Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Grocery Game

When I became a full time stay at home mom six weeks ago, we knew we would have to come up with some creative ways to live well on less. We are still living on the same income that we were 5 years ago when we got married as college students. And our family size has doubled :)

I happened across this really cool frugal living blog a couple months ago called Like Merchant Ships and she got me rethinking how we spend our money. I have always been a big bargain shopper and love clearance racks and getting up early to head out to garage sales. I had never thought about our groceries and consumables being a place where we could save money. After all, we shopped at Wal-mart and used the generic brand of everything. I started doing more research on being frugal and found a book called "The Coupon Mom" at our local Jesus superstore for $.99! I decided I would try shopping the way she outlined and see if we could beat our Wal-mart prices.

I have been blown away by how much money we aren't spending! And how much more I have been able to buy! One of the best parts is that items are often free or more than free so I have been able to pass on lots of goods to a local mission our church supports. It's so cool!

The basic premise of the grocery game is that you match coupons with sales and store incentives to maximize your savings.

Just for an example, yesterday I went shopping and bought:
7 bags of Hershey's easter candy
1 venus embrace razor for her
2 3 pack Mach 3 razors for the hubby
2 Colgate toothpastes
2 Kit Kat Candy Bars
all for $.96!!

We don't need more toothpaste or most of the candy, so they got donated to a local mission and to my niece and nephews easter box :)

At another store,
I bought 4- 3 packs of Zest soap and 2 pillows for M's crib (he is old enough) for $5.36 with $12 in credit for my next trip to the store. Not to bad!

Groceries are a little trickier to get a good deal on, but we have switched to using name brands and are paying 30% less than we were spending on the generic version sold at Wal-mart. We also switched to name brand diapers which have turned out to be as little as $2 a pack!

One caveat is that playing the "grocery game" is time consuming. The first couple weeks I spent hours planning and organizing for trips to the store. Now that I have done it for 6 weeks, it's getting easier and we are spending less.

By the way, any coupons you don't want will be happily received at our house. I may even squel with glee... especially if its for diapers!

Just in case you are curious, the above photos are from a great couple shopping trips. Everything in the photo was free after coupons, rebate, or store credit except the cereal, hamburger helper, and paper towels. My total out of pocket expenses were under $30!!! I would have previously spent that on the 3 packs of diapers alone!