Sunday, January 11, 2009

Its not what you save, its what you spend. Lessons learned

I was thinking about the days when I was coupon crazy. I would sit for an hour shuffling through my coupons, looking through my ad's and planning my day to use them. It got me thinking about how much I really saved. And I came to the conclusion that I wasnt saving anything. Unless the item was free, it wasnt worth it.
First I had to gather coupons. From newspapers which I had to pay $1.50 for. Or scour the internet looking for them. Using up all my ink to print them out. Is it worth is? No, in my openion it isnt. Im paying $1.50 for my coupons? And wasting my ink that im gonna have to replace eventually because of it. My ink cost over $60 to replace. SO not worth it. So I stopped. I will only use ones sent to my home. And only for the brands I know I buy.
I would look at my reciepts and be excited because I would save a bundle. But I would spend alot. It confused me. Yes I saved $56 on my bill but still spend $30. My grocery budget was super tight the week before my husband would get paid. So I started thinking about it. If I bought things we needed on sale, I spend less overall. Yes, I would rather spend $5 than save $56. It saves me more. So dont be confused by the companies or end of reciepts that say you saved 55% off your bill. You still spend too much $. So I needed to change my way of thinking.

Most coupons are for non healthy items. Chips, crackers, premade food. We were not eating as healthy when I went coupon crazy. I just was thinking how much I was spending on things that werent healthy and how my money wasnt going very far. So I changed my spending habbits.
This is how.

Coupons-I went through my pantry and found all the brands I loved. Bobs Red Mill, Annies, Amy's, etc. I checked their websites out and requested any coupons they had. If they didnt have any, I cantaced them, told them how much I loved their products, and asked if they had any coupons and if they did could they send me some. Ended it with how appreciated I would be with or without them. 99% of the time I recieved coupons. Did you know that the ones they send you have expiration dates of over a year away? Yep. They need to have a longer one because they get request from so many people, they would expire before they could send them all out. Then I wait for the items to go on sale, and use my coupon. SUPER discount!
Produce I started buying only what was in season or marked down. I didnt go to the store looking for a particular item. Just needed a fruit or vegie. If apples were on sale or in season, I bought apples. If brocoli was on sale or in season, I bought brocoli. I worked my menu around those items. If they were marked down and I couldnt pass up the deal, I would take home and freeze for later use.
Staples-I call these fillers. Food that will fill you for a long time. Things like noodles, rice or what not. I used to buy boxed items. 1 lb box of rice, or noodles. Then I discovered bulk items. No packaging means better prices. I could spend 59 cents per lb for white rice, eat it and be hungry within 2 hours. Or I could spend 69 cents per lb for brown rice, eat it and not be hungry for 4 hours. Which would I choose? The brown rice. Healthier and keeps you full longer. So instead of buying preboxed 1 lb for $1.50 each, I buy bulk brown rice for 69 cents per lb. Make sense? Noodles the same way. We buy whole wheat noodles for just 10 cents more per pound, and save by buying bulk, and our tummies are fuller for longer. No more "Can I have a snack?" only 30 minutes after dinner. Saving me money.
Meat-Again this one is debatable. Most people dont want to buy meat on the bone. This is how I think when buying meat. Why am I spending $2 more a lb for meat just because it doesnt have bones? So instead of paying $3 or more per lb per meal, im only paying $1 per lb. Example:Chicken breast off the bone is $3.99 per lb in most places. Yes its easier to use, and quick to cook. But it cost twice the amount each meal. Making each meal about $8 for my family of 6. Instead of that I pay about $3-4 per meal doing it my way. I buy instead checken thighs for 99 cents per lb. 2 legs each meal. $1 per meal for meat. We eat dinner from 5-5:30 so I take my chicken, put it in a glass baking pan, cover it and cook for 1 hr. Then while its cooking I prep and cook the rest of my meal. Not only doesn this save me money, it is much more tender, and yummier. Plus an added bonus, I can use the bones to make my own broth. Boil the bones in water for 20 minutes, drain, and put in ziplock bags for later use. Not only is this free, its healthier. No sodium. I use this broth to cook our rice in adding much more deeper flavoring.
So yes, you can save $2 on a sale meat paying $5 or spend $3 on this other meat. I would much rather spend $3.
Same goes for everything else in your home.
Example: I have been wanting a wool walking jacket for months. Could of spend $100 for one easily at Gap, or Old Navy. Yes, I saved $50 because they were on sale. But if I waited long enough I would find something for less. So I waited. And waited. 4 months later, I fould the perfect jacket on that was only $39.99. Free shipping and I had a 7% off coupon from my entertainment book. So I paid around $35 for my jacket. So pay $100? Or pay $35?
Second hand clothing is a huge savings as well. My daughter needed shoe's so I looked for some on sale. Sketchers were on sale for $5 your $20 or more purchse. Making them $15 per pair. I have twins so this means $30 for shoe's. I found a pair of the almost identical pair of shoe's for only $2 at a thrift store. $2 or $15? You bet im gonna pay $2.
So I retrained my way of thinking. Before I buy anything, I think these questions.
Do I really need it?
Whats the total cost not the discount?
Can I find it 2nd hand?
What other way can I find this?
You can always come back!
You have more than 1 son or daughter, save old clothes from your oldest for the youngest. FREE! You have neighbors with other children? Ask them if you can have their outgrown clothing. FREE! Give them yours if you have any they will need. Tell your friends or family that your looking for something in particular. They can in return let you know if they see it 2nd hand or on sale. Or even better if they have it and dont want it. FREE! Ask for something you really need but cant find it cheap enough for birthday gifts or holidays. FREE to you!

Last but not least, think about it.
Would you want to save 50% on something and pay alot or spend only $5 for the same thing but only $5? I would much rather pay only $5. Get the idea? Rethink your spending habbits.

Before I spend $600 a month for groceries for a family of 6.

Then I rethought and came up with this plan. You know how much I spend this month on food?

Did we suffer in any way? No. Did I buy less food? No. Did my family even notice? No. Did I save any money? YES! $200 bucks to be exact!

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