Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Learning to be thrifty

Three months ago, if someone had told me I was going to be doing the things I do, I probably would have laughed at them. The very idea of couponing seemed overwhelming. We were spending $600+ a month on groceries. I had hoped to be able to find a stat on how much the average American spends on groceries but in my searchings, I couldn't find a legitimate source. I could find answers that had no backing, but definitely nothing concrete. I'm sure it is somewhere around what we were spending or more though (anyone have some numbers here??). I took a good look at what we were spending on groceries and I knew we could do better. So I thought to myself, I wonder if I can cut that to $400. **gulp** VERY scary. I did it though. And then on day, after I had joined a fabulous website (I'm not affiliated with them, I just LOVE this site), I saw what some women were spending on the Thrifty Families forum and I thought, I could get that even LOWER. So I did. On month I told my husband, this month, we're going to spend $260 on groceries.

I didn't have a SINGLE problem. I actually ended up cutting it $20 a month to $240. Now you might be thinking, that family must eat CRAP foods. Nope, I make almost everything from scratch (except my bread, yogurt...stuff like that, but I AM working towards that!), I COUPON until the cows come home, I shop sales and I shop at Aldi. Prior to thinking about being thrift, I have to admit, I really did look down at Aldi. I thought, how can they keep all this stuff so cheap? It must be crappy quality and anyways, I make enough money to shop at the fancy grocery stores. I don't NEED to shop there. Yes, I am completely appalled at my snobbishness regarding food and groceries. I'm here to tell you that their food is NOT low quality. Yes, it's mostly off-brand but it's good quality food. They keep their overhead costs down by doing multiple different things such as making you put a quarter deposit to get the cart (which ensures that everyone puts their cart back thus making it so Aldi employees don't need to round up carts), charging for bags and having one, SOMETIMES two, extremely fast (and friendly I might add!!) cashiers. The food IS good and it's good quality. (I got on my soapbox about Aldi there :) We buy very little processed items--yes we buy cereal and poptarts and the occasional treat, but our meals consist of meats, whole grain pastas, veggies, fruits, low fat dairy products etc. We do not live on Mac and Cheese and Raman noodles (although, my husband DOES eat Raman as a treat...he's weird!), we also do not have any public assistance (which, by the way, I DO support, but we don't qualify/or need it). We eat made-from-scratch, healthy, fulfilling meals and we do it on $240 a month. It IS possible!

Can you tell I'm passionate about my grocery shopping!? :)

There are many other things we do that have saved money as well. We always use a coupon for gas, I am no longer brand specific on items I buy such as toothpaste, deodorant etc. I use coupons for health and beauty items as well, and I have just started what is know as the CVS Game. I'll blog more about that later. I actually got some super great deals at CVS two days ago but haven't had a chance to blog about them yet. 

We cloth diaper our daughter, and we will cloth diaper our next baby as well. I made all of our daughters baby food instead of buying it which saved us a TON of money! I do not use disposable feminine products either. It sounds super weird to many people, heck, when I first considered it I was APPALLED but it started for me out of necessity. I have an allergy to those items and had to look at an alternative. I found Mama Cloth which are washable sanitary napkins. I know, I know, it sounds weird but it's the best thing I've ever used. I HIGHLY recommend GEM Pads by Michelle if you are interested. She makes amazing products and is SUCH a sweet mama! I'll never buy from anyone else. We try to shut off lights and unplug items that suck up electricity, although this is something we're really working on because we tend to forget. In fact, as I speak, I have the closet light on as well as three unnecessary lights. (I'm going to shut them off RIGHT NOW...just shut them off:) OH! And one thing that I have found...foaming soap dispensers!! These are awesome! You mix in 1 part soap with 2 parts water into a special dispenser which turns it into foaming soap. You've seen the fancy foaming soap at Bath and Body Works I'm sure, all it is is less soap and more water. Do you feel gyped? Because I certainly did when I found out about this!!

There are a TON of products you can also make yourself which I'm looking into but for the mean time, I have a bunch of stuff I got for free or near free such as Laundry Detergent, toothpaste, deodorant etc so I haven't looked too much into it. I want to because I'm also trying to be greener!

Well, I think I've exhausted this topic for now. This is just a BRIEF (I know, it didn't seem brief, did it?) introduction to my new found thrifty ways. I'm still learning. I would have NEVER thought I would be this way. I wouldn't have even known how to be this way. It's a learning process but it's very easy to pick up. It can be so overwhelming but take it a step at a time, find a community that is supportive and find a few blogs **hint, hint** to help you on your way. It really is possible. :)

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