Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Grocery Game

This post is inspired by Rachel's recent post. (who, by the way, is the winner of the Spring Clean 2008! Congratulations Rachel!)

Last weekend we needed some groceries and I had a Visa gift card with a balance of 38.22. I was determined to spend only the amount on the card - and was on a mission. After cutting and gathering coupons, looking through ads, and making my list I headed out. This is what I came home with:
1 bunch of seedless grapes
3 grapefruits
2 whole "natural" chickens - reduced for quick sale - cooked one on Sunday, froze the other
2 boxes Lucky Charms - SO DANGEROUS. It's impossible to keep a box around for very long. :)
2 boxes Cheerios
1 Bag Chips
2 bags of cheese
2 gallons of milk
1 bag frozen broccoli
10 containers of yogurt
4 oranges
1 Dawn Simple Pleasures Dish Soap
1 Bottle of Cascade Dishwasher Soap
1 package of Cascade Action packs
1 container of Mr. Clean Cleaning Wipes

The total spent was 38.79 - (I had to do some digging in the car's change compartment to get the last .57)

According to the receipts, I saved 31.86. This does not include the four dollar "register rewards" that I received at Walgreens, the two dollar coupon I received for my next purchase of cereal at Randalls (aka Safeway), and the two 1.50 coupons for Pampers that are on the back of the Cheerios boxes. That's an additional nine dollars in savings.

I love finding deals like this. It totally makes my day. However, it is very time consuming and there is no way I could have done it all with a toddler in tow. With the prices of gas and food on the rise, I am even more determined to shop this way.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey and his Financial Freedom program, we have come a long way in budgeting and managing our money in the past two years. The area that I struggle with is budgeting for our food. I can figure out how much to budget for (thanks to Quicken) but need a system to actually carry it out. I find that it's easier to use the debit card, however, it is a lot easier to spend more than I had planned.

Here are my questions for you. If you budget for grocery shopping - exactly how do you carry it out? What's your grocery shopping system using coupons and ads? And, if you have a smaller family is it worth shopping at places like Costco and Sams?

6 comments:

Rachel said...

Way to go, Rebecca! You did so well! We, too, have implemented new budgeting measures since taking Financial Peace University online. Since DR we have gone to all cash for purchases we make (except for gas). This has really made me be much more careful. We receive pay every two weeks. Without fail I spend 75% or more of the budgeted amount on the first week. I'm still refining my system, but I try to scour the ads, pull applicable coupons and make a detailed list before heading out. We started with the envelope sytem that came with our FPU registration and now I have made my own envelope system with envelopes I print put in a little Covey planner/binder that zips. I have room for all my store cards and other stuff in there, too. We do have Costco and Sam's memberships and I think we get our value from them. Even if you bought tires once you would pay for that year I think. I find good deals at clubs on meat, cheese, honey, yeast, bananas and apples and seasonal closeouts and good prices on frozen foods that are easy to fix (and necessary for the end of pregnancy and early weeks with a new baby). I find I do better at clubs when I plan to do mass cooking sessions after visiting them and then end up with lots of entrees in the freezer. Sorry for such a long comment...oops. Hope you're doing well!

Rachel said...

Oh, another savings at warehouse clubs is the photo printing, if you are pleased enough with the quality.

thehomespunheart said...

Yeah! Great job - way to set a goal and stick to it!

I have a goal of $35/week for groceries. But, I will say that my father-in-law loves to grocery shop and brings lots of food to our house too.

I know that I could do better in this area too because I currently clip all the coupons on Sunday that I think I might use. Then, I plan a menu and THEN look at the local ads to see who has things on sale. I could do better by planning my menu around what is on sale.

I have been known to put things back if I'm over budget. Here is a great trick I learned that has helped also - some stores have this thing for Buy One Get One Free sales that you can buy one at half price instead of buying both. I often only need one of the item and it helps stretch my budget! You can ask at your store or watch when it rings up - if one rings up half price then you know you can do this too.

I've never done the warehouse shopping thing - so don't have any advice to give you on that.

I've done my shopping all over and have come to this realization. Wal-Mart is my least favorite place to shop - but it is the cheapest overall. My favorite place to shop is Publix (like Safeway) and they have the most gorgeous produce and excellent sales. So, I usually combine and do both.

Wow - I wrote a book! Keep up the good work!

*carrie* said...

Rebecca,

Great job! We listened to all the FPU CDs and were really inspired. We use the envelope system each month, so have a certain amount of cash allotted in the food and household category.

Living in a small town we don't have big chain grocery stores that are as competitive as what I read about on blogs. I do use coupons on some items, especially cereal and snacks.

Mom2Drew said...

Groceries is where we blow it big time. We do find that with the warehouses you can save if you're careful. The problem is leaving with way more than you need and there goes an easy $100. Here's a tip I have for you. Buy the brand X diapers for during the day, saving the Pampers/Huggies for night time. For us, it's worked quite well, you just have to be diligent to remember.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

If I were on a super strict budget I would not go to Cosco or Sam's Club.
But, we're a little spoiled because we like the giant boca burgers and the organic peanut butter. We also stock up on trash bags and toilet paper so that I only have to buy those things a few times a year. That part is nice.
Way to go with the grocery haul.
If I don't have time to combine sales/coupons I just run into Aldi or Save-A-Lot.