Mondays With Mavis…
This year I went to a few extremes to reach my goal of spending an average of $100 a month for groceries. I did a little dumpster diving, a little bartering and a whole lot of coupon shopping. When I originally set my goal back on January 1st, 2011 I’m not sure if I actually believed I could do it. I liked the idea of saving a ton of money on groceries, but I felt putting my plan into action and following through with it was going to be a little tricky. And it was at first, but after the first month or so saving money became rather routine. It was more a test of willpower than anything else.
At the beginning of the year I was going to Rite Aid every Sunday for free toiletries. Back then you could print $5/25 Rite Aid coupons pretty easily online through Redplum.com. But times have changed and sometime around April I stopped shopping at Rite Aid pretty much altogether. My cupboard was full with enough free toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues, band aids, ointments and cough medicine that I was set for the year.
As for the rest of my shopping? I primarily shopped at Albertsons when they offered doublers. Each week I would first go through the ad and find items I could get for free. Then I would go back over the ad with a fine tooth comb and see what I could pick up for mere pennies with my coupons. I had a system. And it worked. I know my system is not normal, nor would the vast majority of people chose to do it. But it worked for me. It still works for me. It is how I have grown accustomed to shopping: free, almost free, and then full price.
Anyway, here is what I picked up this past week:
In Early December I was able to pick up a ham for Christmas dinner thanks to the Albertsons gift card promo they were running at the time. I knew I wanted to make split pea soup with the leftovers, so I bought a 1lb bag of peas & a gallon of milk at Fred Meyer last Monday for $3.57.
By Thursday we needed milk. But I knew my funds were limited so instead I resorted to whipping up a batch of powdered milk I had in the back of the pantry and decided to pick up a 15 pound sack of potatoes, 8 oz of provolone cheese (for panini sandwiches) and 5 tomatoes instead (yep, it came down to powdered milk. But there was no way I wasn’t making my goal!). My total came to $7.64. I quickly handed over my $5 off coupon and then scrounged around my purse for the remaining $2.64. If I would have been able to use the $5 off coupon towards liquid dairy products, I would have.
By then I was down to $1.36 for the rest of the year and there was no way on earth I was going to blow my budget at that point.
I told myself I was not going to walk into another grocery store until January 1st. And I didn’t. Wait. I take that back. The Coupon Fairy did go to Albertsons to take photos of doubler ideas, but Mavis did not. 😉
Overall the experience has been great on so many levels. It taught me frugality of course, but it also made me very aware of how frivolously I could spend my money. I would recommend it to anyone looking to cut back on expenses. Even if you don’t have a garden, can’t barter with your neighbors or think dumpster diving is just plain gross, you can do what I did on a smaller scale. The idea is to set a goal and stick to it. It might not be easy and you might hate me for planting the idea in your head, but 12 months later I can tell you with absolute certainty, IT WAS WORTH IT!
Check out how adopting a frugal lifestyle and clipping coupon has changed our families budget over the years:
In 2008 I spent $9,768 on groceries. An average of $814 a month.
In 2009 I spent $7,584 on groceries. An average of $632 a month.
In 2010 I spent $5,004 on groceries. An average of $417 a month.
In 2011 I spent $1,198.64 on groceries. An average of $99.89 a month!!