Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thought Provoking Thursday


Sometimes I think that spending coupons can bring out the most competitive spirit in each of us! If you are anything like me, I like to watch every grocery/household purchasing cent that I spend, because caring for the needs of my family has become more of a "game" to me!

I've learned, that playing this "game" to the best of one's ability, requires these "skills:"

1. START by taking a good look at where you are NOW! How much are you currently spending to feed and care of the basics in running your household smoothly? Honestly, is the key to future success, review your receipts and evaluate where you are and where you'd like to be, financially speaking.

2. COVER YOUR BASES: Take inventory of the items that you already have on hand (how many bags of FREE Green Giant Steamers are still in your freezer?), and what items your family uses most frequently. For the 'constant purchasables,' like toothpaste and laundry detergent, stock up for 6 months to a year's worth of these items at a time (of course, when they are deeply discounted) and keep from having to purchase at less than spectacular prices for longer periods of time.

3. MOVE FORWARD: Think towards future purchases! How will you continue to slice and dice your grocery/household purchases? Will you purchase toilet paper and shampoo from the drug stores (even though the prices are much higher) because you can spend your store rewards on these essential items? Will you purchase more fresh produce this summer to freeze for the slim pickin's days of winter produce? Will you try some new recipes in order to eat more often from your stockpile?

4. HOME: Have you created a home environment that successfully cares for every need that arises for your family while keeping an eye on your budget? Do you eat well, do your kids enjoy special treats (if your kids know that they only get those special treats if you have a coupon for those items, raise your hand!!!) and is your bathroom cupboards and fully stocked with enough toothpaste to last you to 2011!

And here are the last two essential elements to happy 'gamesmanship...'

TEAM SPIRIT: Shop for the good of those outside of your immediate family! Planning and purchasing items for others who may benefit from your generosity will always have a win/win effect!

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP: Don't get wrapped up with someone else being able to spend less than you... length of time spending coupons, number of family members, types of foods purchased, and personal shopping habits all factor into who spends how much (or how little)! Focus, instead, on improving your standards for yourself!

Have YOUR ideas of shopping changed since YOU began spending coupons? Do YOU view shopping as a game?

8 comments:

Danielle

Hi Laura,
I agree that everyone has their own spending style and value of time spent verses hitting every deal at different stores to use a coupon. If I plan well and go to a few different stores then I will in the end save more money. However, sometimes with a husband and three kids that just is not possible therefore once in a while I spend more than I would like. I do find that I will get a little discouraged at first when I see how others saved but I quickly look at what I have done for my family as well as helping our budget and I feel that I did what I was capable of doing at that time. I really enjoyed reading this blog from you today because it helped to put it all in perspective. It is nice to know there are others out there who understand what it means to be a mother and wife running a household and helping others. Keep up the good work!

Julie

I think of managing the grocery budget as more of a challenge than a game. I used to get discouraged when I'd hear about someone saving some huge percentage. After I reflected, though, I realized that I shop at some places that don't do "sales" or coupons, places like a farmer's market where the price is the price.
Instead of focusing on my percentage, I now focus on how far under my budget I can get each month.

Ellen

Good post. We are a large family and have a fairly large budget for food/cleaning/toiletries/otc meds all wrapped into 1 bigger category. We also have some dietary restrictions and some personal preferences (not too many of those though!) so our budget may include some things that other people's do not & vice versa. I can ALWAYS work on and want to improve our budget - lowering our monthly amount is a goal. Sometimes I read about a family paying only $25.00/week on food (just as an example) & get discouraged but then need to step back and ask...hmmm? How long have they been stockpiling? How much time do they have available to them? How many people & what ages are in their family? Etc.

I appreciate your thoughts - thank you.

Laura Webber

Danielle, Julie and Ellen,
Yep! You ladies are doing a great job caring for your family and keeping a cool head about saving! Keep up the good work!

Christine

Before deciding to stay at home with my girls I was a Budgeter for a large corporation. I love crunching numbers and finding creative spending solutions. Couponing is right up my alley! It is kind of a game for me but also FUN! I have been able to share tips with family and friends and I also find that very rewarding.

I have only been couponing since Thanksgiving and there was a huge learning curve. For the first two months I was driving around like a mad woman finding every deal I could even if it was a product I did not need or would never use. I feel like I am in my groove now and know how to maximize my time and purchases.

I do not get sad when I see other's spending is less than mine. Every family has different needs and what they purchase might not work for my family. I am thrilled with what I am now able to accomplish with our household budget.

I have to say one of the best tips that has saved us the most money was from you! I now primarily shop manager specials for bakery items, produce and meats. It has saved us so much and no coupon required :) Love this blog!

Laura Webber

Thanks Christine! Keep up the great shopping!

Monroe on a budget

If you want to get a realistic idea on how good your grocery shopping skills are, regardless of the tactics, then compare your grocery budget to the Cost of Food study at the USDA site. You can look up your size family and demographics on the charts. Set your goal to put your grocery expenses at or near the "thrifty" range for your size family. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm

Lauren

Monroe-
Thank you for that link. I looked at it, and was amazed that the average for my household should be $350 (it's just me and my husband). In no way do we spend that much, and it's great to see how far below we are.