Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tutorial Tuesday

Money Saving Tips& Meal Planning: 

My husband and I have been blessed with the opportunity to go through Financial Peace University at our church.  I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic the program has been for us financially and in our marriage.  We were pretty skeptical starting out as we had already read Dave's book Total Money Makeover, and it hadn't really been inspiring or informative enough for us to change our habits and have the knowledge of how to do so.(I personally am not a huge fan of Dave Ramsey as a person, but he has come up with a pretty genius/common sense way of leading others to a debt free life.)
Taking the class has been wonderful for both of us.  We are held accountable by a group of people that we have really enjoyed getting to know, and it has become a fun break for us as our church offers dinner and child care during the class.  We are on week 7 of FPU and finding that our habits have been positively changing, including our budgeting skills and money saving skills.  

By next month, we will have paid off 10% of our debtMy heart jumps with joy when I say that.  We have given ourselves healthy limits, big goals and dreams, and a bright future for our children by going through this program. 

So, for my T.T., today we are going to talk about saving money...

Tutorial Tuesday: Money Saving Tips 

As you all know, I am already a meal planning, coupon clipping and budget friendly lady. I love the challenge of being told, "You only have $70 cash to spend on food this week." I gladly accept that challenge knowing that I will have the food that I need to make healthy and delicious meals (Yes, breakfast, lunch AND dinner with snacks between!) for my family of 4. And let me tell you, there is something about coming home with my groceries and telling my husband, "$68.72.  Under budget!"
Want to know how I do it?  

I have written a few posts 
about money saving, meal planning and budgeting.  Things have changed a little as I have been challenging myself a bit more by adding on Saturday and Sunday to my meal planning, and taking only cash along with to the grocery store.  (Dave Ramsey's tip, when you've run out of cash, you're done.)  

This is how I plan my weekly 
meals step by step:
* This might feel like way too much preparation for you.  This is just how I do it.  You can take it or leave it, or add your own things, take away others.  I have just been asked how my family eats so well on such a tight budget.  This is it.

 *I shop at Aldi and Target, and live in MN.  First I go to Aldi without kids while hubs is home, then on Monday the kids and I head to Target for the things we couldn't find at Aldi.  We save around $25-35 when shopping at Aldi.  
*I plan my meals on Sunday after church.  This way I can look at the new coupons at Target.com, the Target ad, the Aldi ad, and the Sunday local paper coupons.  I plan my meals according to sales and coupons. 
* I keep a post it list going on my fridge of things that we need, or things that my family wants.  (i.e.- my 3 year old is suddenly obsessed with bagels and cream cheese.)  This will help you to remember those thing when you are writing your list.

*Find a notebook that also has an envelope or folder in it.  You could also attach a regular envelope to your notebook by gluing it.  This way your coupons will be close to your list, but organized so that they will not fall all over the place in the middle of shopping.  


1. Clip coupons and check out ads.  I sometimes clip both the coupons and parts of the ad pages so that I can organize what I need with physical pieces of paper.  (I've also found that sometimes Target has a deal in their ad, but marked differently in the store.  It really helps if you have the ad there with you to correct the price to get the deal that you want.  

2. Write out ideas of meals that I could make using the sale/coupon items as well as the items you still have stocked in your pantry/freezer/fridge.  For instance, we have left over chicken from a dinner party that my best friend and I threw.  Also, this week half and half is on sale, and I had a coupon for Pillsbury pie crusts and a green giant canned vegetable.  Voila: chicken pot pie. 

3. TYPE (you can move things around easily) a list of groceries that you need, and a separate list of things that you and your family want. 

4. After finishing your separate lists, add up what you think the prices of your NEED items are on your typed list. (I am a very, very devoted Target shopper and know almost all of the prices of the items that we buy regularly almost to the penny.)  Add up your items and type your total.  How close is it to your budget?  When I did this, I was about $12 under. Go back and make sure that you took off your coupon discounts. 

5. Pull up your family's WANT list and decide which items you would like to add to your final grocery list. Guess the general prices of those items and add to your total. If your unsure of a price, guess high. Make sure you are under your budgeted allowance.

6Write your final grocery list out on a piece of paper with a pencil.  Include your other categories of items needed on the other side of your grocery list.  (i.e.- household, personal care, baby, etc.)  This way you will be able to tally up your food items since they are one category of your budget.  

7.  Go through your list and highlight all of the items that you have coupons for, as well as the items that should be on sale. (I even go as far as highlighting the two in separate colors.  Trust me, with a 1 year old and 3 year old, I do anything to get us in and out of the store as fast as I can with the least amount of tantrums as possible.) I usually write the brand name of the coupon next to the item so that I don't absolutely have to pull out of stack of coupons.  

8. You are prepared. Head to the grocery store and get those items that you need.  This is the most important step in budgeting.... keep your eyes on your list and cart.  DO NOT buy extra items.  Target is famous for their tactics in getting you to purchase extra items.  (No seriously, they do studies that track how customers like you and I travel around their stores; what items they see most often, what items they purchase most often, how they travel through the isles.  Seriously...)  I have even taught my 3 year old that we don't shop without a list, and we don't buy anything that isnt' on the list.  We successfully walked past the toy isle without a tantrum last week while she said, "Oh yeah, we don't have a toy on the list."  Proud mom, right here. 

9. Check out with your cart full of list items. If you can, put your "want" items at the back of the line in case you go over your budget limit.  This way you know all of your "need" items are already bagged. Tell your cashier (politely!!) that you are on a tight budget and are watching the total.  Let them know that you might have to stop at a certain point.  A few of my favorite cashiers at my Target like to play it like a game and cheer me on. Remember, they are the ones who will help you.  Don't be rude to them, and don't be surprised if they are rude to you.  (yes, this is their job, but you are adding extra work to something they already do.  It's like your boss adding another pile of papers to fill out at work, or 5 more poopy diapers to change during the day.) 

10. If you go over your budget, politely ask them to quit scanning items, or if they are really nice, take items out of the bags you have already put in your cart.  This is where you will be happy that you put your "want" items in the back.  You won't have to ask the cashier to scan the bagged items again to void them.  They will be happy you prepared ahead.

11.  Pay.  When you have hit your budget (mine is $70) you are done.  No moreLike I said, it will take practice to get to this point- both physically and emotionally.  It was really hard to not let the 3 year old in me come out when I couldn't get what I wanted, and just had to buy the essentials the first few weeks.  After a while, I got really good at it and have been able to buy the coffee I want, or even those chocolates that were on sale. 

12.  Enjoy your abundance of great food, and feelings of accomplishment.  (And maybe even the high five you'll get when you arrive home on or under budget!) 

Good luck!!   

Please email me or comment with any questions!  I (obviously) am pretty passionate about meal planning and saving money, so I'd love to chat!




1 comment:

  1. Well done Abi! That is so cool that your so good with your budget