Flipping Q-Tips! Or Why is Non-Food 1/3 of My Grocery Budget? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-25-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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Leta, I love that you're finding deals and ways to whittle down the items you buy. It is very inspiring.

I also want to echo that if you want/need this stuff, then you can't spend zero. You have to spend something, and it's OKAY to spend something if it's the lowest price you can get under the circumstances and you're not willing to live without the item. Those are choices. You could choose to live completely without - but you don't want to, and most of us don't, and that is perfectly valid. Feel good about your choices! You are provisioning for your family's needs, and doing it conscientiously and frugally. That is admirable. Give yourself a pat on the back and just keep doing the best possible job you can do within your values and priorities.

(I think I am pretty super-frugal but I love me my Q-tips, too....)

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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Old 08-25-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by annekevdbroek View Post
Basically, what you do is keep your Sunday newspaper coupons. Don't throw them out each week - hold them until they expire. (You can clip and organize them, or just keep them in a stack or whatever, it doesn't matter.) Each week when the Walgreen's sales flyer comes out go through it and look for the really great deals for that week or month. They have a monthly booklet in the store too that has extra Walgreen's coupons. Then, what you want to do is combine the sales from the weekly flyer with the Walgreen's monthly coupons and the manufacter's Sunday coupons to get items as cheaply as possible. The key is that you have to hold onto your Sunday coupons and to watch teh sales each week and then buy the things only at their cheapest, rather than when you need them. Some items may only go on sale a few times per year (e.g. candy before Halloween, for instance).

Usually there are also some items at Walgreens that are free after rebates. If you use a coupon to buy those things, then you are in effect getting paid to take them. So, you pay $8 for something, use a $2 coupon, and then get a $8 rebate, as an example.
Thanks!

Hmmm.... we don't get the Sunday paper (or any paper). Also, we're too far away from the Walgreens to receive their flyer in the mail. I can look that up online, though, right? When do the monthly coupons become available in the store?

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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Old 08-25-2009, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by annekevdbroek View Post
Basically, what you do is keep your Sunday newspaper coupons. Don't throw them out each week - hold them until they expire. (You can clip and organize them, or just keep them in a stack or whatever, it doesn't matter.) Each week when the Walgreen's sales flyer comes out go through it and look for the really great deals for that week or month. They have a monthly booklet in the store too that has extra Walgreen's coupons. Then, what you want to do is combine the sales from the weekly flyer with the Walgreen's monthly coupons and the manufacter's Sunday coupons to get items as cheaply as possible. The key is that you have to hold onto your Sunday coupons and to watch teh sales each week and then buy the things only at their cheapest, rather than when you need them. Some items may only go on sale a few times per year (e.g. candy before Halloween, for instance).

Usually there are also some items at Walgreens that are free after rebates. If you use a coupon to buy those things, then you are in effect getting paid to take them. So, you pay $8 for something, use a $2 coupon, and then get a $8 rebate, as an example.
Thank you so much for breaking this down. It makes a lot more sense to me now: manufacturer's coupon + store coupon + sale + possible rebate. I got it.

I'm going to give this a whirl. I have a very short list of stuff that I'd be looking for- toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, as well as possibly razor blades and toilet paper, if it is free or darn near. So it shouldn't take me too much time, as I won't need to inspect every coupon, just those six things.

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Leta View Post
Thank you so much for breaking this down. It makes a lot more sense to me now: manufacturer's coupon + store coupon + sale + possible rebate. I got it.

I'm going to give this a whirl. I have a very short list of stuff that I'd be looking for- toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, as well as possibly razor blades and toilet paper, if it is free or darn near. So it shouldn't take me too much time, as I won't need to inspect every coupon, just those six things.
Walgreens is also a good source of back to school loss leaders like pens, paper, tape, pencils, craft supplies, etc.
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, amyamanda. My values and priorities. This is another phrase I need to hang onto.

I guess I can give the shampoo example. We spend more on shampoo than any other personal care item. We use Alpenglow liquid, Chagrin Valley bars, as well as pine tar soap and baking soda on occaision. Altogether, on hair washing alone, we probably spend $80- $100 per year. But because we are buying non-detergent shampoo, I don't have to buy conditioner- my homemade stuff works fine, even on my mid-back length hair. I don't have to buy separate baby wash for my kids. DH doesn't need shaving cream, because he uses the scraps from shampoo bars in his shaving mug. None of use any hair product whatsoever, except for a little aloe on humid days. Our scalps feel good and are super clean, no dry scalp or dandruff. And all of us have nice, pretty hair. (Honestly, since switching to the non-detergent shampoo regimin, my hair looks great about 80% of the time, with no styling other than a hairbrush. No more weird, greasy scalp or split ends!)

So while I am primarily making this choice for reasons of personal and environmental health, I feel like it's an economically defensible one, when you tot up all the stuff I no longer need/want to buy- conditioner(s), styling product(s), babywash, shaving cream, dandruff shampoo- that stuff would probably come close to costing $80 a year.

I guess what I'm trying to do is find my happy shampoo medium for everything I buy- stuff that I feel good about buying, for our health as well of that of the environment, on top of being assured that it is the cheapest I can go without giving up quality that I feel is important.

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Old 08-25-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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You can watch http://iheartwags.com/ to see what is coming up. They match up the weekly ads and coupons, and do it a week or two in advance so you know what is coming up. If you just pull the coupon inserts from the paper and put them in a file with the date on top, you don't even need to clip them. They'll list which week's ads to find which coupon when the sales come up. They also link to printable coupons. It makes it really easy and takes next to no time - just look at what's coming up and decide if it's worth stocking up at that time!

Last week I got toothpaste and floss and made money on them. This week I got a blood glucose meter, which DH needed, and Tylenol allergy, and I made $12 on them.

I'm with you on the Chagrin Valley soaps and shampoos. They're pricy but so nice, and worth the splurge since you could easily spend well over $80 on the other products you're able to skip.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted two S/O threads in MHM about health savings accounts and cat litter, and some other research I've done has led me to redoing my list.

DH emailed HR about setting up an HSA. DH's employer gives a you a debit card and do it via pretax payroll deduction. Since our new little guy arrived in June, DH adjusted his withholding. Now, since we are going to be putting about $40/paycheck into the HSA, DH's net pay will be just about the same as it was before DS arrived (he hasn't gotten a paycheck from a post DS pay period yet), which is nice, because we won't really notice the HSA deduction- we'll just have a magical medicine debit card.

Anyway, here's my new list. I'm going to need to spend about $250 over the next few months- but that's okay, because we aren't out of any of this stuff at the moment, to buy several of the items that have moved from "grocery rotation" into "bulk purchasing". Online and bulk purchases of NFC goods should continue to cost me right around that annually. So roughly $21 a month, which is fine.

By switching to bulk purchasing for some stuff, replacing other stuff with a durable equivalent (ie, cheesecloth replaced by floursack towels), and eliminating other stuff (Goodbye, clay litter! Replaced with the wood pellets that we also burn for heat.), I should be able to shave down the NFC goods on the grocery shopping rotation to about $60/mo, including pet supplies. All of the stuff that's still on the grocery shopping rotation is either stuff that I know I cannot find any cheaper (ie, Equate brand Q Tips) or stuff that I don't want to buy in bulk because I don't want us to use any more of it- like the paper napkins that I buy 3-4x/yr for cleaning cast iron/blue steel pans and cat puke.

So I'm happy.

I feel more organized now, like I've made progress. At least I have a plan, compared to before when I budgeted $350/mo (and spent every nickel) on the somewhat nebulous "grocery" catagory, even though 1/3 of that was stuff we could never eat.

Now, looking at about $200 for food and $60 for other stuff during the big once a month shop is a lot better feeling.

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Old 08-26-2009, 04:18 AM
 
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Wow! What an inspiration!

Happy wife to DH superhero.gifand mama to DS signcirc1.gif11/05 and DD energy.gif8/07.
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Old 08-27-2009, 02:14 AM
 
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:: I just sat for 2 hours reading this thread start to finish, and made a list of things that I want to start changing about what we consume and the ways that I shop. Very inspirational - thank you so much for documenting your quest!

Me (27) and : DH (29), DD 12/08, DS 9/10, and #3 due 04/13!! Knitting, gardening/preserving, sewing, doulaing, loving God & others. Dreaming of my future farm...
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Old 08-27-2009, 02:25 AM
 
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http://www.hotcouponworld.com/index.php

Even if you don't get any or many coupons in your Sunday paper, many companies have printable coupons online, plus you can often print out online store coupons, PLUS some grocery stores accept competitors coupons and places like KMart (and others) hold double-coupon weeks. There are blogs that detail what the best deals are every week and what to watch out for, as well as giving links to where to find them. I'm sure you can find everything out at hotcouponworld.

For those with CVS around them, here are a couple of good info blogs:

http://neverpayretailagain.blogspot....and-start.html

http://www.loveshopsave.com/2009/08/cvs-ing-101.html

Other interesting sites:

http://www.fiddledeedeemom.com/

http://www.thecouponclippers.com/

http://www.retailmenot.com/
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Old 08-27-2009, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought this would be a good place to plug a good item. Since reviewing my lists as part of this process, I've realized that I couldn't have done it without my master grocery list software. (For me, it also functions as a price book.) It's a *free* download- Shopping List by Home Plan Software.

I first downloaded it about three years ago. It is a little time consuming, at first, to program, but it's been sooo worth doing. Whenever we needed anything else (that is, not already programmed in), I'd just add a new item- so even though I had a VERY long master list, it basically detailed everything we bought in a brick and mortar retail store over the past 3ish years. Pretty cool. It gave me a very good idea of what I buy. (If it just had a tracking mechanism to record how often I buy item X it would be perfect.)

The other thing that I've determined is that, on the new, revamped list, there are 44 NFC items that we purchase on the grocery circuit- and all but 5 of them we purchase at Wal Mart. So the new budget is this: on our once-a-month WM trip, we can spend $50 on NFC items, including pet supplies. And that's it.

(There are two exceptions: once a year, we buy the stuff to do oil changes on our cars [8 oil filters, Lucas Oil Ttmt, and an enormous box of 10W30] and, also about once a year, I'll buy the supplies I need to make 12 months worth of laundry detergent. The oil change stuff will be around $100, and the laundry stuff around $35, and we will spend this on top of our $50.)

That will leave us ~$15 a month to buy NFC goods at stores other than WM, which is more than enough. Since I have moved roughly half of our previous NFC WalMart list onto the new HSA category, this is really doable. (Thank you so much to the pp who suggested the HSA idea. So much of our non food list was HSA eligible, so it really helps us out.)

If I find myself regularly spending more than $50 a month on those 39 non-food items at WalMart, it's time to reevaluate and look into bulk purchasing options for that stuff.

Part of the glory of bulk buying, for me, anyway, is that, outside poking through thrift/antique/junk stores (and a few websites), I don't really like to shop. So I'd rather order a decade's worth of whatever online, and store it in my basement than I would have to track it down 6-12 times a year in a giant big box, while sifting through tens of thousands of other items that I have no desire to buy. The overall goal is to save money, but the added bonus of being able to get in and out of WalMart in about 40 minutes (and only once a month!) is a really good one, especially since I hate that store. (And yes, I know WM is evil. If I had any other reasonable shopping options, I'd go for them, believe me.)

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