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Reducing expenses

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Okay, I know this topic has probably been discussed here numerous times before, but......

I just asked for (and got) comp time for my overtime tax season pay so basically I'm giving up about $4,000 gross income/year but after April 15th, I'll work 32 hour weeks with Friday's off. So, I'm trying to reduce our spending, esp the grocery bill. We've got a lot of land so I'm thinking I'll start growing some veggies in the summer and freezing or canning some of it. Plus, we eat out way too much b/c of my lack of time to cook very much so I'm thinking of making meals ahead of time and freezing them. Anybody here do that??? Just wondering if the garden growing will really reduce out grocery bill very much. I buy everything that I can generic. The problem is I buy too much prepared food. I'm going to have to learn how to cook from scratch more. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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Okay, I know this topic has probably been discussed here numerous times before, but......

I just asked for (and got) comp time for my overtime tax season pay so basically I'm giving up about $4,000 gross income/year but after April 15th, I'll work 32 hour weeks with Friday's off. So, I'm trying to reduce our spending, esp the grocery bill. We've got a lot of land so I'm thinking I'll start growing some veggies in the summer and freezing or canning some of it. Plus, we eat out way too much b/c of my lack of time to cook very much so I'm thinking of making meals ahead of time and freezing them. Anybody here do that??? Just wondering if the garden growing will really reduce out grocery bill very much. I buy everything that I can generic. The problem is I buy too much prepared food. I'm going to have to learn how to cook from scratch more. Any suggestions? Thanks.

 

 

The garden will only help if you buy a lot of the foods you plan on growing anyway...IMO. We had one (when I was in h.s.), and the food was great..but I don't think it cut down on the bill.

 

If you want...and I don't think this is against the TOS as I found out about it here, you can check out the grocery game (thegrocerygame.com)..It does cost money (not a lot) but helps tell ya when you should buy things at the LOWEST price, plus what coupon you should use (you'll need to start clippin' coupons if ya don't already). They have a message board there too...You might want to check that out first and see if you might be interested by talking to those that do the grocery game (I've fallen off but need to pick it back up).

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Check out forums for budgeting, thriftyness, being frugal etc. I personally did not really find gardening to be money saving, except for herbs-they are easy to grow and expensive to buy. I loved having parsley, basil, chives, etc. right at my fingertips. Putting up food can also be pretty expensive and time consuming. If you have a freezer that is the best way to save money (IMHO). Buy bulk when stuff is on sale or you have coupons and freeze anything that is freezable. By buying bulk I do not mean bigger packages. I mean if something is on sale for a REALLY good price then buy lots of it. I have one of those vacuum packing machines that I got as a gift, but the special bags are very expensive so I don't use it. Pack stuff in reusable plastic containers that are marked very well and include dates. Go to the grocery stores early in the morning and get the marked down meats. Make a price book and stick to it. Don't buy something unless it is at its cheapest. For example, I never buy peanut butter unless its .99 for 18oz or less. I do not buy boneless meat unless its less than 1.99lb, no burger unless its less than 1.29lb, and so on.

Look up recipes on the internet by using keywords such as cheap, budget etc. Most often the simpler the recipe the cheaper it is. Also, take into account how long something has to cook and the method of cooking. If you heat with a wood stove or a fireplace consider using that heat for making pots of stew....

Utilize leftovers. Its amazing what you can do with them... Some cheap foods such as potatoes and rice have hundreds of different ways to be served. Soup and sandwiches are great and often inexpensive. Avoid expensive mixes and things like those salads in a bag. A head of iceburg lettuce is way cheaper and topped with some homemade thousand island dressing is very refreshing. Some really cheap, but great meals are

fritatta, salad, bread

tomato soup, grilled cheese

chili, cornbread

ham hock with green beans

spaghetti and garlic bread

crabmeat enchiladas and corn on cob (I use canned crabmeat from Walmart 1.50 for one can)

cheese chicken rice (canned cheese soup, rice and thighs) Costs less than $3 bucks and feeds 6 or more easy

Strata (always a favorite at my house-never told the kids we were basically eating stale bread LOL)

 

I used to make my own laundry detergent too, but that was back when I had 7 kids. Its very easy to make and very cheap. I don't remember exactly now, but I think I used 1 bar of Ivory Soap and Borax...that's it and it made like 2-3 gallons of detergent. I got the Ivory Soap for free with double coupons.

 

I could go on and on, but if you are serious there are lots of resources for this. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.............LOL.

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If you like to eat a lot of salads, a garden can really save cash. Salad fixings are very expensive, just like fresh herbs. We have seen tomatoes/tomatoes at over $2/lb and that being a sale price. When I was growing up my parents had a limited garden. They grew tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, potatoes, corn. My parents ate salads a lot as a snack or light meal so it saved them a lot. And they had labor for free since it was up to us kids to tend the garden. I actually loved tending the garden.

 

You can grow stuff like tomatoes, lettuce, cukes in containers on a porch.

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If you like to eat a lot of salads, a garden can really save cash. Salad fixings are very expensive, just like fresh herbs. We have seen tomatoes/tomatoes at over $2/lb and that being a sale price. When I was growing up my parents had a limited garden. They grew tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, potatoes, corn. My parents ate salads a lot as a snack or light meal so it saved them a lot. And they had labor for free since it was up to us kids to tend the garden. I actually loved tending the garden.

 

You can grow stuff like tomatoes, lettuce, cukes in containers on a porch.

 

 

OOOH, homegrown tomatoes are DELICIOUS...Much better tasting IMO than the storebought if that makes any sense. We grew okra, squash, beans, watermelon...I can't remember what else... :blink:

 

My nextdoor neighbors right now have some potted plants of herbs...I'm SOOO thinking about doing that for fresh herbs! I'm also thinking about doing a potted tomato one :angry:

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Also search for "frugal cooking" and "once a month cooking" - you don't have to do everything but you'll get some great advice on eating cheaper. I'm going to try once every 2 week cooking - we have to get ahead a little first though to get everything in one trip. Right now we're eating out of the cupboard - the only things we buy are milk, coffee and butter. Beans and potato's are cheap and usually very filling - also very versatile so you can mix in or add what you have on hand. Another thing I was going to do was to make up a pot of soup and have a cup of soup before supper or for the period between getting home and cooking. I'm also trying to get more vegetables into our diet and I thought soup would be a good way to do it. Our biggest problem is waste, things go into the fridge with good intentions and then are forgotten - I'm definitely going to make using up things a priority this year. We rarely buy convenience foods - hamburger helper(we stretch it out by adding about a cup of veggies and extra pasta; campbell's cream soups are the exception and once in awhile we'll buy snacks. Right now we have about 15 lbs of oranges from a drive at dd's school - we're sick of eating them straight (that would be from the 1st 10 lbs.)and all I can think of is juice now.

 

I'd love to have a small garden, if its food you know you'll eat I think it will save you money as long as you're sure to use it up or freeze it. I've heard of friends being over-run with tomato's or zucchini from only a few plants - they give it away because they don't want to be bothered preserving it. I know tomato's around here are pricey even in season and from the farmer's market. A garden is a bit iffy around here - I'm in the midwest and we have neighbors who lost their gardens from a late frost.

 

Univ of Nebraska has a really good website - check any Agriculture programs at a local college, they may have something online and you'll have info on garden planning for the soil and temps in your area, pest control, etc.. Ours even has a toll free number if you have questions. They're really trying to encourage people to grown their own food.

 

chris

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I have found that it saves me more money to keep meals simple. Some grilled/roasted chicken and a couple of sides worked a cheaper than a casserole. I have also found that doing away with the "junk" saves quite a bit! No more chips, soda, snack cakes, etc. And my kids don't miss it! They are just as happy to snack on some fruit, crackers, and cheese, and that stuff fills them up more than chips, so they don't eat as much.

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I would suggest joining a savings club like Sam’s Club or Costco. I believe there are others, but I can’t remember them at the moment. I have a Sam’s membership (at a cost of $35/year) and it saves me on certain things. Not everything. But it does help save. I like frozen veggies, however, they are expensive so I now do canned veggies. Cheaper in bulk at Sam’s. Also, they have good deals on dry goods. For example, a pack of 10 Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for not that much (sorry I can’t quote exact prices at the moment). Also, deals on cereals, rice, oatmeal, soup, a variety of canned goods, fresh fruit, breakfast foods, laundry detergent, et cetera.

 

The meats I’ve found are extremely generous as far as price goes. For health reasons I choose not to eat a lot of red meat, and no pork, so I eat a lot of poultry. I’ll get a lot of wings and chicken breasts, as well as ground turkey for spaghetti and anything else I can use it for to replace ground beef. With three children in my household and two adults, I can feed the family off of three chicken breasts on any given night. I split a large breast between the three children and cook two others for my girlfriend and I. Just one strategy I use. I do utilize a vacuum sealer for freezing my meats.

 

I have not tried the cooking ahead strategy myself. I will soon. I’ve been looking into living more frugal. Just do an internet search on “cooking ahead†and “frugal cooking.†Another thing that will help you is eat your leftovers. That’s wasted food if you don’t eat it. It’s not fancy or terribly interesting to eat the same thing twice in a week, but it will save you money. I had to religiously enforce that in my home after the kids kept wasting too much. Started giving smaller portions to them and saving more for leftovers. Have something new the next night, and on the third night have the leftovers from the first day’s dinner. Also, I take leftovers to work for lunch. And except for the occasional treat, I stay away from eating out. You will be surprised how quickly those “value†meals add up once you buy for five people two or three times a week. After examining my spending one month, I realized that I had spent over $100 on fast food in a single month. Enough to make you hurl a kidney. Just my two cents…Hope it was helpful.

 

 

Best regards,

 

Mario

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One thing I do is clip coupons. We have a grocery store here in FL that does buy one get one free specials every week. I used coupons on top of that, and my grocery bill is fairly small each month, and we have a family of 4. The cereal will be BOGOF (Cheerios for example) and I will have a coupon if you buy two boxes you get $1.00 off, so 2 large boxes of cereal that would normally cost $3.91 each ($7.82 for both) I will get both boxes for $2.91. The size boxes they are, you can't get as many cheerios in the generic brand for that same price.

 

I always try to buy BOGOF items with coupons, or on sale items with coupons. I stock up. If it isn't on sale (except meat and other things that normally aren't on a big sale) I won't buy it.

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"IF" IS IS NOT IN THE SAFEWAY AD I DON'T BUY IT (usually)

 

BOGO I USUALLY GET 4 or 6 (sometimes 10 or 20)

Edited by GEORGE

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You should do quite well just by eating out less. Sometimes we dont realise how much that adds up.

I think canning/freezing does help in the long run. Alot of my family does this, they have freezers full & basements full of food. Pretty sure if anything ever happened they would be able to survive for months without having to head to a store..lol

 

I actually dont do much coupon clipping, because there usually isnt a whole lot in there I would

"normally" buy.

 

Overall just eating out less, and managing what you are eating.. I think it can definantly be done

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You should do quite well just by eating out less. Sometimes we dont realise how much that adds up.

I think canning/freezing does help in the long run. Alot of my family does this, they have freezers full & basements full of food. Pretty sure if anything ever happened they would be able to survive for months without having to head to a store..lol

 

I actually dont do much coupon clipping, because there usually isnt a whole lot in there I would

"normally" buy.

 

Overall just eating out less, and managing what you are eating.. I think it can definantly be done

HAVE EXTRA TP

 

(we were on the last 4 pack and didn't know that the BACKSTOCK was empty)

 

We got SNOWED IN for like 3 days

 

NOTHING WENT IN OR OUT OF THE STREET!!!

 

You couldn't even get to the main road with-out walking over 36" of snow

 

(we are in the county)

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Okay, I know this topic has probably been discussed here numerous times before, but......

I just asked for (and got) comp time for my overtime tax season pay so basically I'm giving up about $4,000 gross income/year but after April 15th, I'll work 32 hour weeks with Friday's off. So, I'm trying to reduce our spending, esp the grocery bill. We've got a lot of land so I'm thinking I'll start growing some veggies in the summer and freezing or canning some of it. Plus, we eat out way too much b/c of my lack of time to cook very much so I'm thinking of making meals ahead of time and freezing them. Anybody here do that??? Just wondering if the garden growing will really reduce out grocery bill very much. I buy everything that I can generic. The problem is I buy too much prepared food. I'm going to have to learn how to cook from scratch more. Any suggestions? Thanks.

 

 

The garden will only help if you buy a lot of the foods you plan on growing anyway...IMO. We had one (when I was in h.s.), and the food was great..but I don't think it cut down on the bill.

 

If you want...and I don't think this is against the TOS as I found out about it here, you can check out the grocery game (thegrocerygame.com)..It does cost money (not a lot) but helps tell ya when you should buy things at the LOWEST price, plus what coupon you should use (you'll need to start clippin' coupons if ya don't already). They have a message board there too...You might want to check that out first and see if you might be interested by talking to those that do the grocery game (I've fallen off but need to pick it back up).

 

Excellent idea there. Here's another site. Does the same thing as the one mentioned above but doesn't cost anything. www.cutouthunger.org . Some of the stuff they recommend you buy to give to charity as it's so inexpensive, but you can do the same to save yourself money.

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

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After my mom died, my dad was reduced to cooking for one. He invested in a vacuum sealer and I bought him an upright freezer very cheap. He would cook up meals like he normally did. Then he cut it into portions and vacuum sealed it. Each package was labeled and then put into the freezer. My brother would go over every month to help him cook. He also bought fresh veggies, like beans and froze them in single servings. Anything he pre-cooked he could just toss in a pot of water and when it was warmed up, he just cut the bag open and was ready to eat. He even seperated out breads, like hotdog buns, into single serve packs and kept them in the freezer.

 

DH & I buy large packs of hamburger, chicken, etc and then seperate them into meal size and freeze. We also buy our bread monthly and freeze it. Just have to remember to get another loaf thawing before you run out. With our chest freezer, if we see something reduced, we can buy large quantities. We got some beef reduced 1 time and literally had a full buggy @ WalMart. We paid about 1/2 price for it on average. But we didn't buy meats again for almost 3 months.

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

 

JMO but I disagree about coupons doing almost nothing. Some stores will offer double coupons, and then if you use them on top of sale items, they sure add up.

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I used to buy a lot of convenience foods too, till the bottom fell out of our finances. Now I cook every night and the reality is that it doesn't really take that much longer. A few slices of ham in a skillet, a pan of rice that I add my own seasoning to and a can of veggies takes about 15 to 20 minutes. We have gone out to eat three times in 6 months, courtesy of gift cards. Do I miss it? Absolutely, but I appreciate it a whole lot more now. One thing I do to cut grocery costs (and have done for 25 yrs) is make a menu for the week, and ingredients list from that menu, and that's all I buy...period. I always include snacks or desserts on the menu so we don't go without, but it also keeps me from buying what I don't need. The only exceptions are sales that will save me at least 50% on items I normally buy. In that case I will buy as many as I can afford that week. We always have extra cash in the summer, so last year we bought a freezer, side of beef and half a pig. Not only did it save us a ton of money but the meat was excellent. I dont buy donuts, coffee from the drive thru, etc. All those things add up to a chunk of money.

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

 

JMO but I disagree about coupons doing almost nothing. Some stores will offer double coupons, and then if you use them on top of sale items, they sure add up.

 

 

Depends..

 

If the coupons are for things you "normally" wouldn't buy..your not really saving money

Its fine if you were buying that product anyway, but sometimes we just think "oh I will save $2.00, when you may have never spent the extra $3.00 to begin with

 

But if you can get them to work for ya, then great :glare:

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

 

JMO but I disagree about coupons doing almost nothing. Some stores will offer double coupons, and then if you use them on top of sale items, they sure add up.

 

 

Yep I agree...I have about 12 things of shampoo and conditioner (name brands like Dove, etc) that were all less than $1 with coupons. Got bunches of bath wash for less than $2 in almost all cases...We won't go over how much laundry detergent and liquid fabric softener I have comin' out my ears :blush2:

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

 

JMO but I disagree about coupons doing almost nothing. Some stores will offer double coupons, and then if you use them on top of sale items, they sure add up.

 

 

Depends..

 

If the coupons are for things you "normally" wouldn't buy..your not really saving money

Its fine if you were buying that product anyway, but sometimes we just think "oh I will save $2.00, when you may have never spent the extra $3.00 to begin with

 

But if you can get them to work for ya, then great :blush2:

 

The thing is instead of using it THAT week, hold onto it until the prices drop on that item and make sure it's something you will EVENTUALLY need anyway (soap, detergent, meat, ketchup)...BUT it won't work if you are married to a brand IMO..

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You should do quite well just by eating out less. Sometimes we dont realise how much that adds up.

I think canning/freezing does help in the long run. Alot of my family does this, they have freezers full & basements full of food. Pretty sure if anything ever happened they would be able to survive for months without having to head to a store..lol

 

I actually dont do much coupon clipping, because there usually isnt a whole lot in there I would

"normally" buy.

 

Overall just eating out less, and managing what you are eating.. I think it can definantly be done

 

I completely agree about eating out less! I also used to think the same thing about coupons, but I have really changed my mind. I do still disregard coupons for the processed food items (unless they are free and I can donate them to others) but I get huge savings for cleaning products, personal items, household goods, etc. I have also found that there are lots of coupons for organic products and items like milk, bread, flour, sugar, olive oil, and cheese. I have gone from spending $100 per week at the grocery store plus $50 a month at walmart (approx $450 a month on food and household items) to $50 - 60 a week on everything ($240 a month). When I was spending $450 a month, we were eating out by the end of the week because the cabinets were empty. Now I can throw together a dinner at any time and we rarely eat out. I get much better deals with coupons than with buying generics. I don't even have an extra freezer.

 

It is strange, because I have never really been this structured with my money. But in the past year, I have paid off 1/2 of my debt and it will be paid off fully by the end of this year. I also paid for every purchase in full during 2005, paid for every "emergency" that came up, and purchased a few large items for my household that I saved for like a new chair and TV. I never thought I could pay off my debt because it always seemed so large to me. I also never dreamed that I would pay for my small wedding and honeymoon in cash and start 2 savings accounts. Using coupons not only saved me money, but it helped me think differently about money and how to take control of my finances. Reading these forums is where I initially started learning about how to deal with my money and I love seeing how other people are finding ways to save and spend wisely!

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Thanks everyone for all the helpful replies. I'm on my way to a cheaper grocery bill. For the last few years, I've said I was going to do it, but this time I REALLY am. This weekend, I'm making a budget and I'm sure I'll be shocked to see how much $$ is going to Walmart. I've got to get in under control Thanks again.

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Don't know if this has been mentioned, but I like to cook alot and have leftovers the next night. This also provides lunches so my DH doesn't eat lunch out.

 

We are lucky to have an Aldi's near us that cut our budget in 1/2! We also go to a farmer's market that is open year round near us and we can get a bushel of apples for $10.

 

Make dinner menus at least 2 weeks in advance that really helps as well.

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Hi,

 

I want to add my agreement to try to eat meals at home, and especially to look into the Grocery Game. We learned about it here too.

 

I used to be one of those people who turned up my nose at coupons... I thought they were generally for crappy junk food, but I couldn't have been more wrong. We now get 3-4 papers a week, clip everything, and then quickly organize it.

 

On average, we save anywhere from 50 to 60% off our regular grocery bills. We now have several full closets full of food and personal care items, as well as an emergency bin (for the next hurricane evacuation!) We're trying to get to 6 months worth of food.

 

Today while sorting through some excess paperwork, getting ready to file taxes, I found an old receipt from a drugstore, back in 2001. I was appalled to see how much I paid for deodorant, hand lotion and soap. On our last trip to the store we ran a tab of $28. With coupons it came to $16.38. That included eight cans of tomato sauce and two conditioners that were free after coupons. Some of the other highlights, besides free stuff like Suave shampoo, Tony Chachere rice and Idahoan mashed potatoes, includes $1 St. Ives lotion, 9 cent Hunts ketchup and Johnson's baby soap, 29 cent deodorant, and so on.

 

The key is really to buy multiple papers, clip coupons, buy at a place like Krogers that doubles and triples coupons, and then wait to see when the price tanks to its lowest. Grocery Game follows a 12 week scenario, tracking prices - but you can also do it yourself with a homemade price book. As far as I'm concerned I'd rather pay $5 a month for the Grocery Game and let them crunch the numbers.

 

The other thing we do is buy certain items at Wal-Mart or Target, stuff like butter and eggs that are not going to be couponed.

 

We also participate in some coupon trains. Coupons we don't use, we trade (and often get some other great ones), and when coupons expire we send them to the Overseas Coupon Program (http://www.ocpnet.org/), because they can be used at military commissaries overseas up to six months after expiration. You can also check sites like the Taylortown coupon site to find out what's in a paper; one week it might be worthwhile to only buy 2 papers, rather than 4.

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The only advice I have is to plan your meals. Make allowances for leftovers, too. I look for recipes that can be used for 2 meals.

 

I save the Sunday grocery flyer so that I can see on Saturday (my planning and shopping day) what's on sale. Coupons do almost nothing. Buy the store brand whenever possible.

 

We have a family of 4 - 2 adults, a teen, and a child and our food budget is $100/week. Weeks that I'm under budget are saved for special occasion weeks (like the upcoming SuperBowl). I also carry a calculator when I shop.

 

JMO but I disagree about coupons doing almost nothing. Some stores will offer double coupons, and then if you use them on top of sale items, they sure add up.

 

 

Depends..

 

If the coupons are for things you "normally" wouldn't buy..your not really saving money

Its fine if you were buying that product anyway, but sometimes we just think "oh I will save $2.00, when you may have never spent the extra $3.00 to begin with

 

But if you can get them to work for ya, then great :stop:

 

The thing is instead of using it THAT week, hold onto it until the prices drop on that item and make sure it's something you will EVENTUALLY need anyway (soap, detergent, meat, ketchup)...BUT it won't work if you are married to a brand IMO..

 

Exactly! If you go to www.cutouthunger.org the site will tell you which items are on sale and which week a coupon for the same item was in the paper. The site explains how you can save the most. The idea is save the coupon flyers every week. They're all dated. Then when the item you want is on sale and and there's a coupon, the site tells you which week's flyer to look at, then you just cut out the coupons you're going to use. I've seen on the news where people have saved enough to quit their part time jobs. Depends on the size of your family and how you go about it but I suppose it could work.

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