Monday, February 17, 2014

Finding Grocery Savings

This past Friday, I spent half the morning preparing my taxes for 2013.  I finished them on Saturday morning and e-filed them.  SUCCESS, I thought!  Then, it dawned on me that for 2014 to be a successful year for my family, I needed to work on a project from Dave Ramsey that I vowed I would do this year.  I wanted to see how much of our money was going to groceries, as well as dining out at restaurants and frequenting fast food drive-thru's.

budgeting, finance, home
Public Domain image courtesy of Junior Libby

For this project I took all of our bank statements from last year and would need to highlight each expenditure listed and categorize it so I could see where our money was/is going.  Because Dave Ramsey is a proponent of children being involved in budgetary issues, and because I could see this could easily take me several days if I did it myself, I gave each of my kids a different colored highlighter and a specific category.  I then handed them each half of the statements, and we all got to work.

I have to say that it was quite the eye-opening experience.  We had our successes, like cutting our "eating out" expenses in half, but we also discovered a money-gobbler:  grocery store expenses.  Over $13,000 worth of grocery store expenses.  And yes, we did do a little bit of clothing and Christmas shopping at Walmart and Target, but only to the tune of $138 for 2013 (yes, I keep every single receipt for a period of time).

I haven't figured out yet whether the huge increase in grocery expenses has been because of the increase in the price of groceries, or if I'm having to buy more food because my kids have gotten older and are starting to eat a lot more as they begin growth spurts.  One thing is for sure, it is time to try and cut that expense.  The only problem with this idea is that I'm already shopping at Walmart and Sam's Club, so I'm getting some pretty good prices and am out of ideas.

I need some fresh ideas on what you, or someone you know, does to save money.  I used to live debt-free before I got married and after 24+ years of marriage, I'm sick of owing people money.  Being in debt restricts my ability to do things for my family and for other people, and that drives me batty.  Not to mention the strangle-hold it feels like it places on me when my children want to participate in a sport or activity.

As a first step, we have decided to build our own vegetable garden this year in an effort to save money on the produce aisle.  We eat a lot of vegetables and my kids like to garden, so I'm hoping to make this a win-win proposition.  My debt snowball will hopefully get reduced while my children learn about growing their own food and being self-sufficient.

While this is a good start, we need to find additional ways to save money.  So, if you have a way you grocery shop which helps save your family money, even if it's just how you organize or meal plan, I'd be thrilled if you'd share your successes with me.  If you have a favorite grocery store that you've found has great prices, or if you have a great way to get grocery coupons or bargains, please share.  Thank you in advance to everyone who shares their advice, tips, bargain places, and any other information which will be of help!

Written by:  Christie Bielss

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