Monday, November 2, 2009

Question from a reader...

ON Eagle's Wings wrote: I really want to be better at finding deals and I come to you to see how you do it. I feel like I have to start off with a lot of money. To start to stock up on walmart rewards,target cards,andswagbucks, and whatever else. I have six hundred dollars a month to spend i can never seem to save any at the end of the month for fun stuff like candles,gifts, or what have yous. We have six people in our family. I'm not sure I'm asking the right question for you. If I can think of a better way of saying how I feel about it all I write again.

My response: Hi Eagles Wings, First of all, $600 should be plenty to live on for a family of 5. What is your menu plan? What are your price limits? How much stockpiling do you do?

If you are just getting started, the first thing to do is decide on a menu plan and price limits. Food that is inexpensive, fits with the budget and uses loss leaders.

Example, my target trip. I bought 4 boxes of cereal. Most people will buy one or 2 boxes each grocery trip, shopping 3 out of 4 weeks a month. If they pay the price of $2.66 each for 2 boxes for 3 weeks ( total 6 boxes) ...that's $15.96.  But if they buy 4 boxes on sale, then they have the Target coupon and $1.00 off each box coupon, then the total is $2.98 and they did this twice in the same week to add to their stockpile, you are then at 8 boxes at $5.96. Saving you $10 and getting 2 more boxes then the regular shopping trip.

I hope that makes sense.

Here is another example:
I went to my Walgreens. They had hang tags for .50 cents off one bottle of Sobe Flavored Water. I grabbed 3 ( typically I grab 3 coupons, not more so that others can have some too!!). Then when I went across the street to my Sentry ( who doubles up to 50 cents), they had the SOBE on sale for $1.00. I used the 3 coupons and grabbed 3 waters for free. So, instead of grabbing a bottle of soda at the gas station on the way to work. I just grab a free flavored water and I am on my way.

If you continue to do that again and again, adding those little extras to your stockpile, eventually you will build up such a good pile that you don't need to spend so much at the store.

Another example: Logli's had bags of veggies for $1.00 on sale, I had a 40 cent off coupon that doubles there. So I paid 20 cents a bag. I gathered up 13 of those coupons and stockpiled veggies. Now, I can make menus around those veggies and not spend full price on veggies for awhile.

So, I am sure you are asking HOW did I get 13 of those coupons. Well, I ask the ladies at church to save coupons for me. I get 2 papers at my home. My mom and MIL saves coupons for me. I also trade coupons if I can. :) I don't buy coupons!! I know many people who do, you have to decide what works for you!

How do I find the sales? Typically, after my kids go to bed, I spend about 45 minutes surfing different websites, store ads, and my email to find bargins. Some bargins are just by chance, others take a lot of planning.  Lot of this is a lifestyle change. We live without and make do without. I WILL never pay full price things. I just refuse.

An example: soda. We don't buy coke, pepsi or other high priced soda. We will, as a treat, once in a while, buy root beer or white soda. A 2 liter bottle is 79 cents at our Super Walmart. OR a 12 pack is $2.39. I will buy the 12 pack because soda at work is 75 cents a can and I get the "I wannas" every now and then. That is $9.00 a 12 pack. We only drink generic and I make that 12 pack stretch until my next grocery trip! Which means about 2 or 3 cans a week.

I hope this helps. I get lots of emails where they aren't quite sure what questions to ask. I will just keep posting what I do and pray and hope that it helps someone out there.  I really just want all of us moms ( and dads!) to be able to support our families, stop the debt cycle that is crushing us and enjoy our lives!!

Stay frugal everyone!!!


On Eagles Wings said...

Thank you for responding. I reallize it's a lifestyle change. Maybe that's part of our problem. I'm trying to spend more time on planning and looking up deals. We get one paper I'm tempted to buy two. Also someone told me to subcribe to All Yours-apparently they give out great high priced coupons??? I know six hundred a month should be enough. But for some reason we are not doing it. It's frustrating. We live between rockford and Jansville and I try to make only one trip a month to one of the places. Usely Janesville because the have everything and cheaper taxes. But then we have a vallies in Rockford with dirt cheap fruits and veggies. So I try to go there every week so I can get fresh fruits and veggies for less than 15$ a week. I feel that's a great deal. Before trying to do this we would grocery shop at woodmans- another favorite spot of ours. I find that generics are much cheaper than the things you get coupons for.What do you think? To do the all day running from store to store is doable but can be very paninful with four children. They are good, but I know that's asking a lot of them. AS far as a stockpile goes we don't have one except for peanut butter(we stocked up on that when we were on the WIC program.) I know we run to walmart to many times- that's rigth down the street- for last minute things I forgot. That doesn't help us i know. I would love to cut our expenses down to 400$ a month so we can start saving. We never feel we can save. This last month I thought we were doing well, until all my children got the flu.Then we were making trips to the drug store for tylenol, and cold medicines, white soda, and crackers. Again it seemed Generic was the better route but it still added up. I also am bad when the holidays come up. With a large family 8 grandparents, 18 cousins,12 siblings and spouses, not to mention babysitters,teachers,and others. We love to give.But this year I really feel like we need to say no and try a Christmas with no gifts but maybe a nice note/card, or a gift that we have around our house(used but good). I want us to do this but it is extremly hard to do. I keep thinking what a good lesson for the kids and ourselves. Anyway I'm blabbing now. There is a lot on my mind with all of this. I know it's all about what we think is important, letting go of things and embracing the future knowing that things ahead will be good. God is good. thanks again. I'm off to try some deals this morning.

Frugalmommie said...

I must agree that ALL YOU magazine has great coupons in it most of the time. I wouldn't go buying a bunch of papers if you can get some friends to give you coupons.

I have to disgree (kinda) that generic is ALWAYS the cheaper route. For me, that hasn't proven true. I can get free or very cheap name brands with coupons and loss leaders. If I can't find it, then I will buy generic. I buy about $50 a month from Aldi's when I do my big runs.

You should stockpile!! Running to Walmart every time you need something what is causing you to spend so much. Also, you need to ask yourself, DO YOU REALLY need it?

As far as the kids getting sick. There are tons of coupons and RR or EBC deals that I can easily beat generic prices. Also, I stockpile cold/flu meds so that when a child gets sick, I am not running out and buying things. Recently, They had cold medicine on clearance at Walmart. It was good until Jun 2010. So, I bought 2. Glad I did, my son had a cough and cold a few weeks later. Used about 1/2 bottle and I have another bottle to get us through winter.

As far as running all day with the kids. I can totally relate. I have 2 children. Here is what I do: Ziploc baggies of snacks, leapsters and if they behave good, I will treat them to lunch. (typically with their BOOK IT free pizzas or Free McDonalds Happy meals).

Frugalmommie as been on WITI FoxNews6 Television Milwaukee, WTMJ620 Radio, Several local newspapers, The Wisconsin State Journal, and is in a feature article in All You Magazine in the April 2009 edition.