Monday, September 17, 2007

The How Low Can You Go Challenge!

I downloaded a course on saving money at the grocery store from Crystal Paine about a week or two ago. I've been slowly working my way through the course and it's pretty good. I have to admit that I've already been doing many of the tips that she shares in the course but if you are new to saving money, this course would definitely help you. You can look it up at SupermarketSavings101 . The biggest thing that she talks about, that I've never been good at, is coupons and going to different stores. I've been trying to incorporate this into my shopping, but I have to say that I keep overspending. Another thing that is different than what I've always done is stocking up on things when they are on sale. I know that should be something that I do but to tell the truth, I've always just stuck to a menu, shopped for that menu, and kept myself from deviating from the If I do this, then I know how much I'll spend. When I try to stock a pantry, I seem to overspend.
That said, I overspent this week. I REALLY need to get a handle on this!lol
Here's what I did this week....
First, we went to Foodlion on Saturday night. We only needed milk, diapers, and Cheerios but I brought my coupons just in case. They had Cheerios on sale 3 for $5.00 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off 3. I also had diaper coupons which I used and got free wipes. They had 3 cans of baby formula on clearance for $3.50 a can and I decided to pick it up in hopes of giving it to someone who can use it because it's never that cheap for name brand formula! Anyway after all was said and done, I spent $82.97 and saved $31.39 in coupons and $15.90 in MVP savings. Yes, I was able to stock up on things that will last us over a month and it was cheaper than if I only bought it as needed but I still needed to do a grocery run for everything else on my list for the week.
Next, I went to Publix. They were having sales on Pasta, trash bags, sauce and I bought our fruit from here too. Last week I bought our fruit from Food Lion and we had a massive Fruit Fly invasion. Jon made a better fly trap and was able to reduce our fly population down to only a few per room but still, I can't do that every week. YUCK. All said, I spent $86.33 and saved $33.95.
After that, I should have stopped but I wanted to take advantage of the sales at CVS so last night at 9:30pm Eric and I had a date.LOL Now here's the neat thing. Whatever I bought earned me more money in extra care bucks and I only bought things we needed although I bought more than I would normally in hopes that I won't be going back for a while. I'm going to use the ECB's for milk or diapers for the next week or so and that will help our budget.
I bought:
Shampoo and got $10 back
Aquafresh toothpaste with two coupons and earned $2.00
Lever with coupon
3 tylenol products with coupons and earned $2.00
Easy up diapers were on sale $8.99 and I had a $3.00 off coupon
Burt Bees shampoo samples were on clearance and I got them for .25 a piece
Sunlight dishsoap on clearance .70
Once I was done, I spent $81.65 and saved $76.60 and earned $17.00 for my next purchases and got a coupon for $3 off a $15 purchase.
Basically, I went overbudget. I ended up spending $250.95 for the week total. That's what I normally spend for a week but was really hoping to lower my weekly bill instead of keeping it the same. I know that I have a lot of food stocked up now, but I wonder if I'll ever not have something that I'll need to stock up on? Will it ever really lower my bill or will I always need to buy a month's worth of something in order to get the better deal? I'm on the fence. I'm also having a hard time finding places to keep everything.LOL
So far this is how things are turning out;
Week 1: $147.00 (just buying sales, generic, and sticking to my menu)
Week 2: $212.51 (buying sales in bulk for a month, couponing)
$49.29 (shopping at CVS and earning ECB's)
Total= $261.80
Week 3: $82.97 (Food Lion)
$86.33 (Publix)
$81.65 (CVS)
Total for week 3: $250.95
I'm already seeing that I was saving more by buying just what I needed for the week based on the sale ads. Maybe I won't finish out the month with this trial. I don't think we can afford it right now.
For me, going to just one store, making a grocery list and menu based off the sale ads, buying generic when I can, and sticking to my list saves me the most money. Yes, I've gotten things much cheaper the past two weeks and they will last me for over a month but I've not saved money for THIS month and that's what I've needed to do. I've lost sight of that and will go back to my goal this next week.


gr8tful said...

Hi Lisa,

So far I haven't pursued coupons aggressively. I've found that I save more by sticking to generics and my menu. But I also build in pantry restocking to my biweekly shopping list. Occasionally on off weeks, when things go on sale, I'll pick up things here and there, but it's very more than $10.00, for instance. I'm grateful that Publix is getting much more competitive and I'm buying more and more from them rather than at the discount stores.

Cynthia said...

I don't usually shop very many stores either because I also have to consider the cost of gas to get across town to other stores and the time involved in dragging everyone into/out of very many stores.

One thing we do that I KNOW saves us a BUNCH of $$ is that we buy a 1/2 a beef every year. We end up getting hamburger for much less than the cost of hamburger in the store not to mention getting a much better quality as well. And, to top that off... we get ALL of the meat cuts for less than the price of burger in the store... steadks, roast, ribs, etc.... all for less than the cost of store bought burger. We've run out of hamburger nwo and I just put in an order for a 1/4 of a beef ground all into burger.

Lisa in Jax said...

I'm definitely going to stick to my list this next week. No more stocking up. It just made my budget even tighter this month and I've got to start budgeting in winter clothes for the kids. Ugh.

Lisa in Jax said...


I don't have enough room for 1/2 a cow and when I priced less than that, it was no better than the store. I'll have to keep this reserved for when we can afford a larger freezer. Thanks!

Mylinda said...

Hi Lisa,
I downloaded the same class from Crytal Paine and find that much of what she says,I also already do. I've always made a menu and list and stock up as needed. The key is to know your prices. I shop every week at Publix and BJs. There are certain things that are just cheaper at BJ's, and it's close to home. About once a month, I go down to Wal-Mart and stock up on shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deo, etc, which I find are definitely cheaper there than at Publix or BJs. I try to do coupons, mostly at BJs or Publix, but find that as long as I pretty much stick to the list, I'm good. I think I still spend more than I'd like, but I'm working on ways to make it stretch farther. Also, I hate going from store to store trying to find the best deals. To me, it's confusing and I forget which store had what on sale this week, etc, and I have too much other stuff on my mind to try to remember all that. It just gets frustrating. So, for me, it's easier to just stick to my 3 main stores where I know the prices and take advantage of sales and store brands there.

De'Etta said...

Lisa I also discovered I did better sticking to lower priced brands than I do with trying to shop coupons....

Lisa in Jax said...

So everyone has the same experience with coupons? I guess it'll be back to sales and generics for me.

Dorothy said...

When I lived in a country which did coupons my experience was better that the others'. I only used them for things I was definitely going to buy anyway and I joined a coupon swap club. I sent off all the coupons I didn't need and they sent me all the ones for products I'd specifically listed. I made very good savings. I remember getting lots of things for FREE that way. LOL! But I did invest quite a lot of time in it.

Also, the stocking up thing. It feels bad now but it will eventually pay off. There might be a week (month) ahead when you have some unexpected expense and your pantry will save you.{g} You might only need to buy fresh vegies and milk that week because you've stored so much. My advice is to carry on, but don't overspend.

Kristine said...

When I have used coupons, I would only use them for things that I would normally buy anyway. I usually check sales and hit a few (2) stores during the week, instead of going to both in one day. But I often try to use weekly sales as a place to get ideas for what my dinner plans will be that week . . .

Lisa in Jax said...

Thanks Dorothy! I think you're right. I think it will help in the long run. I'm going to try living off the pantry this week and just buy perishables. Maybe we'll have a low cost week this week.

Thanks Kristine!

Jodi said...

We too find sticking to store brands better than coupons in most cases, still worth looking them over though. I may try the course you mentioned but some ideas may not apply to those living in rural areas. Different stores are in different directions and no stores at all are in our town!

Don't feel discouraged at not going lower this month just keep trying. I haven't posted mine yet, life is insane but we haven't done wonderfully well. A little better though.