Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Starting to save... first tips

Ok, I'm still new to this whole blogging thing. I have a lot to learn about blogger yet. So like everything else, I'm going to start small.

People always ask me how we save money. We are definitely NOT role models (just look at our dining-out budget!) Here are some tips for getting started.

Stock up when it's on sale. Before last spring, when cereal went to $2 or lower, I'd stock up, especially if I had coupons. I've been able to cut that figure almost in half now, usually getting cereal for $1 box or lower, thanks to knowing how to use coupons now. We go through a lot of it. On my expired trip to Cub a few weeks ago, I got cereal for .35c a box. On average, though, I pay .75-$1.25/box. My goal is to never, ever pay more than $2 a box.

Name your top 5 or ten.
Make a list of things you go though a lot of, spend a LOT on, or that you know have significant sales prices. Start out with those as your top priority to save on. These, in our house, have been:

Diapers
Peanut Butter
Bread
Eggs
Meat
Uncle Ben's Wild rice

Generally, anything under .20c a diaper was a good deal, and a stock-up deal if it was around .18c. Little one had a sensitive butt and couldn't use generics, and Pampers and Luvs leaked, so we had to be brand loyal to Huggies (regular or Supreme) or the Pampers Cruisers, if we had to. (funny our older one couldn't use Huggies, lol!) Make a mental (or actual!) list of these figures for these products in your market. And stock up....see next item!

Use the Expiration Date as a guide. Estimate how much you will use of that product before then and load up and don't be shy. I did this with the Uncle Ben's wild rice boxes that usually run $2 a box when I could get them for .75c/box. They had an 18 month shelf life so I bought about 10... to last until April 2009. Guess what. There is only one left in my pantry from that purchase. Another example. Last spring around Earth Day, there was a sale on Poweraide. Since DH wasn't drinking pop then, and we had lots of outdoor projects to do for the summer, I knew we were going to be getting a lot of it. Last year I paid $1 a bottle for it because I hadn't prepared. This year I looked at the "x" date of Nov. 2008. Figured 1-2 bottles a day and came up with 180 bottles. That was a little out of our budget, so we got 90... At .70 bottle, AND a free 24-bottle case of Dasani bottled water for EVERY 10 poweraides. (and if I bought 20 powerades and 2 cases of water, plus the free items (loaf of bread and a re-useable bag) I hit the $25 mark and got the free items... so I did that 4 times!) $63 for 90 32 oz Powerades, 9 24-pk cases of Dasani, 4 loaves of bread and 4 re-useable shopping bags. Too bad Cash Wise limits their free items to one per family now :(

Many people just buy 2 or 3 of the item when its on sale instead of one. Really think about it. Every time you do this you are locking in that good price instead of going out and buying it at full price when you find out you need it. (of course, you have to weigh the savings against how good the sale is, how frequently it goes on sale, how much room you have to store it, and how much cash you have) This used to mean spending a LOT extra money for us. Now, not so much, because we can live off our pantry for a while while we spend our cash loading up on another item. We also save time because I don't HAVE to go shopping every week. We started small. Mostly with those things on the list up there. And don't kick yourself if you realize you "messed up" and didn't take advantage of the deal or paid too much. Its a process. In the next round, you'll do better!

Oh, and one last thing:
WIC. I miss being on WIC. Please people. If you qualify for it.... GO FOR IT! You wouldn't deny yourself a tax write-off, would you? If the WIC is available for you, use it. Their primary focus is nutrition, and it was easy to have the nutrition bases covered when we were on it. Yes, we could have gotten by without it, but it gave us the ability to make our $$ go further, which is always a blessing. For those of you who don't know, if you are pregnant or have a child under 5 you may qualify. When you qualify you get free formula (9 small cans/month) several gallons of milk, a few pounds of cheese, eggs and peanut butter. I found a way to use all of that stuff, even if I didn't think I needed it. I'd use the Peanut butter in the next time we had to bring a dessert... Cheese on tortilla chips instead of some other snack, etc.

I haven't even TOUCHED the issue of coupons yet but I better call it quits!

2 comments:

  1. Really good points! I'd have to actually pay attention to the sale ad now wouldn't I? :) Thanks for the challenge.

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  2. Hehe, yes, that would be helpful! Many of the national chain stores have forums on Hotcouponworld.com where people have taken the time to find the deals and coupon matchups for you. I add Cash Wise deals now and then. I usually have time to find them for myself, but not always time to publish them on HCW.

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