Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are Coupons Worth It?

The Wall Street Journal seems to think so. I don't think I need to give you my opinion on the matter - it should be very clear from this blog what I think. The fact is that, yes, coupons take time. Most things in this life are a trade off between time and money. If you have the money, you can buy yourself some time by paying more for conveniences or hiring someone else to do the work. But, when you find yourself short on money, you have to be willing to invest your time to change that.

Last month I saved $517.94 from both sales and coupons (this month, I've alread saved $571, and the month's only half over!). I probably spend 10 hours a week clipping coupons, organizing them, checking blogs, planning shopping trips etc. (I probably spend more time on blogs than I need to, but I enjoy being part of the couponing community) That works out to be about $13 / hour. And that time spent was at home, with my kids and husband, usually watching a TV show or movie at the same time. I can't think of any other job that has the perks or the benefits of couponing. Plus, as an added bonus, there's the rush of excitement in the check out lane when you see just how low you got your total.

Right now, I really feel I have the best job in the whole world - I get to be a stay-at-home mom and a savvy saver. It's pretty much...awesome :o)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

January Budget Wrap Up

Albertsons: (2 shopping trips)

Total Shelf Cost: $148.61
I Paid: $27.44
Savings: 81%
I am SO going to miss Albertsons - the last store closed and I am SO sad *sigh*. That's one of the reasons why I didn't stay under $100 last month - I just couldn't let these deals go by because I will never see ones like them again.

Rite Aid (2 shopping trips):
Total Shelf Cost: $78.90
I Spent: $7.95
Savings: 89%

Smith's and Maceys:

Total Shelf Cost: $52.70
I Spent: $27.74
Savings: 47%

Walgreens (3 shopping trips):
Total Shelf Cost: $100.00
I Spent: $17.09
Savings: 82%

Total Shelf Cost: $16.70
I Spent: $4.20
Savings: 74%

Total Shelf Cost: $92.06
I Spent: $32.57
Savings: 64%

Walmart (2 Shopping Trips):
Total Shelf Cost: $93.85
I spent: $29.33
Savings: 68%

I did do some price matching, which is totally evil, I know, but I had to go there to pick up stuff for a Primary activity and didn't want to make any other trips, so I did it. And I only feel a little bad about it.

Buy Low:

Shelf Cost: $16.35
I Spent: $6.31
Savings: %61

Sunflower Market:

Shelf Cost: $5.14
I Spent: $3.23
Savings: 37%
(FYI - The brown bag is flax seeds)

Shelf Cost: $41.32
I Spent: $6.44
Savings: 84%

Target, Buy Low, Babies R Us (very random, I know):

Shelf Cost: $29.72

I Spent: $7.94

Savings: 73%

We also had several small trips to Smith's where we picked up bread, milk, and whole milk yogurt. I also placed an order with for some Saran Wrap, because we were all out and I knew I wasn't getting to a store in the next few days and didn't want to make a special trip.

All told, in the month of January we:

Spent $197.22 on all groceries (food, household items, diapers, toiletries, medicine etc)

Total Value of Purchases (Shelf Cost): $714.66

Saved with coupons: $284.86 (don't doubt that coupons are worth the work!)

Saved with Sales: $233.08

Savings: 72%

At the beginning of the year, one of my favorite blogs had an excel spreadsheet to download that tracks all of these numbers - you just enter a few numbers in off your receipt and it totals everything up - I love it. I not only love seeing how much I save, but it's so much fun that it keeps me on top of my receipts so that I don't lose track of how much I've spent. I used to just keep a mental tally of how much I had left to spend, but I know there were things I forgot and that adds up. So, I'm loving this new spreadsheet because it's yet another way to save money.

Eating From the Pantry Wrap Up

Well, this is where the confession comes in - I pretty much failed at my eat from the pantry challenge. I wanted to keep our grocery spending under $100, and that did not happen - not even close. In fact, I spent $197! I fell off the wagon, big time. But, I don't really feel bad about it - maybe I should, but I don't :o) I knew that it would be very difficult for me to stick to a $100 budget and I'm not really surprised that I didn't make it.

I did succeed in cleaning out the fridge and freezer quite a bit (the freezer door actually stays closed now and things don't fall out when I open it!). I managed to go from 10 bottles of salad dressing in the fridge, to 5 (and 2 of those are almost gone). I also finished off lots of other odds and ends that were taking up room in the fridge and freezer: Hoisin sauce, maraschino cherries, marinated artichoke hearts (2 half full jars - what's my problem!), lots of cheese, BBQ sauce, sweet & sour sauce, 10 lbs of clementines, cranberries...and probably some other things that I can't think of at the moment. It feels good to clear out the clutter in there. So, in that regard, the challenge wasn't a complete failure.

In that regard, this challenge was really beneficial to me in that it changed the way I meal plan. I am much more conscious of what I have on hand and need to use up. It was fun to invent recipes that used ingredients that I had on hand - I haven't been that creative in the kitchen for a while - it was refreshing. For those reason, I'm really glad I took on this challenge.

I think I'll throw up a post showing everything I bought last month, just to show that some of the deals were just too good to pass up (and maybe justify my complete lack of self control).