Tips by Heidi

Tips By Heidi

(Looks just like me, doesn’t it?!!)

Over the past four years, I have taught myself slowly how to make/manage a budget! Let’s be realistic: it’s not easy to feed/clothe/clean/etc a family of 4 in a really expensive city on limited to no income!

I had very little experience with a budget but a year after moving here we had “the budget talk” which went terribly amazingly well! I realized that 2-3 trips to the outrageously expensive store 2 min down the road to get “forgotten” items off my list wasn’t saving us money. I know, gasp!

I’d love to share a few tips with you even if you already figured most of this out on your own! And this comes from much trial and error, a lot of imperfection, talking to and learning from others, internet sources and I guess a good dose of common sense! (which I may or may not have needed….)

Tips:

1. Make lists, lists and more lists! I remember when I used to wing it and “pop” into a store (ahem, Target) with only a few things on my mind that I needed and walk out several bags heavier and a lot of money lighter! Never go into a store without a list and STICK TO IT! (easier said than done:)
2. Menu Plan! I sit down the night before or morning of a grocery trip and go through my cabinets and freezers to see what items I already have and may have forgotten about (hello, can of tomatoes,cream of chicken soup or dried beans!) that I can use. You can do what works for you but I menu plan for 2 full weeks of meals, which saves alot of money and time!
3. Coupons! This is a new one for me. I just found a great deal online to get the Sunday paper for 50 cents so now I can get coupons!! I also found a good website to print off coupons (free)www.couponmom.com and at this website she also can tell you about the paper’s coupons and coordinating sales at your local store.4. Here is a website my mom and several other family members are using: http://www.thegrocerygame.com/. It’s the same concept as the couponmom website but this lady does some serious work for you. Coordinates your coupons with store sales and store coupons. The main idea of this is to stockpile food so after a couple of months you shouldn’t have much on your “need” list. You get lots of food/household items for dirt cheap (we’re talking less than $1) or even free! I witnessed this first hand grocery shopping with my mom this summer. We went to two different stores and at the cash register my eyes about popped out of their sockets when she saved $70 at one store and $60 at the second. Seriously. I am trying the free 4 week trial this month!
5. And another recent change I have made is to do a cash budget. I just completed my 3rd month and am getting better at it each time! I actually look forward to the 1st of the month when I can get out my cash and divide it into the envelopes (I know, I’m a nerd!). I personally have 3 separate envelopes: a grocery/household envelope (food, household supplies, diapers, etc), a produce market envelope (I adore our produce market!) and a misc envelope (laundry money, vitamins and medicine, gifts, clothing, etc).

*Doing the cash budget has helped me SO much to know that once that budgeted money is gone…it’s gone! I am so much more careful now about what I am choosing to spend our money on and can even reward us with a special treat at the end of the month if there is a little extra like pizza! (going out to eat is a RARE treat!) Also, I am now going to reduce our grocery budget by $50 a month because I realized that I am spending so much less now with the menu planning and coupons
I am probably just blabbing things that you already know but I am excited about what we are doing! It just makes me feel good to know that we are being really careful and there are ways to save money. Now if only I could figure out how to make money….

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