Who are you calling CHEAP?

In 2009, The average American spent $2,619.00 eating food away from home. That’s a lot of money and could very well be towards a car payment, a better apartment, things for your home or even a vacation!

I’m really cheap … although frugal is a much better word. I think I built up the obsession at one point out of necessity and then for the thrill. There is something about getting in the line at the supermarket and seeing your bill come down from over $200 to under $100. It’s a little rush for me. My goal is always to save 50% or more at the store and I do that almost every time. Of course Ccelli loves it … he gets all the treats he wants and saves a ton of money!

A lot of people ask me how I find the time to clip coupons, cook, and shop. For me it’s an essential part of life. I spend about an hour every Sunday going through coupons and finding deals. If that hour translates into $100 in savings, then I was just paid $100 an hour for grocery shopping and to me that’s a win.

And the cooking thing? I need to do it for myself, it calms me, I feel better about the food choices, and people seem to enjoy it. So I will always make time to cook. I am firm believer in homemade bread and I am trying to cut out all processed food, items packaged in tin, and some day, maybe dairy. I have switched to coconut milk in everything but I can’t seem let go of cheese and butter.

Shopping for the best deal instead of shopping out of necessity is a huge stress reliever in life. I know for me, I don’t like “running” out of things. If I go to get paper towels in my cabinet, I want them to be there. If I’m cooking, I want to know that everything I need is on hand and prevent going to the store for emergency items. I don’t but a lot of stuff. I tend to make everything at home so my shopping list is a lot of flour, chicken broth, chicken, olive oil, eggs, vegetables etc. And because I’m buying things like that, I have to go weekly to get fresh products.

Here is my process:
1. Set a shopping budget and make a list of whats needed. If you can plan your menu for the week, even better. I have a note pad on my refrigerator, If I’m running low on something, I just jot it down. On Sunday, I grab the list and decided how much I have to spend that week.

ShoppingList

2. I go to a few of my favorite websites and see what sales are going on in the grocery store, CVS, and Rite Aid for that week. A really great website is www.thegrocerygame.com. This is a paid site but its very minimal. It actually will match the sales going on in stores with coupons in that Sunday’s circular or coupons that are available on line. So in essence you can get items for almost 75% off a lot of times more.

3. Clip any necessary coupons from the Sunday paper inserts and check out the circulars for the stores you shop at, they may be running some really great deals!

4. I print online coupons from www.couponmom.com. Even if I don’t need them then, I may need one in the future.

*Side Note: Get a coupon organizer! They are important … this is mine:

CouponOrganizer

5. I have already signed up for the email blasts for products I regularly use. For example, I belong to the King Arthur Flour email blast. (As previously stated the amount of flour I go through is crazy! And all kinds of flour, all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat blah blah blah) Receiving these emails, I get special coupons and offers on a pretty steady basis. As the emails come in, I put them all in one folder in my email account, then on Sunday’s I go through it to see if there is anything I need.

6. I take my list and right down an asterisk next to anything I have a coupon for. Also as I’m going through my list, I’m checking to see if I have coupons from previous weeks for the items I need. Here’s where I get a little crazy, I try to put the list in order by Store and by Aisle. It just makes life easier.

The only thing left to do is head to the grocery store armed with coupons, list, money, calculator and a pen. As I purchase things, I cross them off put the amount in the calculator then there are never any surprises at the register! I love my grocery store and of course Reading Terminal Market. I try to make friends with the people that work there so when I have stupid questions they are more inclined to help 🙂 Like the fishmonger at SuperFresh … he seems to always laugh at me when I’m in the store because I’m there forever dancing around to the elevator music being piped through the speakers. None the less, he always says hello and helps when I need to locate something.

Be sure you have signed up for the any shopper club cards. I can’t tell you how much money this saves and if you don’t have your card, they will except the phone number registered to the account.

If you shop at CVS pay attention to Extra Care Bucks, they are essentially cash the next time you go to CVS. In each CVS there is also a magic coupon machine. You scan your Extra Card card and it will print out coupons for you. Each quarter CVS also gives you back 2% of your total purchased amount as their Extra Care Rewards.
Hello? Every dollar counts!

A Couple Tips:
– Find out if your store doubles coupons and if so which days
– If items are marked 10 for X amount of dollars – you don’t have to buy 10 – you can buy just 1!
– If the store deal is a certain amount off when you purchase two … and you have a coupon for that item … you can use two coupons because you are purchasing two of that item.
example: Buy two Crest Toothpastes and save $1.00 (regular price $2.00)
You have a coupon for $.50 cents off (grab two of those coupons)
Toothpaste is $2.00 x 2 = $4.00
Save $1.00 from the store = $3.00
2 coupons each at $.50 cents off = $2.00
Double coupon day = total cost is now $1.00 for two tubes of tooth paste
That’s a $3.00 savings and your getting each item for $.50 – Thats a great deal so buy alot and stock up!

So is all this a little insane?

Absolutely not! Saving money will never be a crazy idea. As with everything it requires a little bit of work. The reward is very sweet though! Getting all the stuff you need/want and then having extra money left over.

What’s better than that?

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