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2.03.2010

Thrifty Tip Tuesday (except that It's Wednesday...)

So, along this whole posting regularly thing, I decided I want to post a weekly thrifty tip. And doesn't thrifty tip Tuesday sound catchy? Except that I just thought of this today, and it's Wednesday. So this week I'm a day late. Odds are good this won't be the first time:)

This is not a "deal of the week" kind of post. There are plenty of those floating around so I would probably only be posting something someone else has already posted (Little People Wealth is a great place to look for things like this, BTW- see my blogroll under "thrifty"). These are everyday changes you can make to save you money.

The first one is what I like to call "the big one." If you've already been working on saving money you probably already do this, or at the very least you know about it. But, for the benefit of anyone who is just starting on their thrifty journey, I am going to start here.
Shop the ads and meal plan! I used to shop every two weeks and would spend $220-$250 (that's $110 to $125 a week). I thought I was being a smart shopper at the time, which is the funniest part to me now. I bought generic. I looked at price per unit. I only bought what I needed (although I rarely made a meal plan and even shopped without a list on occasion).

Then I started shopping weekly and shopping from the ads. Each week on Wednesday when I get my weekly sales ad I look at what's on sale, starting with the meats on the front page- the front page of the ad usually contains what you call the "loss leaders." These are items that the groccery store has mega reduced, sometimes even at a loss, in order to entice you to shop there because they know you'll likely buy other stuff, too. I have a price limit per lb. on meat (I'll post how I figured this price out in a future thrifty tip!), so if there are meats at or under that price limit those go on my list. Then I go through the remaining pages and look for sales I can match with a coupon. ***BEWARE- don't buy an item just because it's for sale and you have a coupon! Unless it's free or ridiculously cheap, you should STILL check to see if generic is cheaper (it sometimes is) and make sure this is an item you will use. Also, I don't feel that using coupons is vital to this process unless you use a lot of processed foods.*** The end of my ad lists produce specials, so I put those on the bottom of my grocery list.

After making my preliminary groccery list I start working on my menu plan. I look at the meats and produce that I have already listed and plan my meals around them. It's simple, but often I have brain farts and can't come up with anything. This is when a site like Recipezaar can come in handy. This site allows you to type in ingredients or combination of ingredients and shows your recipes containing (or not containing) those ingredients. I usually only plan dinners and for lunches and breakfasts simply keep staple items on hand (cereal, eggs, bread, lunchmeat, cheese, tortillas- we also eat a lot of leftovers for lunch).

Last, I look over my menu and check the recipes to make sure I have everything. If my meals for the week require me to buy a lot of things that AREN'T on sale and I DON'T already have on hand then I change the problem recipe(s). Then I add the few items I do have to buy and estimate how much they will cost me.

OPTIONAL (but I feel important) STEP: Based on the prices listed in the ads and the estimated prices of other items (items that aren't in the ad- some store, like stores that have delivery, list prices online, but looking up prices would take too long for me!) I add up everything that I have listed. If I come in under budget then I do a little dance! and then check staple items that might need replenishing (rice, grains, oatmeal, flour, toilet paper, etc) and add these to the list. If I go over I have to get rid of something. This step is ESSENTIAL for me because I have a difficult time representing numbers and amounts in my head and if I don't add this up I'll think I'm way under, grab impulse buys, and end up going over my budget.

None of this is in any way revolutionary. It is mostly based on a conglomeration of tips that I have acrued over the years. But I really wish that someone would have presented it all to me in one place 12 years ago when I first started living on my own, or 5 years ago when I got married. Of course, what works for you may be a little different, but it's better to have a jumping off point like this instead of being thrown to the sharks as I was (grocery-shopping wise). However, due to my constant thriving to save more money and to get more for my money I can now say that I am far and beyond a better grocery-shopper than my mom- if one can quantify something like that.

1 comment:

LittlePeopleWealth said...

Thanks for the shout out!

I try to menu plan, but I always run out of time :( It seems like it gets pushed to the end of the day/week and then I just skip it. I am hoping to be better about it this year!

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