Plan to Save


Looking through my drafts, this was a blog post I wrote back in 2009 but never published. Funny how in just three short years, things have stayed remarkably the same.

Okay, so the economy looks pretty darned bleak. Providing you haven't lost your job (and even if you have), you're still feeling a bit of a pinch - even if you do have all of your ducks in a row financially. Everyone (no matter how much they have in their bank accounts) have had to make a few adjustments. I think those of us who tend to live paycheck to paycheck have to make the most tweaks.

Do an Internet search for frugal blogs and you will find a lot of good advice. (Be sure to sneak a peek at my blog roll to find a few of my favorites). But here is my tidbit:

STAY OUT OF THE STORE!

I realize this sounds very...strange. But the fact is, if you plan all of your purchases, you will save money. And Rule # 1 of saving money is don't spend any!

A couple of months ago, I started taking my own advice. I would only go grocery shopping once a week (it used to be every two weeks until The Man Beast switched jobs and started getting paid weekly). Once a week. That's it. Lately, I've been grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons. I do a full week's worth of shopping - usually at one store, sometimes at more than one if the deals are really sweet (lately, they really haven't been).

What if you forget something? What if you run out of something?

If I forget something - of course I go back out. But since I've been shopping by a list and keeping to the list, I rarely forget something - unless it didn't make it to the list in the first place. If it's something that's imperative to a meal, I'll see if a substitution can be made. If it can, I'll use it. If it cannot, I'll have to go out and get the missing item.

However, if the missing item is something 'extra' that isn't necessary for any of the meals that are planned for that week, we go without. We also go without if we run out of something.

I'll give you an example. I have a dish washer - two actually, if you count The Boy. The Boy and I share kitchen duty. (Lately, he's been doing all kitchen duty in an effort to raise spending money for his trip to Orlando with his class in May). Since The Boy spends the most time cleaning the kitchen, it's his responsibility to tell me if we run out of something.

Last week, The Boy forgot to tell me we were running low on dish washer detergent; halfway through the week he ran out. He told me, but I didn't do anything about it. I told him that I was only going to the store once a week and I meant it. For the rest of the week, he was 'forced' to do the dishes by hand. He's still alive and even brushed up on his dish washing skills in the process.

I plan my other purchases, too.

We have a local store that gives discounts to members under the age of 49 on Fridays. The kids are going to need a few things for Spring - shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. I could go out and buy them right now. Instead, I'm choosing to wait until Fridays to go and look around. If I stack a sweet sale on top of my 20% discount, I'll save a good chunk of change. However, if I were to go out right now and go to the nearest store to buy these items, I might not save as much as I could have.

Why? Because convenience costs money.

I am convinced the reason we reach for convenience - stores, foods, etc - is because we fail to take that little bit of time to plan.

Believe me, I've had really great weeks when I have some cash left in the checking account after I've taken the time to plan. I've also had weeks where I haven't planned as well as I should have and I end up scraping the bottom of the barrel by the time The Man Beast gets paid again.

I urge you all - plan, plan, plan! I certainly don't claim to have it all together (most of my blog roll peeps have it together. This is why I am soo not perfect).

Tomorrow, I'll share some of the tools I use to plan and manage my money.

Until next time...

I need to put the shelf-clearers on speed dial


I'd like to start out by saying that yes, I am a tad bit bitter about my shopping trip on Saturday. I think I have every right to be. But ultimately, I'm going to put on my big girl panties and deal with it because that's what I do. (After all, I'm raising a teen and a soon-to-be pre-teen. I have to set a good example for them and teach them the right way to act as an adult. Never mind that I really wanted to pitch a fit in the middle of the floor, kick and scream until I got my way.)

Saturday, I went coupon shopping. I haven't been coupon shopping in quite a while and decided that Saturday was going to be the day I did it. (Let me first back up and say that I went to the Piggly Wiggly on Friday night to grab a few deals. .99/lb tomatoes? Yes, please!)

With gas prices creeping up toward $4/gal, I figured I'd make a giant circle in my shopping exersion in town. First, I hit Wal-Mart. Then, I would hit Harvey's.

The Man Beast and I are getting back into the swing of things as far as coupon shopping goes. He read online where you should put a "price" on your time. He and I figured $10/hr. I spent about an hour going through the sales/coupon match ups (SouthernSavers.com and Coupon-Wizards are my two favorites). So, I figure I need to say at least $10 this shopping trip (plus the slight amount of gas I will use).

So, I head to Wal-Mart. I want to get the free Reach floss and Hydro Silk razors. I don't because I can't. They are all gone. Local extreme couponers have hit again. And if this weren't enough, I drop all my coupons in the middle of the isle. (Luckily, I brought only the coupons I was going to use for that trip in that store, but still, it was about 20 coupons. Completely embarassing.)

This is what I end up getting at Wal-Mart. (My savings weren't as high as they could have been because I stopped by the dollar bin to pick up a few Easter items for Baby Girl.)

My non-food before-coupon-total: $34.98
My non-food after-coupon-total: $26.58
My best buy - Up2U gum: $0.28

My food before-coupon-total: $33.32
My food after-coupon-total: $24.57
My best buy - Panko bread crumbs: $0.82

Total savings: $17.15

Next, it was on to Harvey's. It was a real quick trip.

My before-coupon-total: $47.68
My after-coupon-total: $27.25
My best buy - Dunkin Hines cake mix: $0.30

Total savings: $20.43

Total for both trips (before discounts and coupons): $115.98
Total out of pocket: $78.40
Total Savings: $37.58

So, I made the $10 for my time, plus an additional $27. Was it a great trip? No, not by any means. But it was saving something. It is a step in the right direction.

A few thoughts on my version of couponing:

  • I won't go out of my way to "chase" a good deal. Even I know that great deals come around about every 12 weeks.
  • I won't buy obscene amounts of mustard a la Extreme Couponing.
  • I will buy four items (to go with my four coupons) and that is it. (If I have a BOGO coupon, that total goes up to 8 - not 200).
  • I won't buy Depends just because they're free. I don't need them. One could argue that I could donate them. True. But I'll leave that little tasks to the extreme couponers (which I hope are not hoarding). I'm realistic to know that I rarely run errands outside of the ones I absolutely have to run.
  • I am not the least bit organized. I adopted the whole-insert idea (see statement about the "price" of my time).
  • This is how my brain works: If I buy shampoo at $2 each after my coupon and receive a Catalina, Register Reward, Extra Care Bucks, or Up Points worth $2, it does not make my shampoo free - I still paid $2 OOP (out-of-pocket). It is for this reason that I find a lot of couponing sites very annoying. OOP spending is OOP spending. It is money that cannot go toward a bill, savings, or haircuts.
  • This said - my favorite coupon sites are: Coupon Mom, Southern Savers, and Coupon Wizards. Check 'em out!


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Note: I was *not* compensated for this post in any way, shape or form. I'm simply sharing some linky love.

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