Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guest Blogger - Ellen from Thrifty & Chic Mom

Thrifty and Chic Mom

Ellen from Thrifty & Chic Mom is a blogger who I have had the privilege of meeting through our new local bloggers group. This is who is teaching me the art of "couponing". I told her I did NOT want to use coupons...I really didn't. I thought that I bought mostly generic and I saved more already than using coupons to buy name brand items!! (For those of you who haven't read before I have been kicking and screaming as I learn this coupon method of saving money.) She told me, "Sandy, I never pay for toilet paper, I don't pay for toothbrushes, I never pay more than a dollar for a name brand box of cereal." I was like,"What?...Are you kidding? Please tell me no...I don't want to do this!!!" But I am trying it and its not bad. It just takes some time, but I think once I get it down it will really be worth it. I am learning...but it is slow. I am thrilled because Ellen is going to put on a class locally to help us "coupon dummies" get the technique down. She has been featured on the local news several times and has it down. Her blog is one you want to follow if you want to save money.

Hi my name is Ellen and you can find me at Thrifty & Chic Mom.
I am thrilled today to share with you my money saving philosophy as it applies to coupons and hope it encourages you to take the plunge and start couponing and saving your family money.

As I continue on my journey of saving money and stretching my dollars farther I have slowly reshaped the way I shop and view my money. This attitude is constantly evolving but I am going to attempt to explain my thoughts, philosophy and methods in order to help you enjoy the benefits of saving money as I have.

This mainly refers to shopping grocery and household items but can be applied in other areas as well.

I regularly shop each week at 2 grocery store and 2 drug stores. Yes I know that is a lot of time and travel. This is only worth it if you have the stores all within a short distance and the time to do it. If you spend too much gas driving around the savings are not worth it. I am lucky and have Kroger, Giant Eagle, CVS and Walgreens all very close. Meijer is a bit farther but the deals are worth it for me to drive to.

Each week I look at the deals at my grocery stores and decide where I am going to shop at based on the store with the greatest number of applicable deals. All week I keep a running grocery list on my fridge which I update as I run out of basics. Then based on the items I have on hand and the deals running that week I make a meal plan and add the missing ingredients to my list. Next I take this list and add to it based on the items that are Great deals, these items are not necessarily for the upcoming week but are such a great price that they are to be stockpiled for the future.

I buy constantly for the future. By that I mean that by stocking up on items when they are on sale I already have them on hand when I need them. You should almost always buy when:

* it is a great deal
* you will use it at some time, now or in the future
* it is either non-perishable or freezer friendly
* it will not put you over your budget ( unless you have money to wiggle with)

If these criteria are met, buy as much as you can without blowing your budget. By stockpiling in this manner you will build a great supply to pull from in the future. This way you can plan your meals based on what you have and what is on sale. Planning your meals and shopping this way can drastically reduce your monthly bills.

A word of caution, if you wouldn't buy it normally don't buy it just because it is cheap. A great deal can suck you in but it doesn't have to. For example I do not buy most snack foods. So even if cookies are very cheap I still do not buy them because it does not help me save money if I buy things I normally wouldn't. I make snacks at home instead because it is cheaper and healthier for my family. Try to stick to your normal shopping list by saving money on those items you would usually buy, that is the best way to reduce your cost.

I also shop at both CVS and Walgreens for my household items and some grocery items. If the item is FREE I always get it ( as long as we will use it or it is good for donating). If it is cheap I check my stockpile and assess whether it is worth purchasing based on my future needs. Once again buying for the future is the key and not for now. Now should be already covered from past last weeks of shopping.

Hopefully this helps explain the way I shop and can help you develop your own shopping strategy. For more couponing and money saving advice please stop by Thrifty & Chic Mom.


Sandra said...

I have been couponing over a year. I am still trying to get to the point where my grocery bill is slashed to the bare minimum. My problem is that there are no big name brand grocery stores in my area. I do greatly benefit from the CVS and Walgreens deals, though. It can become quite addicting. I occasionally have to take a coupon break and not stress that I am missing out on a great deal.

Condo Blues said...

Couponing doesn't really work for me. I don't buy a lot of prepared foods, my husband (our Cook) likes to cook from scratch. A lot of our ingredients, like produce, don't have coupons.