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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Chapter 6

Whew! It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged! Ick! The good news is that I was able to finish another book that I had been putting off, but that’s no excuse for this big time lapse! I did read almost 2 more chapters from The Money Saving Mom’s Budget book. There are so many tips and ideas! I will share some of them here, but again, it really is too detailed to share it all, so I will continue to recommend you read the actual book for more info. I’ve had to reset my goal of finishing this book by March 17 and my new goal is to finish it March 25.

Here’s chapter 6!

Chapter 6: Beyond the Basics: Advanced Couponing Techniques

~The key is to combine coupons with sales

~Shop at more than 1 store to keep your budget down

   -Scout nearby stores each week and pick the best deals (base grocery trip only to those stores)

~How to shop at more than 1 store without spending hours each week shopping

   1) Consider your options (not just grocery stores- Drugstores, dollar stores, etc.)

   2) Make a price book (track prices for regularly bought items)

   3) Find out local store’s coupon and mark-down policies

   4) Shop at different stores each week

~Play the drugstore game (many many details in the book on this one!)

~Implement the “Buy-Ahead” Principle

   -Aim to never pay full price for anything other than dairy and produce

   -How to implement:

      -Set aside a small portion of your grocery budget (5-10%)

      -Designate a small area of your home for storing extra groceries

      -Determine when enough is enough

      -Don’t buy 35 bottles of something you’ve never tried the brand before

~”Stack” manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons

~How to use great deals to feed your family

   -You need a plan

      -It’s a waste of time and effort if you get 25 free cans of tomato sauce if you never do anything with it.

      -It is vitally important to learn how to plan a meal based on what’s on sale and what you already have on hand.

      -Menu-planning also saves time, effort and stress.

~Get the best bang for your buck

   -Plan a menu based on what’s on sale and what you have on hand.

     1) Shop your cupboards (use items you already have and then you only have to pick up a few items to make a complete meal).

     2) Consult the sales fliers (for deals on what you need or will use in the next few months).

     3) Survey your coupons (combine with sales for even greater deals).

     4) Make your final menu plan and grocery list (use a list of recipe ideas and sale items to create menu and list).

   * Ideas for meals – for inspiration when you are lacking it:

        -Create a list of 30 meals your family loves

        -Have a recipe folder to keep recipes from magazines, newspapers, food packages, etc.

        -Online sites (allrecipes.com, supercook.com, recipematcher.com. I must add my own fave: tasteofhome.com!!!)

~ Take it slow and pace yourself!

~ Focus on cutting your grocery bill bit by bit

~ Focus on how much you are SPENDING, not how much you are SAVING.

~ Don’t just be “spaving” (spending money to save money)

~ Stick to your grocery budget, even if it means passing up good deals.

~ It’s okay to take a break every now and then (shop Aldi!) so you don’t get coupon burnout!

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I’d love to hear your input on these coupon ideas and if you’ve had any great couponing success lately!!!! Please share in the comments!!!

 

 

 

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – “Coupons Are Not Just For Junk Food”

Rule #5 – “Use Coupons”

~There are coupons for organic and natural products (not just processed foods!)

~If you use coupons correctly, you’ll save at least $25-$50/hour

~There are lots of ways to get free coupons. Her website has lots of links as well as this really awesome tool to find specific coupons!

http://moneysavingmom.com/print-coupons/coupon-database

~Choose the best filing system for your coupons to use them effectively

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This chapter is chock full of the nuts and bolts of couponing and lots of tips, even for someone such as I who have been using coupons for as long as I can remember, thanks for my mom teaching me their value from a young age. 🙂 I won’t go into the nitty gritty, but basically please know that you can find lots of info in the book, as well as links to some great coupon websites as resources. She also goes into detail about a few filing systems to choose from for keeping your coupons organized. This is something I need to crack down on and be disciplined about keeping organized. I’ve gotten some good ideas I plan to implement.

Also, she mentions sending expired coupons to military to use. Does anyone do this? I’d like to send mine for someone to use.

I’d love to hear some stories about your couponing success or your plans to embark upon the couponing journey. 🙂

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – “Go Totally Plastic-Free – Temporarily”

So Crystal’s suggestion is to do this for 3 months. She’s talking no credit cards, no debit cards. No plastic at all.

Rule #4 – Take The Cash-Only Challenge

Yes, this may seem very drastic to some. To me, honestly, it would feel next to impossible. Or at least very difficult- even just thinking about it is sort of scary for me!! Maybe just the change it would involve is the cause of my trepidation. I would venture to say that many of us have taken advantage of the ease of using a credit or debit card, even if we pay the credit card in full when the bill comes due.

Sometimes I do like to do scary things. I know that usually in the end, the result will make the fear it caused well worth it. So, I will soon be taking the plunge on this one. <GULP> Planning to begin in April and taking the month of March to prepare.

Our Money Saving Mom says one of the main reasons to give up the plastic is that plastic gives you something to fall back on. “Just this one time.” or “Just until payday.” It gives a false sense of security and the opportunity to cheat on your budget when temptation arises.

Commit to buy only what you can AFFORD. If you don’t already have the money set aside for it, you can’t afford it.  (This is an eye opener!!!! So true!!!!)

Here are her steps toward taking the “Cash-Only Challenge”:

1) Cut up, freeze or otherwise completely remove the ability to use all credit or debit cards for the next 3 months.

2) Make sure you have created the Full-Fledged Budget. This must be done first.

3) Determine which categories from Full-Fledged Budget will be paid from cash envelopes and which will be paid by direct withdrawal or check. Use cash for as many as possible.

4) Divide up paycheck immediately. Deposit enough money in checking account to cover all monthly payments paid by check or auto withdrawal. Withdrawal in cash the total amount needed for cash envelopes and divide accordingly.

5) Bring only the cash envelopes and calculator with you when you shop. Do a quick estimate on how much the items on your shopping list should cost. Bring this amount and a little extra (she recommends $5-$10 extra).

6) Calculate purchases as you add them to your cart. This motivates you to evaluate each item carefully, being aware of the cost, looking for the best deals, and prevents you from having to put items back at check-out.

7) For online purchases – use PayPal, prepaid cards or giftcards. Take cash from cash envelope and deposit into bank account ASAP.

8) Any extra budgeted money in category or cash envelope should be saved and rolled into next month. This gives some wiggle room.

She addresses a FAQ:

~ Q: What if I find a good deal but I don’t have the cash on hand?

A: Use “extra” cash or skip another item in order to buy it. Otherwise, do not buy it.

She also gives several reasons why credit cards can be our worst enemy

– spending money we don’t have

– buying things we don’t need

– encouraging you to bank on the future (planning to pay it off and what if something happens that you can’t?)

– discouraging self-discipline and stealing the fulfillment of working hard and saving to pay cash for purchases

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She is not “anti-credit card,” although she has never had one. She does, however, warn of the dangers and feels strongly that credit cards can only be appropriately used by someone with extreme self-discipline and a strict budget already in place.

There are several other credit-related issues addressed in the book, but I’d rather not go into too much detail here. I’m trying to just give an overview and bring you along on my journey. I’ve been hard at work re-vamping and adjusting our budget. I think I’ve actually been able to simplify the Excel spreadsheet that I have been currently using, thanks to some of the information and tips I read in the book. I’m really excited to get our budget a little more “full-fledged” and functional. This will be a work-in-progress, since budgets can vary from month to month and normal tweaking typically needs to be done.

I have to say that this chapter has been the hardest for me to swallow so far. It’s caused me to be convicted to make an uncomfortable, but necessary change. I know it will be worth it, but it will not be easy! I’m excited to see where this journey takes my family!!!

Baby steps and bite-sized pieces! 🙂

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