January 30, 2011

Starting the year off right—Monthly Budget Review

I just looked at our monthly budget for groceries, and I’m pleased with the numbers thus far.  A big thank you to Walgreens and all the bloggers who post matchups for drugstores!

We budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).   In January we spent $336.90 With that money we bought $922.04 worth of items.  If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of 63.46%. 

What did we buy with that money?  In addition to basic staple items, we purchased the following:

Free items—4 Natrol Melatonin, 2 Blink eye drops, 2 Arnicare, 8 Sinex Dayquil/Niquil, 1 Electrosol, 8 hummus, 2 coffeemate creamer, crest, dawn detergent, chicken from Earth Fare, Swiss Miss cocoa, 1 Colgate toothpaste, 1 pack gum, kids vitamins, 4 Best Life margarine tubs, 3 Horizon single serve milks, 1 Luna Bar, 3 heat wraps, 3 Hunts tomatoes, 3 Honest Teas, 6 cans of mandarin oranges, 8 Butterfinger snackerz, cat treats

The free items only include those that I “bought” with coupons.  Free samples received via the mail are not noted here.  Many of the items mentioned above were donated to the church pantry or to someone else I knew who could use the items.

What did we stock up on? 

  • I made a trip to Sam’s with a sweet friend who let me tag along.  (Our family does not have a membership).  I stocked up on Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, CFL fan bulbs, and Clorox wipes (my guilty, non-eco friendly addiction).
  • I bought a half gallon of organic maple syrup online.  This should last us at least half of a year, if not longer.
  • I bought at case of organic tomatoes through Three Rivers Market and added a few more canned items to storage with the Kroger Mega Events.

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

  • If you don’t have a membership to Sam’s, ask if you can tag along with a friend.  The cost benefit analysis of the amount of membership vs the amount we would save per year shows us that for our family a membership doesn’t make sense.  About one time a year, though, it is nice to make a trip, compare prices, and stock up on a few staple items.  I brought cash, paid in a separate transaction, and tried to go at a time that was convenient for my friend.  I brought her a little treat from Bath & Body Works as a thank you for her letting me join her.
  • Coupons can help you.  We made money through a few transactions at Walgreens which helped to off-set the costs of stockpiling (trip to Sam’s, maple syrup purchase, etc).  Granted, couponing isn’t for everyone, but they sure help our family!  Plus, we are able to donate to the church extra products that we have.  The totals above are only for our family.  Keep in mind that I use coupons from the church to buy products at free or discounted prices for the food pantry, children’s program, and various outreach programs at Faith UMC.
  • Recognize the seasonality of deals.  In November and December, we saw sales and deals on baking products, turkeys, and hams.  January is a good time to find chili, snacks, and Super Bowl foods on sale.  February, you’ll find deals on chocolate.  By keeping an annual budget with some notes on what you buy and when, you’ll get a sense of when to watch for sales.  You’ll know when you can get those products for a discount and when to stock up.

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