Starting the New Year of Right: Live More

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to ‘live more’. What does that mean exactly? It means finding adventure in the everyday. It means living life instead of life living you.

One aspect that life has always lived me has been in the financial department. In the past, we’ve always lived paycheck-to-paycheck (haven’t we all in some point in our lives?). Slowly, over the years, as TMB and I have learned how to control our finances (instead of having our finances control us), we’ve moved away from that mentality. We still have a very long way to go, to be sure, but we’re getting there.

This year, I am going to try to get a tighter handle on our budget. Oh, I know where every penny goes. Some months I slack off a bit, things start getting a little out of control, and then I get back on track and get a handle on things. I would say 99% of the time, things are really good. But I want to tighten my budget.

Currently, I spend about $25 per person, per week on food (that’s $100 for those who don’t feel like doing the math). That’s pretty good. Figuring I do grocery shopping when TMB gets paid, I go to the store every two weeks. Rarely do I go back, although I want to change this to take advantage of some deals. Rarely, do we eat out.  We average about twice a month (usually on Sundays when TMB is off from work) or when we go out of town for the day.

Reading various blogs (I’m not going to list them here, visit my blog roll), I notice that a lot of women pare down their budget to half what I spend, sometimes less! They do this buy shopping sales and couponing.

Well, I’ve tried couponing. Several times. And I tend to go a bit overboard. I’m a bit like that new puppy skirring here and there, never really stopping at one spot long enough and eventually piddling on the floor. (Okay, I really don’t piddle on the floor – but I haven’t really focused on one aspect of couponing enough to really learn how to do it. I’ve bombed a few Walgreens deals and haven’t waited until an item I have a coupon for is rock-bottom before buying it). But I want to learn better this year. Will I ever get my budget down to $50/week? I don’t know. But what I’d love to do if I can’t do that is spend the same amount I currently spend and get more. That’s actually better, I think. All I do know, is that I currently buy my shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush OOP (out of pocket) and I know from reading various blogs that health and beauty is one of the easiest places to save money. I’m ready to get back on the saddle and learn.

And here is what I know:

  • Sunday papers a great source for coupons. You can buy them or ask friends, family, and neighbors for their inserts. Some women I know even go dumpster diving or ask stores to hold the inserts from papers that aren’t sold. (I’ve heard that this illegal, does anyone know?)
  • If you have a computer and a printer, you can print the coupons you want. Coupons.com is the main site I go to. Coupons reset every month and there is a set number of times you can print individual coupons. You cannot print out a coupon and then photocopy it as each coupon is specific to your computer. Besides, it’s illegal. Don’t do it.
  • Coupons work best if you use them in conjunction with sales.
  • In some stores, coupons double (or even triple!) My local Kroger doubles up to .50, but I think a Harris Teeter in Florida triples on Tuesdays. Get to know your stores.
  • You can use more than one coupon to get more than one product.
  • Just because Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS are pharmacies, doesn’t mean that great deals on food can’t be found at them. Do a Gooogle Search for ‘stockpile photos’ and you’ll see tons of pictures of pantries (as well as closets and spare rooms) that are overloaded with food that women (and some men) got for pennies on the dollar and even free.

There are tons of great online resources to be found for the person who wants to dabble in couponing (it’s really become quite the trend. Perhaps a sucky economy has an upside after all?) A Full Cup and Hot Coupon World are two message boards that have tons of great information about coupons. Be sure to check them out. Also, Coupon Mom has three FREE ebooks that you can download: cutting your grocery bill in half plus two couponing books.  Be sure to check those out, too.

In addition to using coupons for grocery shopping, I’m making it my personal goal to use coupons when doing other shopping as well. This Christmas, I shopped online (for the first time!) to get some gifts for family. I loved the ease of it. I didn’t have to fight crowds, get in the car to drive anywhere or worry about what time a store closed. I simply got online and shopped.

I had read about online coupons and never given them much thought. This year, I remembered and searched for online coupon codes. While I didn’t find a whole lot for where I was shopping, I did find ebates. Ebates is an online rebate site where you go through their site to shop and literally hundreds of retailers (including Walmart, y’all!). Each store has a percentage you get depending on how much you spend. (eBay and Walmart, you earn 2% while at Old Navy you earn 10%). I’ve done it casually and have gotten two checks from them. These checks can be cashed and spent anywhere. I plan on doing a lot more online shopping this year, so I expect to be getting more checks from ebates – they send them every three months. If you prefer, you can get paid through Paypal, as well – and if I’m not mistaken, they give you an option each time as to how you want to get paid. Comes in handy and gives a little spending money as well.

With more furloughs to come and doubt looming over the horizon, I feel it’s my personal responsibility to stretch our family’s income as far as I can. After all, when you think about it, coupons and rebates really are free money just waiting for someone to come along and snatch them.

Until next time…

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4 responses to this post.

  1. It sounds like you have a good handle on couponing. I have a coupon binder & all that jazz, but I have been lax lately in sorting my coupons. I’m working on getting back into it. I hate missing out on a good deal! Good luck with yours. Keep us posted as to how you do!

    Reply

    • I’ve done it all – binder, box and just keeping in the inserts. This time, I think I’ll go with the inserts again in conjunction with Coupon Mom’s database – it’s free, did you know that? Grocery Game likes to charge, but I think while that’s okay for the hard-hitters, CM works for me.

      Reply

  2. Couponing is a great idea in theory, but for me it always means I end up buying stuff I don’t normally use, and then it sits there cluttering up my pantry. I spend about $500/month on groceries, and it doesn’t seem to matter what I do to try to cut that down, it always ends up coming out to that. I would like to cut that down though – we’re only 4 people after all. More fresh, more deal watching, less prepared and boxed stuff (and junk food). Healthier that way anyway!

    Hope you manage to manage it!

    P.S. Beth Chapman? Really? *scary!*

    Reply

    • My goal is to make couponing as painless as possible for me. I mean, hello? I’m a full-time working mom and a part time student. I don’t have TIME to spend HOURS searching for deals.

      My personal goal to you, Jenn, is to share what I discover and hopefully, you’ll find something you can adapt that will work for YOU. (I’m beginning to think that there are some mamas out there – like us – who can’t always go with the rest of the crowd. We have to blaze our own trails! LOL)

      And yes…Beth Chapman. She’s out there, to be sure, but it’s not a bad thing. 🙂

      Reply

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