I set a budget every two weeks for groceries. Basically, for a family of five and two dogs, I budget 175.00 for groceries per week (350.00 every pay check). I am not sure if this is high or low for other families comparable to our size, but I know that my growing twins boys and teenage daughter eat through our cupboards which are bare by the end of the two weeks when I get paid again. This also includes non-perishable items and cleaning supplies like laundry soap, dish detergent, deodorant, shampoo, and dog food. One bag of dog food is nearly $20. The items add up quick and on the last few days before my pay check comes, we are usually eating frozen foods or canned soup. My past spending habits at the grocery store vary. Sometimes, I have been very attentive to sales. food prices and bargains. Other times, I am in a hurry and items simply go in the cart so I can get the shopping done and get home, especially if I am shopping after work, it is cold outside, and I am tired. For the past year, my daughter, Lizzy has been my grocery partner. I actually look forward to this time with her and we always guesstimate the total cost of the bill at checkout. Since we have moved into our new home, expenses are a bit higher here and I am really having to stick to a tight budget to pay our bills. We have had some unexpected emergencies come up (furnace going out on Christmas Eve, Jeep needing a new water pump, Jeep needing a new tire, a root canal, and a crown – all within a month), so I am re-evaluating all of my bills and trying to create a budget that will allow our family to eat well, but not cost so much! My thinking is that if I can just shave my grocery bill down about $50 a month, I can take that $50 and start my emergency fund (thank you Dave Ramsey) and start paying down some of the other bills.
I have discovered some very cool couponing websites that have taught me a few things about coupons and have started saving me some cash at the register. I am not sure if I have saved the $50 yet, but I am seeing the benefits of saving a few dollars here and a few dollars there. First, I do most of my grocery shopping at Meijer and Walmart. The first discovery I made is the Meijer mPerks Digital Coupons. I am usually in such a hurry at checkout that whenever the cashier asks me about mPerks, I just shrug and say “No, I don’t have any.” I saved 5% off my entire Meijer grocery order last week just by signing up for mPerks. I will attach the link at the end of the blog so that you can go on and sign up! I also discovered digital coupons. What is cool about this, is that you can go on the site, check mark the coupons you want to use, and then print off your grocery list. Then at check out, you enter your mPerks code and all of the savings are deducted as you check out. Yesterday, I called my mother and got her signed all up.
Another very helpful website that I signed up for is the Grocery Coupon Network. There are actually videos you can watch to explain how to start saving with coupons. I was amazed to learn that there is actually a whole couponing world that exists out there. I watched the very basic video on how to get started with couponing which I found to be extremely helpful. The most important first step is just to start by making your grocery list. Then you go onto both the Grocery Coupon Network website and the store website (Meijer, Walmart, Target, etc) and start clipping and printing your coupons. Do not clip coupons for items you would not regularly buy. This is one of the ways you will spend more money at the store, not less. Try to find items that are already on sale at the store and you have a coupon for. Lizzy and I bought to mascaras for the price of one at Walmart last week. Another great place to get coupons is in the Sunday newspaper ads and when you are looking for something in particular, just go online and type in the item name and see what pops up. I use a higher dollar lotion on my skin in the winter for dryness, and I was able to find a coupon this week by simply doing a Google search for the brand. You can also save lots of dollars by filling your prescriptions at particular stores (like Meijer and Target) and then earning rewards towards your total grocery bill. For instance, the kids and I recently got our flu shots at Target and signed up for a rewards card. I just received a 5% discount for our next grocery bill.
I am learning so much about couponing. My plan is to watch some more of those coupon videos and see what other strategies I can pick up. Some of you may already be experts in this area, but I am just amazed. I never paid attention before. So far, I estimate over the last two weeks, I have saved about 20 dollars total, but that is 20 dollars I can put towards something else. I am going to track carefully over the course of a month to see if I can reach that $50 dollar savings plan. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, after reading this blog, you need to now go to sign up for mPerks and Grocery Coupon Network!