After Philip and I sat down and figured out the budget it then became my challenge to see if I could fall below the budgeted amount. I enjoy seeing how far my money can go. But I'm not interested in reinventing the wheel. I have three children who are counting on me to spend the time and energy necessary to train and nurture them. So I rely heavily on others to do most of the time consuming work for me.
Saving on Household Items
Number one: Every item that we use in our home has two questions posed to it:
1. Is this item necessary? (would something else suffice?) What I find is that many times you pay for the convenience of an item. Example: paper plates are not necessary and can be costly but they are handy! The only time I buy paper plates is if I can get them free or less than .50 cents a package. Another example is laundry detergent. It's nice to just measure and pour but at .15 cents a load or more I decided that was an area that had to be cut. I have made my own laundry detergent for about 3 years and though it takes about 15 minutes to make every two-three weeks, the cost savings (at a penny per load) more than makes up for my time.
2. How could I have/buy/use this item for less? This will help you decide what are your non-negotiable. For example: I find that paper towels in our home are not really necessary. Their main use is for draining items that have been fried. Spills are mopped up with a rag and the rag is then washed. Hand soap is always diluted in our home. With children the soap is so thick that 3/4ths of it goes down the drain before they're even able to catch it so every when it's diluted not so much gets wasted and it lasts longer. This is the same for every liquid item...instead of a quarter sized dollop of shampoo how about using a dime sized portion?
Maximize your savings
1.The best way to save money is to buy items when they are at their lowest price. Most items come on sale every 12 weeks. When you stock up at those times then you're not having to purchase at a time when they are at full price. Building a stockpile can take some time but it's well worth it. Even if you don't have use for it at the time go ahead and take advantages of the sales while they're here. Particularly on items that are non-perishable. For some time Kroger was running a .99 sale on their 4pk of Cottonelle toilet paper. There were lots of coupons for .50 that were released (Kroger doubles all coupons up to .50) which meant I eventually had a 6 month stockpile of toilet paper that I got for free.
2. To maximize saving couple store sales with coupons. This is where some work is involved. I am a "couponer". Every week I get the inserts from the paper (ask neighbors or close relatives if they would mind giving them to you...or get your local paper) and file the coupons. You'll have to come up with a system that works best for you. Some people clip all the coupons and file them, others keep folders labeled with the week the insert was printed. The key is to use a system that takes a minimum amount of time to keep organized.
Now here's where my outside "help" comes in. I used to be a member of the grocery game and still highly recommend it to anyone who is getting started. It's a very easy/friendly system to use and well worth the cost. But for those of you who are looking for free comparable systems here are some of the ones I use:
Money Saving Mom
If you live in the South then Southern Saver might be helpful to you.
These are sites that tell you the sales and what coupons will match the sale.
I also am a CVS'er and a Walgreens patron. These programs can best be learned by reading this , this, and this. I know it's a lot of information to digest at once and I'll have to admit it took me almost a full year to finally get to the point where I'm comfortable with what I'm doing but it is so worth it. Read this testimonial! My Current CVS savings for Spring 2008 – $757.89
Total spent in cash for Spring 2008 - $15.68 You can read her story here.
Okay....that's probably enough information overload for now :o) I'll pick up with this topic next week and write a third part. Have a good weekend!