I have been looking for ways to decrease the amount of money that leaves my household. I decided it was time to review our bank statements to see what I could cut. I should not have been surprised to see that it was FOOD. The real culprit is eating out. I found that we ate out at least 3-4xs a week which is shameful so I needed a plan. Imagine the looks on my family's face when I announced that we would make every effort to eat all meals at home. I then took it a step further and exclaimed that I would budget $35 per person per week for meals. It came out of my mouth but I had no idea how to make it happen.
Lucky for me I had the opportunity to interview Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. Crystal created a wonderful plan to remain debt free while her husband was in law school. Her plan involved placing cash in an envelope and using on it for meals. Most times she had $35.00 for the entire week but sometimes it was less. She used creative ideas to stretch her money and they remained debt free.
The first step is to being successful is to decide that you can do this. Once you have made the decision you want to start organizing coupons. Do not try to become a stock piler overnight but as Crystal pointed out if you pay attention to the trends you will see that most items hit their rock bottom prices every 12 weeks. It is important to know the prices of staple items which will help you decide when it is a great time to buy and stock up. Crystal and I both use Amazon to buy several items. Amazon prime provides free 2-day shipping and if you use subscribe and save you get an extra discount.
Here are a few other tips that Crystal pain shared during our interview:
- Buy store brands when you can. Many items are regulated by the FDA no matter the brand. Baby formula is a great store brand save. There are also coupons at StoreBrandFormula.com
- Prepare your weekly meal plan based on what is for sale in the weekly circulars. I did this at Acme this week and saved a bundle.
- Cooking from scratch is cheaper than buying processed and it is healthier.
- Buy fruits and vegetables in bulk. Check local harvest for a list of farmers that will allow you to buy directly from them. Many will offer you a discount if you buy in bulk and/or request seconds.
- Play the drug store game. This is where you use the rebate programs at local drug stores to save money. If done properly you can get many of your items for free.
Do you have any money saving tips to share? How do you determine your family budget?