March 4, 2012


Well, February has come and gone which means it's time to reflect on my first month of couponing and sticking to a budget. I'll just throw it out there: epic failure. I've read about families of eight living on $300 a month in groceries. Obviously seven of them are starving.

Things that worked: 
  • A couple very successful couponing trips. (I'm getting the hang of it!)
  • Going to multiple stores. Target is my new favorite.
  • Switching to the envelope system. Using cash worked really well... until it was all gone... and I still had 21 days left in the month.

Things that didn't work:
  • Giving Scott my debit card. a) I ended up just grabbing his to use when we ran out of cash, and b) I have the whole card memorized anyway. (Is that weird?)
  • Sticking to a budget. Obviously. 

So, here's where I need some help from my readers. And I know you're out there because I've seen the Google Analytics. On average, we spend about $600 in groceries, $150 eating out each month. In February we spent $800 in groceries and $180 eating out. I know, for being the first month couponing/really budgeting, how did I go over so much?! Gluten-free. Dairy-free. (That being said, February was actually an improvement from January.) My goal? $400. (Ha!) Obviously I need a more realistic goal. Soooooo, kindly leave me a comment and let me know:

How much you spend each month in these areas? 
How do you stick to a budget?

In other news, Landon's bedroom that was bursting with toys, has finally gotten a facelift. For months, I thought the only solution was to get a bookshelf to hold everything. Well, after stalking KSL forever and never finding the perfect used bookcase I could fix up, I decided to rearrange his closet and room. I also gave the train table (good ol' cardboard box) a makeover with paint and fabric I had around the house, and now it looks much better, and finally has a place against the wall. At least I was thrifty in some way this month! :)

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Jamie Freeto said...

Hey Becca -- Budgeting is super hard and kudos for trying!! It took me a while to figure out what worked best for our family and I found that the best way for us to stick to a budget is to make a meal plan and only buy what we need to make those meals (plus any basics that just need to be kept in stock; snacks, milk, lunch stuff, etc). I make my plans for 2 weeks at a time to revolve around paydays. After I did that for a while, I compiled a list of the things we most often buy then went to different stores and found out prices so that once my meal plan is made, I can tally up which store to go to in order to save the most money and could get a rough estimate of how much the groceries were going to cost and adjust my meal plan accordingly. It's hard when you first start out, but it becomes second nature and it has not only allowed me to save money, but also to experiment with new recipes more often when we have some extra money in the grocery budget :-) Also, buying things we USE in bulk helps as well (I emphasize USE because sometimes - ok, lots of times - I go to Costco and see things that seem like a good deal but end up sitting around the house until they expire because it's not something we actually needed). My mother in law is gluten free too and it is super expensive, but she has started making meal plans to save money too and it has been working out pretty well for her. Good luck!!

stacy marie said...

Budgeting is definitely unfunzies.
Fer realz. But A for effort Becca!

Richard and I follow Dave Ramseys financial plan.
I don't know if you've heard of him/read his stuff etc.
But he has the envelope system, which we use...with a twist: I HATE the idea of having cash on hand because I spend it too fast. So what we do is we put all our receipts in the envelopes and have a card in the envelope to keep track of how much we have left.

So for groceries, our budget is $475 a month. And Seriously, it works like a charm every time to do it this way. We stay under budget, even without "cash" by just using our debit cards wisely because we know we still have to come home and face the envelope system.

Eating out we don't do much. We really try to save save save, so we allocate $25 a month for entertainment. Which seems like nothing, but it really forces us to choose wisely what we do with our time.

Anyways, with a baby, we have done this the last 9 months and have been able to save well and stay on plan nicely. Not perfectly, but still pretty good.

I'm not a coupon-er like you, so I don't have much there to offer, but one thing that Dave's plan has taught us is that sitting down at the beginning of each month and assigning EVERY dollar a name, and being in agreement with your spouse on it, is what will work the best. And it has for us tremendously well.

Anyhoots, this was waaay to freaking long, lol, but you are awesome and keep up the good work my friend! :)


Courtney said...

I was really looking forward to hearing how you did because I was hoping you had the best answer. I suck at budgeting. I have wellsfargo and they track and assign your spendings and I am always all over the place. Good luck! I need to figure it out too

Danielle said...

I love to read, learn and practice financial things as well as preparedness. You are doing great if you get started this early in your marriage.
My goal for our family of 6 (at home) is to stay between 400 and $500. It is a challenge. And I do go over sometimes. We don't eat out much which really helps and we have a large food storage built up which does cost to get and keep up. I like stocking up sales. When I do caselot sales, I don't count that as grocery budget. I keep a separate category for preparedness items and bulk. I also bottle, freeze and dry lots in the summer like you're doing.

I wish I were better at using coupons. I cut them often but am too busy to make it a priority to use. Still a goal. Have you watched youtube clips on couponing. I like to do that. Savy Shopper is helpful to see local sales and only buy the WOW ones.

I love Dave RAmsey's info. Even more helpful to me has been Mary Hunt's system and I did it with a notebook. You could check her out online.

You are off to a great start. Just keep trying and tweeking your plans and it will get better.

Rachel E. Bytheway said...

Becca. I am now fully blog-functional! Yes!

I know this is not the blog to be laughing at, but my dear, you totally make me laugh!

Seriously, I have your solution--you just need to spend more time around Brenden and me, and hopefully our frugality will rub off on you.

Seriously. I love learning how to live on a little. We can swap secrets--you teach me to craft and I'll show you how we budget. :)

JennyLeighP said...

SO i'm taking a finance class right now...and we have to read Automatic Millionaire. It's a really good book and it goes into extreme detail about saving/budgeting. I don't know if you are budgeting so you can put the extra money into savings or what not but one great idea the book had was to "pay yourself first." Set up an automatic payment that takes however much out of your paycheck and automatically puts it into savings without you even seeing it. Then you get to spend the rest of the money leftover on the paycheck with whatever you NEED:-) Easier said than done but it sounds like a good little trick! Oh and one thing that saved us money...i stopped making so many treats and new crazy recipes. Mostly because I want to lose the rest of my baby weight but that took a lot of the money out of my grocery bills; not buying sugar, flour, vanilla, etc. Also switching the kids' snacks to homemade things instead of packaged crackers/snacks. It's mostly healthier and I think it saves in the long run.

The Winns said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone!!! I really appreciate all the comments/advice/tips/etc... and now I have lots of ideas for really bringing down my grocery spending. Seriously needed that boost!!

Laura C. said...

Good for you Becca, you are doing great! It is hard when you first start budgeting to stick with it.

I second the Dave Ramsey (love love love his Total Money Makeover - we are in process ourselves)- I also don't do the cash system, just track it. I use and it has come in so handy to see where our money is going.

Just keep at it. Success means getting up one more time than you fall (no matter how many times that is).

I enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing. :)

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