Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taking Stock; Couponing

Periodically I like to take stock of how things are going in my life and what I can do to make myself better. It's similar to when I worked full-time and we would have quarterly reviews. Am I on track to achieve the goals I set? What areas can I change? Where am I doing well?

There are many facets of my life, of course, which can easily be broken down into roles: Christian, wife, mother, teacher, home manager, daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, etc. If I think through each of those roles, I can identify places where I can improve myself.

One of the facets I am currently focusing on is my role as home manager. I know that kinda sounds silly, but as a stay-at-home mom it is my job to manage the home. That means I take care of the bills, the groceries, the meals, the house cleaning, the doctor visits, etc. (Of course, like any good manager, I do delegate tasks to my wonderful husband, who helps SO much! :) )

I am responsible for managing our finances, and this is the specific area I've been working on. In this economy, we have to be extra diligent about not spending more than we need to. You never know when life will throw you a curve ball (my brother, for example, just lost his job), and you need to be prepared. So I am looking through our expenses and seeing where we can trim.

I posted a few weeks ago about a terrific blog I found called Money Saving Mom. I have learned so much from there! She shows you how to make coupons really work for you. I don't think I ever even thought about combining store coupons with manufacturer coupons. But those two things plus a sale mean big, big savings!

I've been educating myself from her blog and others (like Life as Mom), and I was ready to take the next step. Last night after the kids went to bed, I worked on this:

This is my new coupon binder! It's kind of a first start and may morph into something better, but for now it seems to work. It's a floppy 1" binder (I repurposed one that Scott had used at kids' camp last year) with sports card pages in it to hold my coupons. Each sports card page has 9 little pockets, perfect for holding coupons so that you can see what you have! I took the idea from Laura Williams' blog. I just cut up index cards to make the tabs, and I have sections like baby, baking, bread, candy, canned, cereal, etc. In the front of my binder is a zipper pouch with a pen and sticky notes. I plan on putting a little calculator in there, too. (Right now I use the one on my phone, but it's a bit cumbersome.)

I used the binder yesterday at Kroger, and I must say it worked out quite well! Kroger had their Mega Deals going--if you buy 10 participating items, you get $5 off. So here's what I bought yesterday:

I spent $34.63. Here is what I got:
  • 2 Irish Spring 3-packs of soap FREE
  • 1 box of Fiber One bars $.99
  • 2 Buttoni whole wheat tortellinis $1.99 each
  • 7 Lean Cuisine meals $1.49 each
  • 1 Soft Soap hand soap $.19
  • 1 Soft Soap body wash $1.74
  • 3 Classico pasta sauces $1.79 each
  • 2 Colgate toothpastes $.24 each
  • 4 boxes Raisin Bran $1.95 each plus coupon back for $1.50 off next purchase
  • 1 box Nature Valley bars $1.99
  • 1 gallon skim milk $1.99
Not too shabby! I have a lot to learn, but it's a good start! (And hey, to those of you I know in real life, if you have coupons you don't want, send them my way!) :)


Anonymous said...

Great job!!! We shop mostly at Costco. We try to go every six weeks because we spend so much on a visit.


some chick said...

Hey Tiff,

I would love for you to go into a little more detail on how you do this - how did you get free soap and toothpaste for 24 cents???

I've never really couponed because they're usually for name-brand items that are more expensive then the store brand, even with the coupon, or they're for things I would never buy anyway, like the frozen meals you got.

I've read a couple of other bloggers who do this but they are always buying things I would never buy.

for those who coupon and stockpile, we just don't have that kind of space, either, here in SF.

I'd like to save more on our grocery bills, and Safeway is doing that $5 thing thins week, but I don't see much in the ads that I would buy anyway.

Any thoughts, especially since you're a newbie at this?