Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thrifty grocery shopping

SCORE! Here's a picture of my grocery receipt from a couple of weeks ago. It's not nearly as good as this week's Meijer and CVS receipts, but it still illustrates my point. (I spent $75 at Meijer during the week of the above receipt.) 

For a few months now (six? eight?) I have been very consciously trying to get our grocery bill as low as it will go. This involves shopping at several different stores, watching the grocery ads like a hawk, and couponing. For a family of six, we spend $575 per month. Not bad, but I think I can get it lower. 

My strategy so far has been to visit Hot Coupon World and view next week's ads for the grocery and drug stores in my area. The folks that post on HCW scour their coupons and post which sale items can also be paired with coupons, reaping even bigger savings. I keep a little list next to the computer, and I take copious notes. 

On Thursday nights, after I've gotten the ads in the mail and scoured them again, writing all over them (circling things I have coupons for, figuring out per-unit prices, and the like) I make out my grocery list. With my freezer inventory next to me (so I don't over-buy), I make a list each store at which I'll be stopping. For items on sale, I write the brand & per unit price next to the item, so that I can compare prices while I'm at a competitor. I put a star next to anything for which I have a coupon, and a circled star for items that have coupons, but might not be as cheap as another brand. (It's a trigger for me to pull out my calculator and do some in-aisle figuring.) And did I mention that I put my list in order according to the layout of the store? That's so I don't have to backtrack and be tempted by impulse buys. Some other things that help with my system: 

1. All of the stores at which I shop are on a circular route - I drive pretty much down one main thoroughfare to get to all my destinations. It takes less than a gallon of gas, but about 2 hours. I also do our banking and drop off recycling during grocery trips. 
2. I get most of my coupon circulars for free. My mom gives me her old coupons, and sometimes her neighbors share their (mostly uncut) circulars, too. I often have duplicates of the same coupon, which enables me to stock up on a good deal. 
3. I only take Grace with me to the grocery store. There are no husbands throwing snacks in the cart, and no children begging for things or running up & down the aisles distracting me. I am a bargain-hunting machine. 
4. I am NOT brand-loyal. I do have standards, and some things that I just won't buy (we don't eat beef, I try to eliminate as much high fructose corn syrup as I can, I don't buy chips or soda or other junk food, and I want as much whole grain as I can get my little hands on), but I really have no preference for a particular toothpaste brand, or shredded cheese brand, for example. 

Yes, it takes a long time for me to make a grocery list, and shopping takes time. I look at it this way: my husband works HARD for his paycheck. It's my job to make that paycheck stretch as far as I can.  And what else would I be spending this time doing? Mindlessly watching TV, or playing on the internet? I choose to be productive with my time! 

This week at CVS, by combining sales and coupons, I got 5 packages of deodorant and a package of 8 AA batteries for $7. That's just what I'm saving at one store. I think it's paying off! 

Now I just need to tell you about my beloved clothesline...

Monday, June 16, 2008


I have to share with you the cutest, most adorable little girl EVER! This is my daughter Grace - isn't she perfect? 

Gracie was born in December, eight days late. Was she worth the wait? I think so! Her brothers adore her, her father loves her, and, being the first girl in the extended family in a loooong time, I know she's going to be spoiled to pieces (especially by Grandma.) 

One of the great pleasures in life is to have a baby. I love her adorable little fat rolls, the cute noises that she makes all day, the smell of her hair, snuggling up to her at night, waking up to her smiling, happy little face in the morning. I'm soaking it all up while it lasts, because I feel that her babyhood is slipping away from me so quickly. She had her first solid food today: mashed bananas. That feels like such a big step. I just wish I could hold on to this day, and that she wouldn't get any bigger. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Logging in...

I've been trying to log into my new blog for several days, now. I haven't had any luck, because I couldn't remember my password. I have such a tough time remembering all the darn passwords that go along with my life: my passwords for online banking, my passwords for various websites which I use to pay bills, my passwords for different email accounts, my passwords to log into bulletin boards, my passwords for my ATM card, DirecTV account, and the latest - in addition to a password, we now have a verification question for our cell phone account! Not only do I have to remember my passwords, I have to remember the answer to this darn question, who the question applies to, and how to spell the answer. Like anyone is that darn interested in my cell phone bill!

And every site has different parameters for passwords. Some are case-sensitive. Some want numbers and letters. Some want at least eight characters, some six. Is it really that crazy-dangerous that someone might *gasp* see how much my power bill is, that I have to encrypt it with eight numbers and letters that don't repeat, aren't my birthday or my social security number, and share no characters with my name? (And if you've seen my whole name, you know what a feat that is!) 

Am I the only one that thinks this may be going a bit too far? 

Monday, June 2, 2008

A new path

I've been thinking lately, hmmm'ing and ummm'ing about starting a blog. I've read a few blogs of others: some women who blog to chronicle their families' lives, some women who blog about cooking, or environmentalism, or faith, or housekeeping. I think this blog is going to be a big catch-all. I'm blogging for all of those reasons. I hope that I have the time to do it!