blinkies but using the Excel file is becoming very helpful… so don’t stop! Please.


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