Thursday, April 28, 2011

Couponing 101: Part 3

When I think back to before my couponing days I feel so embarrassed.

I was NOT fulfilling my role as a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, or mother.

It makes me cringe to think of the overspending I was doing by cooking just whatever I wanted to, buying things that were full price and without coupons, going OVER-budget with that spending... Now I'm saving us money off of our normal budget AND getting about 1/3 more in groceries and personal care items than I was before. Who WOULDN'T want to do that???

Now I know the feeling of happiness that comes with pairing a $1/2 coupon with a BOGO sale. Oh yes, the sweet smell of a deal... 

If you're a SAHM, then you likely have time to do this. If you're not a SAHM... you're probably not reading my blog. In the rare chance that I've reeled one of you in (cue evil plan music), YES, you CAN do this. I watch most of the deals on my phone (e-mail and facebook) and only go to the computer when I need to print coupons out.

I'm not saying that the desk is a lovely sight... or that all of my coupons are perfectly cut out and organized... but I'm still able to get er done. : ) That was for my Arkansas family that may be reading, btw.

So here's #3... HAVE A SYSTEM.

 Click HERE for image credit and an AWESOME tutorial on making your own pantry checklist

1) Budget.
- Have a SET amount (and be surprised when you come in UNDER budget!)

- Grocery shop when you're paid, not throughout the paycheck (you'll only get what you need) Stick to the list goes along with this.

- Control the cash flow
--- I've heard that taking cash in an envelope helps women take more note of what they have to spend. (I don't do this but hey, whatever works.
--- After I make a list of every SINGLE item I'm getting, I calculate the deals, coupons, and regular prices to ascertain what can be spent at each store. At the top of each grocery list (I normally go to FOUR stores!) I write the dollar amount I have to stay within... at the end of shopping, I add up what is in my cart (taking note of the cost as I go) and have even had to remove a few items! When I first started the whole couponing thing, I made a list of most things I buy and went on a price-finding mission to fill in that list with the prices at each store. Not fun, but it has helped me IMMENSELY!
NOTE: I have an awesome hubby who is willing to give up half of a Saturday every other week with me so that this can take place. If you are not in this lovely position, don't give me stink eyes.

2) Meal Plan
- Create a plan that lasts through an entire pay period (or longer, if you're adventurous)

- Base your plan on what's in your pantry, stocked up items, and deals of the week. If chicken quarters and bbq sauce are on sale, have bbq chicken! If you have tons of frozen veg stocked up, plan two meals a week with veg! If there's a box of rice-a-roni that's about to expire, use it now!

- DO be crazy and plan theme meals, breakfast for dinner and leftover nights.

- DON'T be a micro-manager and plan out the minute details of every bite that goes in your mouth. You'll stress yourself out!
-- Keep essentials for pb&j, grilled cheese, hot dogs, mac&cheese... on hand and you can mix it up for lunch. You know, playing it off the cuff... living on the edge... 
-- My children are all under the age of 6 so don't know to complain yet that I only give them fruit and milk for breakfast. HA! Fooled them! : D We do a hot breakfast on Saturday and cereal on SONday and a random day with muffins so it's not boring. Again, whatever works for you...
3) Eye-ball Your Pantry
- Create a list of items that you constantly use (every time I go shopping, I pick up a different stock item (flour, sugar, rice, cornmeal...).
--My list is laminated and backed with magnets, stuck to my fridge at this very moment. Whenever I get ready to go shopping, I refer to it to make sure I'm including everything.
 -- You can put little boxes on it and mark off items with a dry erase marker when you're running out of them, if you're so inclined.

- Watch for deals on those items specifically.
--- If toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, etc. are on your list of stock items, you would wait for a deal to come up then buy as many of that specific item as you can (not all in one trip, mind you... know your limits!)

Hope this has helped you... come back soon for more!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Couponing 101: Part 2

This may seem like the simplest thing in the world but people STILL aren't doing it!


Great Value is the Wal-Mart generic brand
(I do not own this image)

-- Buy generic items for everything that you can (unless you NEED Folgers like I do)... food, cleaning supplies, baby needs, paper goods, personal care... it goes on. They may not be in as expensive packaging and the diapers don't have that Huggies elastic strip, but they do the job and save you money!

-- Only use name brand coupons if they make the price lower than the generic (you'd be surprised how often they DON'T).

-- Often private labels like Krogers and Food Lion go on sale (while Wal-Mart generic does not). When canned vegetables are on sale for $0.40, I call that time to stock up!

If you're still having issues with buying generic, take a moment to evaluate the emphasis you place on image and esteem. A Walgreens brand diaper will catch just as much as a Pampers or Huggies, but it costs a fraction of the price. It IS possible to live within your means, save money, and present an orderly and well-disciplined image (which is more important than a costly one, I assure you). The next time you go to the store, compare the cost of name brand and generic milk, cereal, paper towels, french fries, mustard... and ask yourself if it's more important to be surrounded by status symbols or to assist your husband (you are a HELP MEET) in providing for your family?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Couponing 101: Part 1

New to couponing?

Not sure where to start?

Want to see hundreds of dollars melt off of your grocery bill?!?!?

I regularly see around $250 in savings and I have a growing stockpile and a full pantry.

Yep, I'm amazed too.

It's possible and it's nothing like the Extreme Couponing show on TLC.

Start here at The Krazy Couponing Lady with her Beginners section. She's Joanie from that same tv show but she's real, helpful and quick to admit it if she's wrong.

Come back tomorrow for more tips!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Still Alive! ... And Menu Planning

So... I *may* have disapeared for a while. It was for the best. I needed a break from the blog world to be a little irl (in real life).

And now I'm back a little more capable of managing my blog time!

Monday - DiGiorno pizza & sides (go here for a $2/1 coupon on facebook) I was lucky enough to pair two $4/2 coupons with a sale at Krogers!

Tuesday - sloppy joes and fries (Hunts sloppy joe sauce $10/10 and ground beef $2.99/lb at Food Lion - seeing a trend here?!?!)  : D

Wednesday - cinnamon rolls (They were on sale for $0.98 at Krogers and I had coupons!)

Thursday - Pioneer Woman's colby-bacon chicken sandwiches

Friday - tuna casserole, baked potatoes (YES that's TWO carbs!), crescent rolls (wait, that's three carbs... more for me!) ... crescent rolls were also $0.98 at Krogers

Saturday - Black-eyed pea gumbo and cornbread

Sunday - leftovers

Monday - DiGiorno and sides

Tuesday - P-Dub's chicken nuggets, homestyle mac & chz (try adding some Philly cooking creme in this!), vegetables

Wednesday - cinnamon rolls

Thursday - pasta and red sauce (sauce on sale at target for $0.95), salad, crescent rolls

Friday - hamburgers and fries

Saturday - bbq chicken, rice, corn on the cob (with guacamole and chips)
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