Grocery Budget: Last Week of August 2013

One of the biggest questions I have always gotten from my friends is about my grocery budget and what we buy.  I admit that when I read other blogs, I love to see how much they spend as well as what they get for their money.  I find that I often get some ideas for things I would like to try or ways to save even more money.

We budget $150 a week for a family of 4-5 (oldest is in college but is home often).  This money is for food, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food, toiletries, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  I would love this amount to be lower, but while trying to include more lean choices of meat and more produce, I find that this amount is probably right where it needs to be.

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Sadly, I only have a picture of my Target trip this past week.

The good news is that I scored some great deals at Target.   I fully intended on posting these deals after I bought them for all to see and be able to do, but the last week has been pretty hectic getting ready for school and working on home projects, that I just didn’t get it done.  I promise to do better at getting these deals posted as soon as I can in case any of you want to do them too.

I was able to get everything in the picture for a total of $14.80!  Amazing.  I was so excited.

Since some of these deals are not available anymore, (the coupons and savings most likely are, but the prices may be different) I will just give a quick breakdown of what I bought and what coupons I used to show you how you can often get some great deals at target.

  • Up and Up disinfectant wipes $1.87 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) Final price $1.77.
  • Girls Circo Leggings on sale for $5 (saved 15% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a Target mobile coupon for $3 off $10 on childrens clothing.  Final price $2.75.
  • Girls Circo Tunic on sale for $5, used the above $3 on $10 mobile coupon to make the final price $3.50.
  • Snickers Bites $2.66, used a $1 manufacturer coupons and a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.66.
  • Market Pantry Wafer Cookies $1.26 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.24.
  • Market Pantry Apple Juice $1.89, (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a $1 Target mobile coupon for a final price of $.84.
  • Dasani water $1.49 for the thirsty shopper
  • Up and Up hand soap $.89 x 2 (saved 5% using Target Cartwheel App) and used a peelie coupon for $1 off 2 Up and Up hand soaps.  Final price $.34 each.
  • Gillette Series shaving cream $1.97 x 3.  I used a $6 on 3 manufacturer coupon to make $.09 on this deal.  Hubby doesn’t use shave cream, he likes shaving soap. but big girl and I could care less what our shaving cream looks or smells like.  It’s free!
  • Market Pantry Soup $1.22 x 3.  I used a $1.50/3 Target Coupon to get these for a final price of $.72 each.  These are the big cans comparable to Campbell’s Chunky Soup.
  • Index cards $.50 x 4 (saved 10% using Target Cartwheel App) and I also used a Target Mobile coupon for $1/4 Up and Up school supplies.  Final price $.22 each.  I have no idea how the Cartwheel took 12 cents off.  It should have been either 10 cents for after coupon or 20 cents for before coupon, but I have no idea how it came to 12 cents.

I also have a Target Redcard (debit) that saves me an extra 5% (recommending the Debit card only, I do not recommend credit cards) on purchases as well as giving me free shipping.

I’ll take all the savings I can get without having to use credit!

To get Target mobile coupons sent to your phone, just text the word OFFERS to 827438. You can use each mobile coupon once.  If you want to do a deal again, you can get the coupons sent to another phone in your house to do a separate transaction.

I always give the Target Cartwheel coupons to scan first, then mobile coupons and then any other coupons.  Sometimes the cartwheel takes the percent off before the mobile coupon and sometimes it take the percent off after the coupon.  I think it really has it’s own mind!

I got home quite late after buying my groceries at Kroger, and I just didn’t have it in me to take pictures.

I did spend $67.12 at Kroger on items like milk, eggs, cheese, green tea, toilet paper, noodles, garlic bread, crackers, pickles, oatmeal and a bunch of produce.  I was able to get 2 bags of cuties for $.99 each off the marked down produce rack (this is one of the only stores around here that has one) and peaches, nectarines, plums and gala apples for $.99 a pound.

Hubby spent $19.07 at Dollar General on canned chicken and baked beans.

Our grand total for the week was $100.99 which brings the total for August (5 weeks) to $759.18.  Wow that sounds like a bunch, but this month did have 5 Fridays in it!  So I ended the month over by only $9.18.  I’m glad I was able to make up for going over so much earlier this month.

GROCERY TIP ~ The best thing about a grocery fund or envelope that you contribute a set amount to each week is that what you don’t spend one week is in there for future weeks.  You can afford to go over at a later date if you have saved up some money over time in the grocery account. You can take advantage of that great meat sale or whatever else comes up.  I find this extra money is very handy at holidays when the list is a bit bigger to cook those special meals.

How are you doing with your grocery budget?  Need help or have a suggestion?  Send me an email or leave a comment.  With the price of groceries steadily going up and the size of the product going down, we all need all the help we can get.  

Practicing Frugal in 2013: Ad Match or Price Match

Looking to save money in 2013? You have come to the right place. For the next few months we will be talking about some simple ways that you can save money in 2013. Making small changes over a period of time will lead up to a big change. It’s often much easier and more likely to become a habit if you take one small step and work on it before introducing another change.

Walmart Checkout Features Ad Match and Coupon Policy Signs

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If you would rather not stop at more than one store to get some of the great deals that are being offered at multiple stores, you should give ad matching, or what some call price matching a whirl.  You can ad match and still use coupons for even more savings.

It’s a great way to add to your grocery savings while getting some of the best deals (loss leaders) offered at many stores.

You can read the Ad Match Guarantee for Walmart which basically tells you that you don’t need the ads to get the price.  I usually have them with me in case I am questioned, but the best thing to do is make a note on the back of your grocery list of all the items you want to match, size, flavor, price and store.

What if I don’t get all the local ads in my mailbox?  Check for ads online.  Most stores now feature their weekly ads on their store website.  Write down the information you need to ad match the item and head to the store.  It’s that easy.

If you feel you might encounter problems matching at your store, take a copy of the ad match guarantee with you.  I actually have never had a problem.

To make the process easier, place all items you will be matching at the front or back of your order on the conveyor belt.  This will make it easier for you and the checker by assuring that you don’t forget to get a great price on something.  Don’t forget to tell the checker before she scans those items that you will be ad matching them all.  I find that being organized and helpful makes the process go much smoother.

It will also help you if you keep your ad match items in a certain place in the buggy.  If I only have a few, I use the child seat area.  If I have a bunch, I draw an imaginary line in my buggy or use something to separate them.

Now I have one pointer for you all.

See where the arrow points in this image below?

walmart ad matchThat rule varies by store.  My store allows me to match milk, juice and other private label items.  I have also been able to match eggs without the brand being the same.  This is basically up to your cashier and store.  I would put them in my order like I am matching the item and give them the prices.  All they can really do is say no, and then all you have to do is say I don’t want that item.

Cashier profiling is another thing that is best when shopping (ad matching and using coupons) at many stores.  I find that some of the “older” ladies question every little thing you do, resulting in a long and drawn out process that leaves you nothing but exhausted and less likely to ad match or use coupons again.  I have had this happen before.  It’s not like you are doing anything wrong, but sometimes these cashiers can make you look and feel like it.

Target also has a Price Match Guarantee.  I have had no personal experience with it as I don’t get to Target that much, but I have heard it’s not as easy as Walmart since you must do the matching at the service desk.

Other store ad match or low price guarantee policies:

Fred Meyer

Meijer

Best Buy

Staples

Office Depot

Sears

Lowe’s

Home Depot

What about you, do you ad match?  Do you take advantage of low price guarantees?  Have you ever found the price lower and gotten some money back?  Leave a comment telling us about your experience.  

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Grocery Budget: First Week Of February

I started the week off with working a 12 hour night shift, so I’m a little behind on my grocery post for the week.  I did manage to get the groceries bought as well as take advantage of some deals at stores other than Walmart.

People are always asking me how we get our groceries for such a small amount compared to what they spend.  So I post our grocery trips here so you can see what we buy.  We currently budget $150 a week for a family of 4 to 5 (big girl is at college most of the time) food, non food grocery items, cleaning supplies, pet food, health and beauty, over the counter medicine and some car maintenance items.  This amount is still a bit higher than I would like, but I am learning that with the items included in our budget and the price of items in our area, this amount is really not that bad.  When you are trying to eat a healthier diet consisting of leaner meat, lots of fresh produce, more organic items and more natural foods, your grocery bill will tend to be a bit higher. You just get creative and find other ways to save.

Warning:  I got home late from shopping and running errands, so the picture quality is less than good, but at least you can see what I got.

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This is what I picked up at Kroger (the dried fruit and energy shots are from Sam’s) this week.  I was able to take advantage of the mega saver sale and get some of these items for very little or even free.

The chicken in the next picture was actually purchased at Kroger as well.  I told you it was late.  My brain was already asleep.

The Kroger mega saver sale allows you to purchase 10 of the items on the mega sale and then save an extra $5 for each set of 10 you buy.  It is limited to how many sets of 10 you can do in a transaction, but I have never reached the limit.  I have purchased 3 sets at one time (30 mega saver items).  If you buy the wrong item on one of your items or forget one, the $5.00 won’t come off the bill at the end of the checkout process.

The weekly ad lists some of the mega saver items in it, but there are so many more when you get in the store.  Unfortunately, the sale is over for the week, but they are having a 50% off sale now.

Some of the great deals I got with or without the mega sale are:

  • .39/lb ripe bananas and organic bananas (the only store around that sells them like this)
  • the chicken noodle soup was .79 each (.75 at Walmart) and I had a $.40 coupon that double to make them .59 each after coupon
  • bone in chicken breast at $1.29/lb
  • hefty freezer bags $.99 after mega discount
  • Mahatma Rice $.68 each after mega discount and 3-$.50 coupons that doubled
  • French’s Spicy Brown Mustard free after mega discount and 2-$.50 coupons doubled
  • Finish Dishwasher tabs $.84 each after mega discount and 3-$2.15 off one coupons
  • the cat food was free after a recent coupon for a free 16 oz package or $3.25 off a bag.  The only store I found around here that carried the box was Kroger.  Now I wish I had more of these coupons.

The things I didn’t mention were bought at a good price compared to Walmart or it was something Walmart doesn’t have.

I ended up using $21.75 in coupons after doubling and I saved 55% on my bill after coupons and sales, bringing my total spent at Kroger to $36.87  Of course if I had just bought the mega sale items and free items(which those extreme coupon people do), my percentage would be higher, but I buy all things I can get at a good price together on the same receipt at the same time.

I spent $36.16 on the items from Sam’s.

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I spent $10.32 at Target on the following good deals:

  • the tissue was $1.39 and I used 2-$.50 off Target coupons to get the tissue for $.89 a box.  If you use the rectangle boxes, you could get them for $.49 after Target coupon.
  • printer paper was is on sale for $2.98 and I used a $.50 off Target Coupon to get it for $2.48.  This was a great deal and I wish I had printed 2 of the coupons!  To tell you the truth, I didn’t know the paper was on sale, but I needed some and had the coupon, so i thought I would check the price while I was at the store.
  • fruit snacks were regular price at $1.89, but I used a $1.00/2 Target Coupon for them to make them $1.39 each.
  • the stickers were $1 in the dollar section at the front of the store.  Every homeschool mom needs stickers.
  • the poise pads were $.84 each after a $3.00 manufacturer coupon paired with a $2/2 Target Coupon.  For .$84 each I will use these in place of the other pads.  They will all do basically the same thing in the end.

I spent $10.32 at Target after coupons and my 5% Red Card discount.  I have the Red Card Debit card that takes the money out of my checking account, gives me 5% off and free shipping.  Can’t beat that, and it’s not a credit card!

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I spent $70.06 at Walmart on the items in these two pictures.  I used only $.40 in coupons, but 40 cents is 40 cents!

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I spent a total of $153.41 on groceries this week.  It is $3.41 over budget, but I know I am pretty sure I will be under budget this next week as some of these items will feed us for more than one week.

We will be eating the following meals for dinners(watch out there is a couple new things):

Since this post is already getting so long, I’m skipping our lunches and snacks this week.   They are about the same as they usually are.

How did you do with your grocery budget this week?  Did you find any great sales?  Have anything new on your menu?  Leave a comment telling us about it, we love to hear from our readers.

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Newspaper Insert Coupons I Like

I just wanted to tell you about some recent and upcoming insert coupons that I like.  This weekend will be another good weekend for coupons.  There should be 4 total, but if you get coupons in your mailbox during the week, then you will probably only get 2 inserts in your paper.

I received my 2 Red Plum inserts in the mail and I like the following coupons (the dates are expiration dates on the coupon):

$.40 off two jars Ragu 2/24/13
$1.00 off one Vaseline lotion (20.3 oz or larger) 2/23/13
$.50 off any one Suave 2.6 oz deodorant 2/24/13
Buy one Tresemme shampoo or conditioner and get one Free 2/10/13
$.50 off one Lipton Cup a soup or soup secrets 2/24/13
Buy any two DiGiorno Pizzas and get one free up to $6.01  2/09/13
$1.00 off two Keebler crackers and/or Sunshine Cheez it baked snack crackers 3/24/13
$.50 on your next purchase Mahatma or Water Maid rice 4/30/13

Here are some of my favorites from the coupons that may be in the paper this Sunday 1/27/13 (keep in mind that not all areas get the same coupons):

$.50 on one box Cheerios 3/9/13
$.50 on three Dannon Oikos Yogurt 5.3 oz cups or multi pack 3/17/13
Hasbro game coupons

There is also a Procter & Gamble insert, but I have not seen it yet.

My favorites from the past couple weeks are:

$.75 on one Reynolds Wrap Foil 35 sq feet or larger 2/28/13
$.40 on two Rotel diced tomatoes 3/03/13
$.35 on Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap 8 oz or larger 2/09/13
$.40 on four Campbell’s condensed chicken noodle or tomato soup 3/15/13
$1 on one Hormel Natural Choice Deli sandwich meats or chicken strips 3/11/13
$1 on one Gain detergetn, Gain Fabric enhancer or Era detergent 2/28/13
$1 on one Wisk Laundry Detergent 45 oz or larger 2/24/13

To see upcoming coupons go to Sunday Coupon Preview.

If you want more of a certain coupon you can order clipped coupons for a handling fee from these sites:

Coupon Dede’s – located in Texas.  Fast service.  The list of latest added coupons can be found on the right side of the site.  Also be sure to check out featured coupons.  Excellent service.

The Coupon Clippers – located in Florida.  Takes a day or two longer to get than the above service.  Different areas and services often get different coupons or different amount of savings on each coupon.  Excellent service.

Please remember to check expiration dates when ordering.  Keep in mind that they may not always have the coupon you are looking for or may be out of stock at the time.  Check back regularly for what you need.

What coupons caught your eye recently?  need help learning about coupons?  See my series on The Basics of Coupons.  

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30 Ways To Save Money In 2013

Want to save money in 2013?  I have 30 ways you can save money to help save for your goals.  Maybe you have debt to pay off, or you need to fund an emergency fund or just want to save money.  There are many things you can change or implement that can help you save money.

Save Money
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  1. Drink water – forget expensive juice and sports drinks, water is free and healthy.
  2. Cut out paper products – paper products are expensive and are just going to get thrown away.  Why not help the environment while saving money and just use the dishes you have.  It doesn’t cost very much to wash the dishes or run the dishwasher.
  3. Try your hand at cloth diapers.  I wish I had been more frugal and educated about using cloth diapers when mine were little.
  4. Use cash – using cash lets you actually see how much you are spending.  When you just swipe that plastic debit or credit card, you don’t really realize how much you are spending.  It’s just harder to give up cash.  Don’t just get a bunch of cash out of your account, get enough to fund the categories in your budget where cash is feasible.  Put the money into an envelope for each category and only spend it for those things.
  5. Stay home – without the temptations of shopping sales, windows etc, you will ultimately save money.
  6. Unsubscribe – do you really need to get those sale alerts for those stores in your email?  It’s just really another temptation to spend money.  If you need to buy something in the future, you can check out retailmenot for printable coupons and online codes.  You can also check stores websites before you go.
  7. Get organized – how many times have you bought something because you thought you didn’t have the item and then wound up finding it later?  Getting organized will help you find things you already have, find things to get rid of and find things you no longer use that you could sell.
  8. Meal plan – just walking into the store and buying groceries without a list or plan is just a recipe for budget disaster.  I am sure there are a select very few that can go without a list and come home with just the items needed for a week of meals, but chances are you are like the normal shopper, you need a list and a plan.
  9. Freezer cooking – freezer cooking allows you to have meals made up and in the freezer ready to be cooked.  It’s a great way to ease the stress of busy days and nights we often have.
  10. Minimize your food waste –  use up what you have.  Cook only what you need or freeze the rest for a later date.  Make it a goal to not throw food away.  If you have leftovers in the fridge, eat them tonight instead of cooking something else.
  11. Use coupons – use coupons for items you already buy.  Check out my series on coupon use
  12. Ad match – instead of going to 3 or 4 different stores to get their great deals, you can go to Walmart and add match.  Be sure to read the ad match policy.
  13. Buy in bulk – you can buy items in bulk and split with a friend or freeze for later.  Just make sure it’s items you will use.
  14. Combine your errands – make one trip out if at all possible and get everything done while you are out.  This will save quite a bit of gas money over the course of a year.
  15. Make do – make do with what you have, make it work, can you go without?  Do you really need that new item?
  16. Buy used – if you find you really need something, consider buying used.  Shop thrift stores, ebay, craigslist and even tell friends what you are looking for.  Often times your friends may know someone that has that item to get rid of or even has one of their own to get rid of or lend you
  17. Keep lists – keep a notebook of lists of things you need to do, things you run out of and anything else you need to remember.  Keeping good notes (and having it with you all the time) will save you money by not making multiple trips as well as help you be more organized, which also helps save money.
  18. Make your own – have a bread machine?  Make your own bread.  Like Starbucks?  Learn to make your own at home.
  19. Make your own snacks – make homemade snacks (they are most likely healthier without all the preservatives) or bag your own small bags with a bulk bag and sandwich bags.
  20. Sell things you don’t need or use – try ebay, craigslist, facebook or a local means of selling.  Why not make some spare cash on things you don’t need at the same time as reducing clutter.
  21. Sell on Etsy – Have a craft you love to do?  Sew?  Knit?  Make t-shirts?  Invitations?  You get the point.  Etsy is a great way to sell handmade items.
  22. Have a yard sale – this is another great way to make some cash.  I would check potential big ticket items on ebay to see what they have been selling for before selling at a yard sale.  To check what items have sold for enter the item in search box and hit enter.  On the menu on the left of the page under “more refinements” click “show only” and then chose “completed listings”.  You would be surprised what items sell for.  Especially the things you think are worth nothing.
  23. Eat before you shop – going to the store hungry is bad for the budget.  You will buy things you don’t need or really want, but bought because you were hungry.  Eat before you go and carry a water to drink.
  24. Shop with a calculator – use a calculator so you know what you are spending or at least round the item and keep a tally on your list.
  25. Stop bribing your kids – kids don’t need a toy or candy every time you go to the store or every time they were good somewhere.  They are supposed to be good.  If you want to buy a treat, let them pick a piece of fruit or yogurt.
  26. Re-purpose and reuse – can you use something else instead of buying new?  Think outside the box.  Many times the best things come from outside the box thinking.
  27. Fix it yourself – try researching on the internet the problem you are having and see if it’s something you can do yourself.
  28. Buy out of season – buy a few key items of clothing for next winter while things are on clearance.  You can still find plenty of summer items on clearance right now too.
  29. Divorce the Jones’ – you don’t have to have everything everyone else does.  You don’t have to have the debt they do either.  Hang with people that have the same frugal values as you, or someone that can help teach you a bit about frugality and budgeting.
  30. Plan your budget – You need to plan where all your money will go each and every month.  No dollar or cent should be left alone.  For more on budgeting see my Creating A Budget Series and this recent post.

I know many people will read this list and think that these things may only save or make a little bit of money.  The truth is that small changes in a a few areas will add up to big amounts.  If you sold $300 at a yardsale, $300 on ebay and then made 10 other changes that save you $50 each over the course of a year, that’s over a thousand dollars.  Chances are you can do much better than my example.

In the next couple months I will be taking many of these items one at a time and breaking them down and really explaining them.  I hope you will join me for this new series called Practicing Frugal in 2013.

How will you save in 2013?  Have any questions or comments?  

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What will you be saving for?

Recently I talked about the goals we have for 2013, which included a few financial (saving) goals. In those financial goals we want to save for a couple trips, some home projects and big girls housing at college.

I didn’t include it on the list, but I also save my rebates and any found money for our fun account.  This fun account pays for things like our zoo membership, field trips, clothes for the girls, craft supplies or whatever we want to do with it.  It’s not always a large amount of money, but it is enough to do some fun things.  The girls love to get involved with how much money is in the fun account.  It’s a bit of a learning experience for them.

What is found money?  Found money is money I was not expecting.  It could be money I found in a jacket.  It could be money I received for reselling clothes or money I made selling things on ebay, or just a check in the mail from our electric cooperative for the previous year’s overpayment.

Save Money
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Do you wonder just how I am going to meet those goals?  What kinds of things will I do to save that money?

Today I am going to tell you my plans for adding money to these accounts.  Starting at the beginning of each month I will then update you on how I was able to do saving for these goals and any spending I did for these goals:

  • Trip Savings
  • College Savings
  • Home Projects
  • Fun Account

Things I will do or Ways I Plan To Add To Savings

  • Excess money on my hubby’s weekly paycheck
  • My monthly earnings from my very part time job
  • Rebates
  • Found Money
  • Ebay Sales (as I declutter the house I find more things to sell)
  • Consignment of clothes
  • Limit eating out
  • Continue to save money on groceries with meal planning, coupons, sales, stockpiling and homemade
  • Buy used whenever possible
  • Tax Return
  • Fifth Friday checks
  • Sell some large items we are looking to get rid of
  • Try lowering some of our monthly bills (satellite, phone, insurance)
  • Conserve energy (hang more clothes, turn off and unplug things not using)
  • Monitor our spending regularly so that we can make the changes needed

What are you saving for?  How will you save money for your goals?  Need some help? Come back tomorrow to see more ideas to help you save money.

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