Making a list, checking it twice

When I posted about how much I hate cash I got a number of comments on twitter and facebook with the fact that Dave Ramsey says you spent 12% to 18% more when using plastic than when using cash. Here is how to get around that:

1. Have a very strict budget and update it throughout the month as you are spending. Pick a day each week to go online with your bank and figure out how much you spent in each category. I use QuickBooks for this, but there are a number of other programs out there that are less expensive. You can even use a spreadsheet if you want and download your bank activity into the spreadsheet, then add a column for category. Fill in categories and then sort by that column. See, free budgeting software right there on your computer! I update my budget before each shopping trip so I know exactly what I can spend.

2. Always have a list when you shop. Always. Even when going to the mall, I have a list of what I am looking to buy and my budget. That way, I know how much I can spend. The most important places to have a list are Wal-mart/Target and the warehouse club, if you belong to one. It’s so easy to pick up things you don’t need.

3. Limit the number of trips to the store. Every time you go to the store, you increase your chances of purchasing impulse items. Make a list during the week, making sure you watch for things that are running low before you actually run out of them. Running out of cat food will instantly send you to the store. Put it on your list before running out. I also find psychologically people feel better when they go to a store and come out with multiple items. I watch a lot of people. It’s very rare that people will walk out of Wal-mart or Target with one item. Therefore, add items to your list as you progress through the week and only go once.

4. Keep your list in a high traffic area. I use my fridge. I usually have two magnetic pads on my fridge, one for groceries and one for nongroceries. I do not purchase nongrocery items at the grocery store unless there is a MEGA SALE, which doesn’t happen very often. Nongrocery items are generally a lot more expensive at the grocery store. It’s better to buy them at Wal-Mart or Target. Sometimes pharmacies will also have MEGA SALES on these types of items. So stay on the look out.

5. Always keep your coupons with you. You never know when an item from your grocery list might show up on sale at Wal-Mart, Target or the pharmacy and they all except coupons.

If you can keep your eye on the prize (staying within budget), you can avoid spending that extra cash without having to pay with cash. That makes me happy. I still hate cash.

Are you a list shopper?

P.S. If you would like to friend me on facebook, please put klingtocash in the message box. I get a lot of friend requests and I want to make sure I don’t miss any of my readers.

Free Grocery Coupons

Alternative to the grocery game

A little while back, I did a review of  The Grocery Game. Well, I found another site that essentially gives you the same information but it’s free. Check out CouponMom. There is a coupon database, weekly sales with percentages and a bunch of other useful items. The site appears to have the same stores as The Grocery Game, meaning the site still doesn’t have the two stores I do most of my shopping at. Grrrr. There must be a database or something that those stores give or sell to these websites since they all seem to have the same stores listed. It’s frustrating.

If you’re looking to save the fees that The Grocery Game is charging, check out CouponMom.

Organizing coupons and sale shopping

Well, I finally went grocery shopping. One of my local stores was having a good sale this week so I was inspired to go. I got all my coupons cut out and put them into my coupon holder. I have a small plastic file with about 10 dividers. I like it because it fits into my purse so I always have it with me. It came with little stickers so I could make up the categories myself. Some couponers like to set up their file so it matches the isles of their grocery store, but since I shop at a few different stores, that doesn’t really work for me. My file is broken up into categories that make sense to me. Some of my categories include: Meat, deli and produce; snacks; dairy; frozen; health and beauty; cleaning and cats; paper, plastic and bread; Italian, Mexican, rice and potatoes.  The reason paper, plastic and bread are together in mine is because the bread always seems to be in the same area as the paper and plastic items. It just made sense to me. You have to come up with a system that works for you. It might take you a couple tries before you are happy with the setup of your file. It has to work for you or else you won’t use it. Make sure you get a  file you can carry with you everywhere, since you never know when you’ll see a great deal at Target or Wal-Mart and just happen to have a coupon to match.

On to grocery shopping. I didn’t have a list with me this week since I was stocking up. I was there for the deals and some produce. The store was having a buy 2, get 3 free (B2G3) sale. Here are some of the deals I got:

  • store brand butter B2G3. Full price 3.49 each (butter is expensive in New England), sale price $1.40. Savings $10.49 or 60%
  • Dannon yogurt 20 for $10. I also had a coupon for $1 off 10 so I only bought 10. This is where knowing your store policy is important. At this store, you don’t have to buy the full amount to get the discount. I purchased 10 containers for $4 after the coupon. Total savings: $4.50 or 53%
  • Sargento shredded cheese was B1G1 and I had a coupon so two 8oz packages of shredded cheese was $3. Regular price $8. Savings: 63%
  • Keebler fudge shop cookies were on sale B2G3. Saved 60%. Paid $1.60 per package.
  • Same deal with pasta. B2G3 saved 60%. Paid .68 per package
  • Bread was B1G1. My husband eats toast for breakfast each morning so two loaves will go fast in my house.
  • I bought myself a loaf of potato bread. It was on sale for $2.50 but there was a coupon on the package for another 55 cents off. Look for those coupons on the packaging. Especially if the item is on sale. I’m on Spring Break this week so I’ve been eating at home. Sandwiches for me!
  • My best deal with week was on egg noodles. My husband thought I was nuts as I was walking back to the cart with 6 bags of egg noodles. They were originally $2.19 per bag. This week they were B1G1m which is a great sale where I am. Normally the best deal on egg noodles is $1.49/bag. I also had 2 coupons for $1 off 3  bags. Final price per bag 91 cents. Savings of 65%.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken was B1G1. I like their chicken because it’s trimmed well. I know I can get chicken less expensively, but it was still a good deal at about $2 a pound.
  • The grocery store I used also had a coin program. You get  coins for shopping which give you discounts on things. We were hungry going into the store so we each got 2 pieces of pizza and two cokes. We used the coins to get 1 piece of pizza free and one discounted so lunch cost us $8. I also used coins when shopping to get a discount on pickles, and lettuce. When I bought the pizza, I got one coin back and when I was at check-out, I got another one. I also got a coupon for $5 off my purchase next week. We’ll see how the sale is.

I bought a lot of  stuff this week. My cart was full. Total before sales $158.61. Total after sales and coupons $88.74. Savings $69.87 or 44%. My savings would have been a little better had a shopped alone. I wanted ice cream and the sales weren’t that great. My husband wanted a few things that were not on sale, but he generally buys store brands so it’s not so bad. Plus, I have a blast shopping with him. It’s much better than shopping alone.

The key to saving is matching up the sales with your coupons. You can either do it before going to the store with the sales flyer or at the store as you see items you need on sale. Depending on how much time I have, I’ll do it either way. During tax season, when I don’t have a lot of time, I match up everything at the store. I have a very good memory so I have a pretty good idea if I have a coupon for something.

Did you get any great deals this week?