MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Category: Earning & Managing Money

Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s already the second week of June and I’m behind on getting our monthly checkup posted. How did you do in May? Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

May brought a few unexpected expenses with health needs and vehicle issues, so we only put $2000 in our house savings, not $3000 like I’d hoped. However, considering the setbacks, I’m grateful we were able to put even $2000 into it.

It’s been two months since we first opened our house savings mutual fund and we now have saved $4500 towards our house. Yay! Our
short-term goal is to save $15,000 in our house savings by August 31,
2008. This is a rather ambitious goal, but we’re working hard towards
achieving it and are excited to see if we might actually make it! Who knows?

We spent some time in May putting some additional online income-earning ideas into place which we are hopeful will, Lord-willing, allow us to meet or exceed our goal of having $30,000 in our house savings by the end of the year.

———————————–
How did you do in May? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in April and the areas
you hope to improve in May. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

Ask the Readers: Saving money on groceries in Canada?

Jessica emailed and asked:

I live in eastern Canada and I love reading your site, but I find a lot of it is based on American stores…so I’m just wondering if you know of other sites that may include Canadian ideas for stores here?

I know we have at least a handful of Canadian readers here so I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for Jessica. Are there any websites out there on grocery savings for Canadians? What are your best tips for saving money on groceries in Canada?

The Two-Week Grocery Experiment: Shopping Trip

The first step in The Two-Week Grocery Experiment was to make a grocery list/rough menu based upon what we already had on hand and what was on sale at the store. None of the stores within a few minutes of our home had any really incredible deals this week, but by shopping at Hen House, Hy-Vee, and Aldi and just getting the best deals at each, I was able to pull off a pretty good shopping trip.

Here’s what I bought:

101_0025_3
Look at all that food; $76.48 is a lot of money to spend in one trip!

ALDI
5 loaves of bread – reduced to $0.50 each
1 package of bagels – $1.39
sandwich baggies – $1.99
animal crackers – $1.19
brown sugar – $0.99
flour – $1.70
trash bags – $2.49
carrots – $0.99
chips – $0.99
salad mix – $1.89
tortillas – $0.99
bag of oranges – $1.99
1 can refried beans – $0.59
1 can pumpkin – $0.69
2 cans diced tomatoes – $0.45 each
1 can pineapple – $0.79
8 oz. cheese – $1.89
2 bags of bananas – $1.39; $0.89
package of cherry tomatoes – $1.29
package of blueberries – $2.99
1 bag apples – $2.99

Total: $35.67

HEN HOUSE
2 cans green beans
2 2-ltr of 7-Up (on sale for $0.50 each with coupon; we only drink this when we’re sick but I like to keep some on hand so I buy it when I can get it very cheap)
2 boxes all natural Rice-A-Roni (free with coupons)
Ragu all natural pouch sauce ($0.40 with coupon)
Ragu sauce ($0.66 with coupon)
Ragu cheddar sauce ($0.66 with coupon)
pasta salad mix ($0.63 with coupon)
croutons ($0.65 with coupon)
peanut butter (on sale $1.47)
Oscar Meyer all beef all natural franks (on sale $2.99)
2 lbs. fresh broccoli (on sale $0.99/lb)
5 bags frozen vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli, spinach, mixed veggies – on sale $0.58/bag)
2 packages deli sliced cheese (on sale $1.39)
1 package english muffins (on sale $1.25)
Yoplait kids drink 6-pk ($1.48 with coupon–treat for the girls who came shopping with me!)
2 packages Yo-Plus yogurt 4-pks ($1.16 each with coupon)
1/2 gallon whole milk from local farm – $3.19

Total: $26.50 (saved $25.84 with coupons/sales)

HY-VEE
Butter – $1.59
Birdseye Steamfresh veggies – used free coupon
Huggies CleanTeam wipes – free with coupon
Ronzoni pasta- $0.59 with coupon
5 Muir Glen organic tomato paste – free with $1/1 coupons
1 quart vanilla yogurt – $1.59
Plasticware – $0.77 with coupon
3 lbs onions – on sale for $0.69/lb
2 pkgs. Smart Chicken thighs – marked down to $2.20 and $1.95
5 lb bag of potatoes – $1.48

Total: $13.92 (saved $15.48 with coupons/sales)

I also did a quick run to CVS to finish out the Playskool deal. However, after coupons and ECBs, I only spent $0.39. Yay!

All totaled, we spent $76.48–about $0.75 shy of the cash I brought. Now we just have to see if all this food lasts us for the next two weeks.

Up next: The Two-Week Menu

The Two-Week Grocery Experiment: Introduction

Since our Kroger stores have closed–and they were the source of most of my great grocery deals–I’ve been re-working my grocery shopping strategies and trying a variety of things to see what works best with the stores and deals we still have left. When there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Sometimes it just takes some creative ingenuity and thinking outside the box!

I stretched our last grocery shopping trip out to last almost 10 days, so when I went shopping this week, I actually had $75 to work with, as opposed to the usual $40. (I only had $35 left from the previous week’s grocery budget because I’d done a few transactions at CVS and picked up some ice cream on sale for a treat.)

This $75 was to last us for the next week and a half but I decided to see if I could buy enough to last us for two weeks instead. I’ve never shopped for two weeks in my life, nor have I ever spent $75 on one grocery outing (save for back in the days when I wasn’t married yet and was doing the shopping for my parents and six siblings!), but I figured I might as well try it and see what happens.

While I have yet to see if the groceries I bought do indeed last us for two weeks, I have already noticed two things:

1) I spent less time buying groceries.

I usually spend approximately 30-45 minutes planning the weekly grocery trip including going through the sale ads, matching the sales with coupons, pulling the coupons, making my lists, and writing a rough menu plan. (I often don’t write the final menu plan until I arrive home from the store as I sometimes substitute and make changes while at the store if I find an exceptional deal.)

My weekly shopping trip (usually hitting between 2-3 stores) normally takes me around 2 hours, including driving time.

Instead of doubling that time to shop for two weeks, I actually only spent around 45 minutes of preparation time and just under 3 hour of shopping time. So, I shaved off around an hour to an hour and a half of time by shopping for two weeks’ worth of groceries.

2) I was able to stockpile more than usual.

I’m not sure what it was, but something about having $75 to spend gave me more wiggle room to stock up. For example, I found loaves of bread at Aldi reduced to $0.50/loaf. On our usual $40/week plan, I likely would have bought two–twice what we normally buy for a week. Instead, I was able to afford to buy six loaves which I stuck in the freezer and will likely last us for at least five weeks.

I also bought 5-7 other items I probably would not have been able to wing in our usual budget; I’m not sure why that was but I seemed to get more bang for my buck with more money to spend. I’m still pondering that phenomenon!

And do you know how much $75 can buy at the grocery store? I felt like I’d just become independently wealthy or something when I unloaded all those groceries onto the belt at the checkout stand! In the next installment in this series, I’ll share what all I bought for $75. Stay tuned.

I’ve always said that shopping every week is likely the best way to maximize on sales and deals since store sales usually change each week. However, after noticing the time saved and my ability to stockpile more with two week’s worth of grocery money, I’m wondering if perhaps that’s not always the case. I’ll tell you how it goes and what my conclusions are in this The Two-Week Grocery Experiment series.

How often do you shop? Do you think that shopping every week is the best strategy? I’d love to hear!

Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly Check-up

It’s the beginning of May–wow!–and that means it’s time for our monthly Financial Shape in 2008 Check-up. How did you do in April?

Here’s how we did:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April.

As of March 11, 2008–DONE!

2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA.

We were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also set up our HSA. So another goal to check off the list! Woohoo!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this.

Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of his income as soon as we purchase our home.)

4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it.

Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years.

Now that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5! We opened our house savings mutual fund the end of March, and as of the end of April, we have $2500 in it. I was hoping it would be more like $3000, but I’m grateful that we at least made some decent headway.

Our short-term goal is to save $15,000 in our house savings by August 31, 2008–this is a rather ambitious goal, but we’re working hard towards achieving it and are excited to see if we might actually make it!