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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Budgeting: Grocery Store and Household Goods

I spend about $600 a month in groceries and such.  This has a lot of people interested in how I do this. . . without coupons.  I am sure that if I took the time to coupon, I'd save even more money, but I have not found couponing to be really "up my alley."  My issues with couponing is that you usually have to buy all sorts of processed products--stuff we just don't use.  And to get the biggest bang for your couponing, you have to shop at a variety of grocery stores, big box stores, and every drug store.  I'm sorry, but I just don't have time for that while I am lugging 3 small children around with me.

So, yes, $600 isn't some amazing low number, but I think it is pretty good for a family of 5 (even if 3 of them are little people).

Soooo, how it breaks down: I spend an average of $125 a week at the grocery store  ($500 a month) and $100 a month at Sam's Club (one trip a month).

The food savings is really quite easy.  Just plan out your meals, making sure you only have 1 (if that) expensive meal a week.  I usually have 1 pasta meal to help stretch our dollar.  When I shop, I pretty much stick to the perimeter of the grocery store.  Going up those internal aisles will just cost you more money and will probably be not so good for your health.  Most of my dinner meals make enough for us to have left overs for Bryan to take for lunch the next day.

As you can see from the picture at the top, we use cloth napkins.  I made most of these with remnants of fabric that was on clearance at Hancock Fabrics.  With cloth napkins, I don't need to buy paper napkins or paper towels.  The only paper products I buy are tissues and toilet paper. If I really went "over the edge," I could keep small wash cloths in the bathroom in a coconut oil solution instead of toilet paper.  Wow!  Could you imagine coming over to my house and using the bathroom???  lol that is almost too funny, I think I might have to play a trick on my next visitors! :o)  I could also make my family members use hankies instead of tissues.  Anyway, I buy tissues and toilet paper (only use Scott) when it is on sale and/or in bulk so it really doesn't cost much.

Another area where people say they spend a lot of money is with cleaning supplies.  This costs me almost nothing!  What you see in the picture above is Shaklee's Basic H.  It is a concentrated liquid that you dilute to varying degrees for different purposes: the strongest strength is a degreaser, the next is an all purpose cleaner, and the weakest dilution is a window cleaner.  I bought this bottle of concentrate (about $14) over 3 years ago and it is a little over half full.  I don't use the window cleaning solution often, because I have a microfiber cloth that you just wet, squeeze as much water out of, and use to clean windows and mirrors--NO cleaning agents!  It works beautifully!  I purchase laundry detergent through amazon when I see a really good sale, and I purchase probably 1 bottle of dish detergent every other month.  Not bad, I probably spend a total of $20 to $30 a year on cleaning supplies.

Now for my floors.  I don't use any chemicals on my floors either.  I use a Shark, which cleans with hot steam, on my tile and hard wood floors.

Lastly, diapers.  Yes I spend $600 a month including diapering my kids.  This is thanks to the wonder of modern day cloth diapers.  For just over $200, I have diapered my children.  TOTAL.  ALL 3 of THEM!  Now, I have bought disposables to use when other people watch my kids or when I fell behind with laundry, or they got a case of diaper rash, but I buy the diapers on amazon and never pay more than 10 cents a diaper.  I also buy wipes on amazon.  (At one point I was use cloth wipes, but I got tired of having one more thing to wash and prep.)

On the subject of Sam's Club.  I think you need to be careful in these club stores.  I keep what I buy to a minimum.  I buy trash bags,  shampoo, body wash, soap for the dish washer, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, canned chicken (yes, I know that is that really healthy, and kinda expensive, but I use it on occasion in recipes when I don't feel like cooking a piece of chicken), and a few other pantry items.  I have been going less than once a month and spending less than $100 each time I go.

And speaking of bath products, I think I do pretty good saving on them too.  I get my hair very wet, lathering water into it so I only need a quarter sized dollop of shampoo.  I also use a quarter sized dollop of body wash.  I lather it in both hands, use one hand to lather up one arm and half of my back and chest, re-lather my hands, use the other hand to lather up the other half of my upper body, re-lather my hands one more time and wash my legs.  I haven't bought shampoo or body wash for myself in 2 and a half years!

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