Friday, September 23, 2011

October Challenge

I've decided that my life isn't busy/hectic/challenging enough and am going to start a 30-day challenge in October. No, it's not a weight-loss challenge (not like I couldn't use a little of that), but a financial challenge.

My goal is to cut our weekly grocery/household expense by 20-30%. On average we spend $200 every week on groceries, cleaning supplies, formula, and other baby and household items. This seems a bit high for three people, but we have been eating mostly organic for the past year and Whole Foods is a delicious but pricey place to shop.

So here's how I'm going to tackle this feat:

  • Coupons: I am already a coupon user (not extreme couponing because that's a waste of products just to get for free), but a coupon user for items that I would already buy. In order to be a little smarter with coupons, I will try to match coupons that I print/cut with sale prices. I will also try to go to stores that double coupons to save a little extra. The thing about coupons is that manufacturer's try to get you to buy their products just because you have a coupon and then you end up spending more. So, it's key to only use coupons on products that you were going to buy anyway. 
  • Menu Planning: I have already begun to do this about a month ago. It wasn't an effort to save money, but to save me from going crazy trying to scramble up something for dinner. Now I just write down our week's meal plans on a dry-erase board on the fridge and all is good. To save money, I will plan out our menus and combine that effort with the couponing. 
  • Weekly Ads: I refuse to go to 8 different stores just to grab items that are on sale. It's not worth my time, and that is more valuable to me than saving $5. I do usually go to two stores to shop every week - Whole Foods for the majority of the food we eat, and Target for all of our home items. I am open to exploring other stores who have quality items that are on sale, so I will pick the grocery and home stores every week based on the  number of items (which I would buy anyway) that are on sale.
  • Pantry/Freezer stocking: When there is a great sale on an item that is freezer- or pantry-friendly I will stock up on a few of them. Examples - tomato sauces, soups, chicken, etc. We have cut down on the amount of processed foods we eat, so this will most likely be a frozen-item thing, but I think it could save a lot of money. The problem that I face sometimes is I forget what items are actually in the freezer or pantry and I buy double or never use them. I am going to create a list of the items in the freezer and keep track of what is current/needs to be used. 
  • Frequency of shopping trips: I am guilty of going to the store to pick up eggs or milk and coming home with $30 of random items that I really didn't need. My goal is to go shopping once a week and making my items last the entire week. Again, this is going to take better planning on my part, but I think it will save some money in the long run. 

So there you have it - my challenge for October. If all goes well and I hit my minimum we will save $160 over the 4 weeks in October. If I really push it we could save $240 or so. Average of $200 per month = $2400 per year we could save. Enough to buy us plane tickets to Hawaii next year. Are you reading this husband???

Any other advice smart-shopping friends? Do you have any tricks you use to save some cash?

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