Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cutting Your GROCERY Bill Down!

My Tiny Kitchen
"I was wonderin if you could give me hints, tips, advice whatever its called, on GROCERY can I bring the grocery bill down some more...I'm doin ok but wanna do even better...I'm getn personal items practically free at times but my groceries aren't exactly as low as i would like...thanks so much!!!! "- From a Couponing Mommy reader

Coupons are great and drugstores are super fun, but it's when you cut that grocery bill down from 200-250 a week to less than 40 that is when you really go W-O-W! Some weeks this is reasonable to do, and some weeks it is almost better to skip the coupons and grab the necessities. The first thing I want to mention, is that you need to have a realistic goal. Do NOT expect to be like the show, saving over 90-100% and sometimes getting money back. That is so unrealistic it makes me cringe. Here's a few tips I've learned along the way that ARE REALISTIC:

1. Learn to stockpile more than your toothpaste. When that box of cereal (or whatever it is) goes on sale at rock bottom price, you are going to want to grab up as many boxes that your family is going to need for the next 6-8 weeks. Now, I know this can be hard for some people, because I have an itsy bitsy kitchen myself. Then, you won't be buying it again till it goes on sale again. So, basically, you need to create a price point list of sorts on what you consider to be that rock bottom price. There is a link there to one list that I used when first starting, but I recommend making your own  based off of this one that is according to your stores that you shop at and your area...Everyone is different!

2. The BOX Syndrome. Or at least that's what I like to call it. I've noticed that a lot of coupons are for not so healthy boxed dinners and such. It's hard to feed a family the healthy things, like fresh produce, with coupons. There is a couple things you can do to get make sure you don't have The Box Syndrome. First, you are going to use overages to your advantage. Overages are when an item is on sale or sometimes regular price, but your coupon is for more than that! So, if you (at a store that doubles) have a coupon for 50 cent off a box of pasta and the past is buy one get one free at 1.69, you are getting 15 cents in overages back! I know you are thinking "seriously, 15 cents?!", but you have to remember that 5 boxes at that price will give you 75 cents back. If bananas are on sale that week at 49 cents, you can get 1.5 lbs of bananas for FREE! Also, when doing overages, remember that competitor coupons work really well with this, too! The second thing you can do with meat, produce, and milk is take full advantage of when there actually is a coupon for it. Sign up for emails from your favorite stores and make sure they have your address correct for mailing information to you. Occasionally you might get a coupon for 5 off 50 worth of groceries or 2 off 10 worth of produce. I ALWAYS print any and all bread, milk, meat, and produce coupons and I rarely let them expire without using them (see next point). Third, you are going to want to only buy these things when they are on sale at the same low price as the first point. When ground hamburger goes on sale for 1.99 a pound, don't buy 2 pounds! Buy what you are going to need for the next 6-8 weeks. For example, this week at one of my favorite grocery stores, Springer Mountain Chicken was on sale buy one get one free. I got 6 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts for 2.83 a pound making my total before the coupons, 17.00. That seems kind of high right? Well, I had the SS 8/07 $1.50 off coupon for it, and since I had 4 packs, I got to use 4 coupons. So, now it is 11.00 for 6 lbs or 1.84 a pound. Not too bad! Make your household meals around what fruits and veggies are in season...Like right now, we have a huge bowl of apples constantly on our counter for everyone to snack on! This is also where you might need to consider having an extra freezer to store some of these things.

3. OMG! I have about 300 hundred million coupons expiring this weekend! This is the absolute WORST coupon habit I have seen. Just because you have a coupon for it, does not mean that you have to buy it. I absolutely can not stress this enough! Coupons come and go, but once you spent that money buying it, you can't get that money back. There are a few high dollar coupons that you obviously will want to use before they expire, but ONLY if they are things that your family are going to use. You do NOT have to buy something simply because you have a coupon. Matter of fact, you don't even have to buy it if it is free. If it is something that is going to not be used or you already have plenty in the cabinet, SKIP it. Throw those coupons away or send them to the military to use. Move on.  Coupons are not given to consumers because they want us to save, they are MARKETING techniques to get us to buy. If you are buying simply because you have a coupon for it, then they are winning, and your grocery bill will never reach your realistic goal.

4. Make your list and don't go hungry! Shopping from a list can be the best way to save on your groceries. You avoid impulse buying. This can be pretty hard to do, especially if you have kids with you, but if you find that you simply *need* to buy some things that aren't on your list, let each person/child shopping with you pick out one thing they want. If you go down each aisle and are grabbing something on each aisle, you are bound to spend hundreds of dollars. This also goes with the weekly meal planning...which can take time to get used to as well. This is an example of what my meal planner looks like:
Mon- (hubby's night) Spaghetti, Salad, French Bread
Tues- (Soccer practice) Pizza, Salad
Wed- (hubby's night) Lloyd's BBQ Sandwiches, Peas & Carrots, Pasta Side Dish
Thurs- Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn, Biscuits, Gravy

Fri- (Soccer practice) Crockpot Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, & Onions
Sat- (Soccer game/Lunch out) Steak & Shrimp Stir Fry
Sun- (Church, Gamecock Soccer Game 1pm, Annabelle's Bday Party 3pm) Lunch-out, Dinner-bday party or snack on veggies & dip @home
Breakfast/Lunches- Ham Sandwiches, Leftovers, Bagels & Fruit, Cereal, Apples & PB, Soup, Chef Boyardee
And yes, all of these notes are on my planner because then I know what is going on and whether things need to be prepped before or meat taken out the night before. As for not going while hungry, well, that kind of just makes sense, lol! :D

5. Prepare ahead of time. Do NOT take your binder. Now, I know that seems like a strange idea...But, until you learn to stop impulse buying simply because you have a coupon for something, it is best not to have your huge stockpile of coupons with you. Plus, it will be a lot easier to stick to your list. Once you get established as a couponer, you can start taking it in with you again, but until then, at least leave it in the car. That way, you would have to make a special trip back in the store, so it must really be something you want, not an impulse buy. As for planning ahead, it goes hand in hand with making a list and a weekly meal planner. Get your list together, do your coupon matchups, look at the sales ad online (or hard copy if you get it in the mail). Prep! You will be a lot happier with your results if you can simply instill this rule with the #4 rule.

*Also, please remember that just because it isn't free, doesn't mean that it isn't a good price. It is not realistic to think that you will always be able to get everything for free. *

So, I hope this is helpful and answers some of the questions on how to get your GROCERY bill lower. A few other things to take in mind is to shop the stores that double and take competitor coupons. And don't forget RAINCHECKS!Pin It

Monday, October 17, 2011

Walmart Savvy! And a Quick Bi-Lo Trip...

 Okay, I can honestly say since I started this whole coupon thing, I haven't been shopping really. There has been no need for anything besides produce, bread, and milk, and meats. Since I've been having a really time consuming semester, I took a break. I've actually enjoyed my time "off" and I fully recommend trying it for any of you that are starting to feel a little overwhelmed or just plain tired. So, this week, I made a quick trip to Bilo to grab some staples and a few of the deals and then I hit up Walmart on Saturday evening to grab some items that I had free coupons for and try to get some overages on my cat litter, lol!

Walmart Trip
1 Garnier Herbashine HairColor
2 Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners
4 Old Spice Travel Size Body Wash
9 Crave Cat Treat Pouches
2 Cover Girl Face Sponges
2 Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Moisturizer
1 Breeze Cat Litter Pellets
2 AquaFresh Extreme Clean Travel Size Toothpaste
4 Dr. Pepper TEN 2L bottles 
Subtotal $62.92
Coupons $58.08
TOOP $4.84
Savings of 92%

Bi-Lo Trip
1 Idaho Spuds Potato Bits
4 Betty Crocker Potatoes
4 Chef Boyardee
1 Lil Hug Drink
8 Healthy Choice Meals
1.95 lb Bottom Round Roast
2.45 lb Cube Steak
2 Hormel Mini Pepperoni
6 lb of Tangerines
2 lb of Baby Carrots
1 head of Cauliflower
10 Buddy Fruits
5.44 lb of Honey Crisp Apples
Subtotal $120.05
Coupons/Savings $62.68
TOOP $57.37
Savings of 52%
*And technically, I still am using those giftcards I won to Bilo, so all of this was FREE!*
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Get Fab & Fit in Active by Old Navy!

Okay, so can I get a raise of hands of people that think they could stand to use a few pounds? And even if you don't need to loose weight, according to the Mayo Clinic, an adult should be getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. So, my question to you, is this: Are you getting that? That's at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity FIVE days a week!

I know I don't...even with my new commitment to loosing the extra poundage still leftover from having my kids and all the other stress in my life (*sigh* I'm an emotional eater!). So, when I go accepted into the Old Navy Active Sample & Share with Crowdtap to try out their new line of workout clothes, I was super excited. I mean really, what woman doesn't like new clothes?! And, it definitely helps to get me moving if I have something super cute to wear! I think it kind of goes back to the idea of dressing your best to do your best work. I know that it means for professional work and such, but I think it can apply here, too. For instance...this is what I normally would wear to work out:

As you can see, it was nothing cute, sexy, or chic. Matter of fact, it was "the straight out of bed look" and boy, did I have it perfected! LOL. I usually wore a ribbed tank or a cut up t-shirt with a pair of Old Navy yoga capris or my sweats. Now, I want you to understand that while I enjoy feeling "pretty" and I like to look nice, I also hate spending a lot of time to do it. So, I'm more of a no-fuss kind of girl. I have 3 kids and a million and one things going on in my life, so taking hours or even an hour to get ready to go anywhere is simply out of the question. So, this brings me to my Old Navy Active experience. I received my coupons, one for me and one for a friend, in the mail this last week and was excited to get up to the store before everything was picked over too badly, which has been the normal experience for me. I guess either Old Navy doesn't believe in fat people sizes or else everyone that lives in my area is fat, lol, so all the larges and x-larges will be gone and forget it if you need an xx-large!

Okay, so moving on, my bestie and I managed to meet up this weekend, but we did have a few tag-a-longs or as we affectionately called them, "the panel of judges":
The Judges!
Right away after arriving, I had a cart full of the new active line and so did she! The biggest disappointment was of course the selection, but it was a typical store selection issue, not like the last few times where it seems that there was NOTHING left. We headed to the dressing room and my hopes was for the Women's Hooded Running Top (my store had this in the gray with the green tones), the Women's Active Compression Pants (also in the gray with the green tone), and the Women's Padded Sports Bra (Tropical Undertow is what they call the green tone, lol). I was also looking at the Floral Graphic Active Tanks with the Women's Color Block Compression Jacket. I fell in love with these clothes immediately! I put on the pants and already felt sexy and ready to go! By the time I had put on the sports bra with the hooded top, my friend said to me laughingly, "I hate you! You look so cute!"

So, as you can see, I'm really excited about this new line! A few of the items I wanted did seem to run a little small, as I usually wear a large to x-large at Old Navy, but the outfit I got seemed to be pretty true to size. Unfortunately, this month's budget is all tapped out, but I can't wait to go back and get some of the stuff in pink and black and add some more tops to both colors so that I will have at least 3-4 outfits for my week. And just to prove a point, I actually got up this morning at 7:30 and jogged on the treadmill for over 30 minutes just because I like the way these clothes make me feel, lol!And this brings me back to my original point of, you can look good just by simply putting these clothes on! No prep work needed, and Old Navy prematched almost everything to each other so you can go with all basic colors (black/white/gray) or add in a little color (currently have the green and pink) to make it your own style!

And by the way, my friend that hated me, I thought she looked pretty darn hot too!

 So, what are you waiting for?! Go get some Old Navy Active and get moving! *singing the "I like to move it move it" song from Madagascar in my head....*

*Quick Update*
I had to go buy some more! I am so in love with these workout clothes, they are so comfy and look so awesome on! Plus, when I have cool new workout gear, it inspires me to do more working out! Here is everything I know own from the active line:
Old Navy Active & Compression!
There are 3 Sports Bras, 3 Compression Pants, 2 tank tops, and 3 pullover jackets. Enough for a week or so of workouts!

Also, I want to add that is an awesome site to download workouts from and a lot are only a few dollars! I burn them to dvd and play them on my tv! And they offer some for free with different codes (just google exercisetv code). You do have to buy something else with it, but a lot the videos are only 1.99 to begin with and some are free! Like these here and here.
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