August 3, 2010

End of the Month Report--July

Wow!  It has been a while since I’ve written one of these updates, and I hope to be back on track now.  Readers have told me that these posts have been helpful to them in the past, and I hope you find it to be helpful as well.

Normally we budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).  I decided to increase our budget to $450 this summer because my father was living with us while doing some home renovations and because we put up a lot of food in the summer months bought at farmers markets and pick-your-own farms.

In July we spent exactly  $450.

With that money we bought $811.20 worth of items.  If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of only 44.43%.  Considering that over $100 of that was solely local produce, meat and milk bought without coupons or other discounts, I’m ok with that percentage.

What did we buy with that money?

Free items—  tomato, whole wheat hot dog buns, jar lids, Tide, batteries, more free batteries, 5 jars of Honest teas, Boulder Canyon chips, 5 Philadelphia cream cheeses, Bounty paper towels, Libby’s canned corn, soda fountain ice cream toppers (I finally found these at the Clinton Hwy Kroger in Knoxville!)

What did we stock up on? In previous updates I’ve given more detail, but I find that a bit tedious. Below is a highlight of the main foods that we purchased this month. 

  • We caught the 20% off sale at Big Lots and stocked up on organic cereals and granola.
  • The Mega Events at Kroger allowed us to fill the freezer with very inexpensive pizzas and Green Giant frozen veggies; the refrigerator with Kraft natural cheese and Philly cream cheese, and the pantry/dry storage with Boulder Canyon chips, lunchmeat, and soaps.
  • At Target I bought the type of dog food we use at a great discount and with a rain check and coupons I scored 4 boxes of Glucerna cereals and 3 boxes of bars for pocket change.
  • Home canning supplies that were purchased included many boxes of Sure-gel, 20 (yes you read that correctly) pounds of sugar, vinegar, and jar lids.  Local produce purchased, namely green beans, peaches, blackberries, and cucumbers, were preserved.

So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping? 

  • I found that Dollar General is the cheapest place to buy pimentos ($1 for a jar that would have cost twice as much at Kroger).
  • Do what you can, when you can.  I only went to Walgreens once this month, and my husband went another time to pick up Children’s Motrin for our daughter.  I didn’t work the drugstore deals nearly as much as I could have, and I didn’t have a single trip that was a moneymaker for us over the course of the month.  We also didn’t have as many freebies this month.  Many of the times that I would go to pick up something at Kroger or Target they would be sold out.  Sometimes I would go to the trouble to get a rain check, and at other times it wasn’t as worth the effort for me.  Sometimes I need to take a break from hard core couponing so that I can focus on other things.  I find that whenever I do, I reenter the drugstore game and coupon world with renewed energy and enthusiasm.  I suspect that in the next few months I’ll bring home more freebies, cheapies, and moneymakers to add to our stockpile.
  • Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face  This is a tip that I included in April’s budget recap when I decided to up the budget to $450.  For our family, it is easier to lower our budget during other months than to keep it low during the growing season.  Eventually, we hope to be more self sufficient in growing our own foods.  Our blueberry bushes will get bigger.  Our plum trees will produce more. We’ll add more garden beds.   I learn something new each year from the garden that helps me to expand in future years.  Until that time, I suspect that we’ll increase our food budget in the summers and lower them back down in the off season. 

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