Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grocery Challenge Update - Week 3

My goal of not spending more than $40 a week on groceries has been going somewhat well.  The somewhat has to do with this past week.  I did great at the store itself, but on Monday I realized I didn't have any candy for potential trick-or-treaters.  While I never get trick-or-treaters, I know I'll feel bad if someone does come by (and there are several kids in my building, so it's a possibility.)  What a mistake!  I ended up going when I was starving and that ... is never a good idea.  I spent as much on that trip as I did on the stock-up trip and for half as much food.  The deli counter and prepared foods are the enemy of any budget, I think.

I've also ordered out a couple time, which has been my own fault, and I will be reaping the consequences.  I'm sticking to Aldi this week and only getting what I absolutely positively NEED as I do not intend to transfer money out of my savings just to cover my poor habits.  I plan on spending less than $16 this week and hopefully that will tide me over (except for milk and a few veggies) until payday, which occurs mid-month.

All in all, I'm finding it easy to spend less than $40.  In fact, I have usually spent less than $35 on groceries (including papergoods) for me.  Whether or not it's feasible on a long-term, however, is the question.  And honestly, I'm not entirely sure.  To do it, I'll have to continue to coupon clip (which is fine!) and comparison shopping.  The big hurdle will be the mid-week trips which, if I'm serious about this, I need to cut out entirely unless it's an emergency.  Oh, and not go when I'm hungry.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grocery Challenge: Week 1

This week, in preparation of not spending more than $40, I did a good bit of comparison shopping.  I went onto the websites for my two preferred grocery stores (Giant and Wegman's), CVS, Target and Walmart.  The latter two didn't net me much information grocery-wise, as the prices online are not applicable at my local store.  The first three, however, were a goldmine of information.  (And I am keeping the inserts for Target and Walmart from the paper I bought today!)  I even figured out how much more it would be to go to the cheaper grocery store (Wegman's) that is 20 miles from my house.  (I'd need to save $4.39 in groceries to make the extra miles worth it, gas-wise.)

I downloaded three separate coupon apps onto my phone (Android), as well as a spreadsheet onto my laptop that helps in figuring out how much I will spend.   I was prepared to spend $29.95 before tax.  I had input the prices I was willing to spend into my grocery list app as well, so I was ready!

Since most of what I needed was fresh produce, I didn't end up using any coupons this week, so I didn't take them with me.  That was a mistake!  I had a coupon for free eggs if I bought 2 packages of a certain brand of tomatoes, and lo and behold, I think those tomatoes were BOGO.  I might go back!

Despite a few things that didn't go as planned, I am pretty pleased with my trip to Giant. I didn't end up getting bagels because they were .80 more than I had anticipated (glad I had my list of prices on my phone!), but I did end up buying a pound of lentils that wasn't planned since my 'special rewards' indicated I would get .25 off any bag of dried beans, which I can always use.  My grocery store has those nifty scanners you take around with you as you shop so you can keep a running tally!  Sometimes special coupons will pop up for your trip and while most of it's stuff I don't buy, I have received a few good deals!  I just need to remember to check for it in the future when it pops up on the barcode scanner.

I also bought the newspaper since it was a double coupon issue - woot!  I am sure that my savings will more than make up for spending $3 that I didn't anticipate.

With my scanner coupon, getting $.05 back for each bag I brought with me, I spent a grand total of $29.05!  I have plenty to eat for this next week (and beyond) and I even got a treat for myself - apple cider.

I think that I just might be able to do this ...

What are your tips for keeping your grocery shopping trip to your budget?  Does your grocery store give special extras like barcode scanner gun coupons or cents off a gallon of gas?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grocery Challenge

Well, it has come to my attention - mostly through my own looking at how much I'm spending per month and comparing it to frugal bloggers like No Debt MBA and Money Saving Mom (even though I'm not a mom) - that I spend way way way too much on groceries.  And that's not even counting what I spend when I eat out.

I am single.  I have two rabbits.  There is no need for me to be spending upwards of $200 - at a minimum - a month on groceries.  None.  Absolutely none.

How do I know this?  Well, for one, No Debt MBA spends $25 a week for her and her SO.  That's half of what I was budgeting for one person (and I wasn't being very good at staying within my budget, in all honesty.) Half.

Secondly, I don't need to.  This week was a tight one for me as I came up on paycheck day.  I had a few un-planned (and unplannable) hits to my budget this month and I didn't want to take anything more out of my savings account.  So I didn't, and this past week I've eaten what I have.  I spent a little less than $10 at the grocery store last week because of it.

Therefore, I am giving myself a grocery challenge.  With some other unexpected expenses cropping up this month - and there being five weeks between now and when I get paid again - I'm going to have to stick to a budget this month.  I am letting myself spend $40 a week on groceries.  Yes, that's still a good bit more than a lot of other people, but if I can lessen it month-by-month it won't seem like such a drastic change.

So here are a few rules for myself:

1. Don't spend more than $40 a week on groceries - this includes paper goods and toiletries.
2. Shop around for the best prices.  I downloaded 3 apps onto my phone to help with this, though I don't know if any of them will be useful at all.
3. Eat what's in the freezer!  I've got a lot of stuff pre-made that I should eat.
4. Use what's in the pantry.  There's plenty for several meals in there.  (I should take a picture of this, once I organize it...)
5. Buy toiletries and paper goods at CVS/Target/Aldi.  Use CVS Extra Bucks to pay for these items as much as possible.

I think those are good goals for the first month.  We'll see what happens and how well I stick to it!  I'm going grocery shopping on Sunday, so I'll let you know what my totals are!

Do you have a grocery budget?  How do you stay within budget - meal planning, couponing?