There is no question that I saved A LOT of money last year couponing, but I also bought items my family did not like, items full of preservatives, items full of sodium, and products I was not happy with. Some people love couponing and it works really well for them, but for me it did not. I looked back to see more "convenience" food than fresh food. I disliked cooking because it was no longer fun. I was just dumping boxes into a pan, bowl, or dish.
I will admit I am not 100% free of preservatives or processed food, but we are doing a million times better than when I was shopping sales and coupons. At least once per week we have a meatless meal which was unheard of in the past. We are exposed to such great ingredients and have found new ones we love.
Since I feel better about my shopping technique and cooking again I decided to do a comparison to see where I am at now compared to where I was at last year at this time. I was pleasantly surprised that I have spent quite a bit less and I have laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and cleaning supplies (all recipes found HERE) that will last most of the year!
Here is a screen shot of my spreadsheets:
Spent $827.59 for groceries through February in 2011.
Spent $656.83 for groceries through the end of February so far! That is $170.76 difference so far! I look forward to see the difference at the end of year.
You will notice I no longer track my savings for percent saved. The reason for this is because I buy "frugally" I do not "deal" shop. This means I buy products based on the best bang for my buck. I do not buy a product because it is on sale or I have a coupon. This may seem confusing, but it is actually simple. For example, I buy a lot of store brand products because they are equivalent to the name brand, but are cheaper. Another example would be today when I bought syrup. I bought Mrs. Butterworth's for 90 cents more than the store brand because it came with 50% more syrup. I know we will use it and it cuts my overall spending. I will spend $2 on a 5lb bag of potatoes because that is what I need instead of spending $2.99 on 15 lbs. If we will not use it then it is waste and I would be throwing away money.
Just keep in mind being frugal does not mean being cheap. I purchase quality over quantity and only buy the quantity I need instead of buying extra of something I will not use. Because this is my new mind set I will not track percentage saved or amount saved because it does not apply. My goal is to spend a certain amount of money. It keeps me on track and I am not pressured to reach a certain percentage. The coupon world focuses on the percent saved, but to me that promotes wasteful and reckless spending. That is my experience and that is exactly what I did to try and reach my goals couponing.
Now that we have compared the two years I do want you to know I will spend a little bit more this month because I do have to pick up fresh produce for my meals through the month. To refresh what I need to buy yet here is my list:
I don't expect to spend too much more on these items so I can easily say that I will be saving around $150 on groceries from last year at this time. Not to mention all the time saved by not hunting down deals and coupons plus the cost of ink or buying Sunday papers (which I didn't do too often, but still did occasionally). I am thrilled to see this system working for me. The most important thing is to find what works for your family and the best system for you to achieve your budget goals.
I think I will do a side by side comparison at the end of each month to help keep me on track and see how I am doing with planning. It will be interesting to see where I am at the end of the year.
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