Sunday, January 6, 2008

How I'm spending (or saving)

Growing up, I used to love clipping and organizing coupons with my mother. I'll never forget the day that my younger sister opened up a box of Honey Nut Cheerios (they were pretty new on the market)and it had more Honey Nut coupons than Cheerios. They kept coming, and coming. There had to have been at least 100 all with no expiration date. I would bet there are still a couple of those in my mom's coupon tin. Good memories...

As an adult, I have been on again off again with coupons. I've had organizers and methods. I remember introducing my husband to them when we were first married. It was the one way I could send him to the store and not have him call to ask which brand of sour cream to buy. But then I was off again.

In the past few years, I've been focused on eliminating debt including our mortgage. I found a seminar with a County Adult Education program that both my husband and I attended. To me a lot of the principles were no brainers and something I already knew, but it was a great eye opener to my husband. It was like we were finally getting on the same financial page. I was introduced to the concept of an "accelerator". At the time, we had 2 car payments and a mortgage. The SUV and mini-van were both free financing for 5 years. Great, huh? Well, only partly. I had quite a bit of money saved that was earning next to nothing in the bank. I also had a year end bonus coming in a few months. I took some of the money I had in savings and payed off the SUV. Wow, it was an amazing feeling not to have to a required $400+ monthly payment. The coolest thing was that I know had $400+ to accelerate the mini-van payment. In 4 more months with the accelerator and bonus money, I had paid off the mini-van almost 4 years early. I was amazed at the sense of freedom it gave me. I then started working on the mortgage.

While we have certainly accelerated our mortgage, we've encountered some speed bumps along the way. Daddy became a contractor and later started his own business. Those of you who run businesses know a little about net 30 and net 45. Unfortunately, you probably also know a little bit about chasing down those payments well after there due. As you can imagine, you have to learn to operate a monthly budget on what you know will be there. We've also set a very aggressive savings goal over the next year. There is a grand plan you see. So, I've become even more focused on stretching our funds.

You guessed it, I'm back to couponing. I'd actually missed it. I've always enjoyed working with numbers and couponing is such a numbers game. I match the coupons to the sales. I scour the weekly ads to see what I can buy that we need for the least amount out of pocket. The past few weeks have been very good. Daddy is stocked on deodorant, manly bathwash, fancy shaving gel, and razor blades all for pennies on the dollar.

As for groceries, I typically save 30-40% on my grocery bill. We don't do a lot of convenience foods and eat out rarely.

Sunday, I really scored at Kroger. I had 2 prescriptions to fill and a coupon I had received in the mail a couple months ago (fill a prescription get $20 in groceries for up to 3 prescriptions). I did my grocery shopping and returned to the pharmacy. The pharmacist rang up my prescription and loaded $40 on my Kroger card. I went to the register to check out.

I bought:
4 12 packs of Charmin
4 Method Hand soaps

1 8lb bag of baking potatoes
2 packages of frozen mixed vegetables
1 bag of frozen broccoli
1 bag of frozen peas
3 boxes of Chex cereal
2 blocks of sharp cheddar
1 tub of pampers wipes (for Sissy's preschool class)
1 4 lb Beef shoulder roast
8 lbs of pork tenderloin
1 vitamin water (I was thirsty)
1 large bottle of whole dill pickles (Daddy's favorite snack)

My total savings was $88.58 or 71% (Kroger plus and coupons). I got $125.11 worth of groceries for $36.53 out of pocket.

I showed DH the receipt when I got home. He wanted to scan it and send to his mother. He was that impressed.

A great resource you may or may not be aware of is e-Savers. You can load Proctor and Gamble coupons directly to your Kroger card. It's a nice accompaniment to your paper coupons. My good friend Sharon, of The Domestic Betty's called one day so tickled to tell me that she had discovered e-Savers. We have quite the list of printable coupon sites and this was such a great add!

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