Thursday, November 6, 2008

How I Shop..Part One

It's been a very busy week and I'm sorry it's taken me all week to get this post out. One thing or another has kept me from being able to sit down and focus...even now, I'm taking the time while Philip is talking to his mom on the phone. I try very hard not to be busy with other things while he's at home. He works so hard and sacrifices so much so I can be at home with our's the least I can do.....I love you and appreciate you so much, honey!!

I've thought and thought how I want to share my couponing and shopping and money saving strategies. I'd like to say that I've got it all figured out and I never spend a dime I don't have budgeted. I'd like to tell you that I'm an avid saver and we are debt free with an awesome bank account..but, alas.....I would be lying to you and so I'll start with the truth.....

I LOVE to shop!!!!! I LOVE a bargain!!! I'm the crazy lady who buys10 packs of chicken thighs because I'm afraid they'll never be 88¢ a pound again! I'm the lady with 15 tubes of toothpaste because I found a sale, had 3 coupons (but even without the coupons it was a good deal!) and had to stock up. Cheeze Its for $1 a box??? Give me 5 please!! THAT is my downfall...not being able to turn away a bargain. Not turning away a bargain has often caused me to overspend, which, since I'm confessing here, is probably my greatest sin. Honestly.

About a year ago I was struggling with that very thing and knowing I needed "help". I needed to find out how other people made ends meet, paid off debt and put money in savings..on one income. I'd heard story after story about folks who would take their coupons and buy $150 of groceries and only pay $5 or $10 for them. I would think to myself, "It can't be done!", and then I would beat myself up for a while.

Thankfully God got hold of me, wore me out, tore me away from my pity party and He and I began a journey that we've been on for a year now. I've looked back more than once, but thankfully His Holy Spirit quickly grabs my attention and puts my focus back in perspective.

So where do I begin?? This is how I shop......

Like I said before, I only buy real groceries every two weeks. In between that time, I may have to make a run for bread (if I've gotten lazy and not baked any for a while. Anyone interested in learning how to make homemade bread?? Let me know..) or dog food but not much else.

In our area, as in most, the Wednesday paper has all of the sales flyers for the grocery stores in our area. Since we have the paper delivered, this is easy for me to get hold of. If you don't have the paper delivered, then I would highly suggest buying the paper on Wednesday and Sunday. Sunday's paper will usually have sales flyers for KMart, Target, Walgreens and CVS plus those very valuable coupons!!

Usually on Thursday afternoon, I will sit down with my diet Dew, my sales flyers, my coupons, my calculator and my shopping pad. Our food budget doesn't waver too much....I usually spend $250-$275 on 4 people. Let me make you aware, I'm talking 2 adults and 2 teenagers..15 &17...the 15 year old, being my 6' tall, 230 pound son who doesn't know the meaning of the words, "I'm full"! I've read about many people who only spend $30 a week on 4 people. That used to get me down until I realized that 2 of those people are under the age of 3!!!

Anyway...I meticulously go over each sale, noting on my pad only the things that are a very good bargain. I write the name of the store and under that write each sale, the price, how much I'd like to purchase, total that, figure the tax and write down the final tally. I do that for each store that advertises. I'm fortunate to have all of the stores within 2 miles of each other, so going from store to store isn't a problem.

After I've written down the sales, I will go through my coupons and see if I have any that match up with the sales. If I have some, I paper clip them adjacent to the sales flyer for that store.

Once that is done, I retrieve my running grocery list that we keep on the microwave and head to the laundry room, each bathroom and our pantry to see if we're out of anything that didn't make it to my running list for some reason. (Explaining the running list will follow soon..)

Once I'm satisfied that I've covered all of that, I head back to the table to plan my strategy for the next day. Yes, this usually takes at least an hour, sometimes more, but at this point in time, I'm saving an average of at least $50 a pay period. Not bad for an hour or so of work, if I do say so.

In my next post, I'll share how I break down my shopping day, and begin trying to explain shopping at CVS (a must for those serious about saving!!).


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