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Frugal Friday: Alyssa vlogs her coupon binder

It’s Frugal Friday over on my other blog and all of you frugal zealots will want to go check out the money-saving goodness overflowing from the links left there. I shared a new recipe we tried this week for a yummy breakfast.

Alyssa’s vlog on her coupon binder takes the cake. In light of our recent discussion on coupon organization methods, I thought many of you would find it especially helpful. Check it out here.

And while I’m sharing links, here are a few more:

Did anyone else get a little chuckle out of MSN’s article on a family of four attempting to eat on $100 a week? I found it quite hilarious that we are feeding our family for less than half the amount allotted on food stamps! (Food stamps allow you $117/week for a family of four, we get by quite nicely on $40 for a family of 4. We do go out to eat once or twice a week, but we’re still well under that $117 budget.)

BabyCheapskate did a great series this week on all things related to cloth diapering. If the subject is remotely interesting to you, you’ll definitely want to take a peek.

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  • Truthfully, we’re a family of five, and I’m starting small and trying to reach 100 dollars a week. Honestly, I find that it takes much thought and planning. I think cloth diapers would help, but we haven’t gone that route. I do find I’m trying to be much more conservative, but with children 3.5, 2, and 5 months, I still sometimes sacrifice cost for convenience. I don’t know what I’m saying other than I admire your 40 dollar budget, but think it takes much time, practice, and prayer to get there.

  • i thought the constraints on the author were kinda nuts (no coupons, no warehouse stores, etc.). it just seemed like an unrealistic scenario. i’d rather use $30 worth of coupons each week and buy fresh produce with the savings and still have a bill of only $75 or so (i’m still doing some stockpiling right now!).

  • Okay, Crystal, now I’m chuckling. I read the article and it metioned that cleaning supplies and paper goods weren’t even included. Well, I could do that!

  • jenni williams says:

    i saw that and thought thats a ton of money!!! i just started trying to save using coupons and i only spent 55 for this week for a family of 5! and i bought laundry soap!

  • Amy says:

    Yes – that’s hilarious! I immediately thought of you when I read that silly article. I only have my budget down to $350/mo., but I could try harder. It was silly that she acted like it was impossible. Perhaps you could take her shopping?! 🙂


  • Cassandra says:

    That MSN article was unbelievable! She kept on talking about the ‘tiny budget’, but it is way over my grocery budget- and we are a family of 6!(living on an assistant pastor’s salary!) I have $60 a week to feed my family on- and another $20 for non-grocery items. So, for groceries, diapers, wipes, toilet paper, toothpaste, and all other essentials, I have $80 a week to cover it. And thanks to this website, coupons, and CVS, we make it just fine- and we eat out at least once a week! What a hoot! And I wonder, why couldn’t she use coupons? Is it because most people don’t? I didn’t get that stipulation. Thanks for all you do, or I might have the same mind-set!

  • Liz says:

    I got a good laugh from this article also. I couldn’t believe that the original weekly grocery bill was over $250 and that the $100 didn’t include household products – just food. I think that most people buy a lot of processed / frozen foods – which we all know are really expensive.

  • Alyssa says:

    Wow! I can’t imagine spending $250/week on groceries! I don’t even spend that a month!
    I guess some people just don’t have a frugal mindset-at all. When you don’t have the money, you simply don’t buy the “extras”. But I guess if you have money to blow…
    Wow again!

  • Tara says:

    I was just laughing with coworkers about the MSN article. If I spent $100 a week on groceries I would feel like the Queen of Sheba. We average $50 for a family of 4 and used to get by on about $30 for a family of three. I understand that she wasn’t using coupons and was supposed to shop at a national chain, but that still shouldn’t have been hard to do at all!! Apparently some people just have no idea how to get the most for your money.

  • Dona says:

    Just giving you my opinon. I did the binder method for awhile, but I found the filing of the coupons to be a huge pain and very time consuming. I do a method similar to your box–envelops and tabs made of cardstock. I love this method for the easy of creating inexpensively as many categories as I want. I did mix mine up a little bit. I used colorful card stock to create my tabs protruding from the envelopes. This helped with quickly filing my coupons. You see I would use dark pink cardstock for all Baby items so you would see the word “BABY” with a – dash after it for “Diapers” The next Card would be pink too but it would say “BABY-Wipes” But all “Baby” categories would be in the Pink colored tab, then the next tab might be “Boxed Food” and this would be on Yellow card Stock. Using the coloring helps me quickly jump from one section to the next for quickly filing or finding my coupons.
    Well you do what makes you feel comfortable, but ease your way into changing, cause you may not like it. To me the binder was way more time consuming.

  • Sherri says:

    The MSN article was both amusing and saddening. On $100 a week my family of 5 could eat like kings. Steak every night!

    But people are lazy, not even willing to look at the sale flyer to see what they can save money on. I’m glad that reporter was able to find some useful information to pass along, even if her conclusions that “it can’t be done” were off base.

    People on Food Stamps wouldn’t have to struggle to make the money last until the end of the month, if only they had the skills to shop better. I went to my local Salvation Army office and offered to teach anyone who was willing to learn, but the counselor said she didn’t have any “clients” who wanted to change their habits. What can you do?

    Money Saving Mom here: While I agree in part, on the other hand, I think that there are a lot of people out there who *want* to change their spending habits, they just don’t know how. If no one cared about trying to save money or put forth effort, there wouldn’t be thousands of visitors frequenting the frugal blogs everyday!

    Yes, there will always be those people who will sit around waiting for people to hand them fish, but I guarantee you that if you keep trying to teach others to fish, you’ll find some who want to learn!

  • Amara says:

    I, too, was shocked that spending $100 left the MSN family feeling so deprived. At a museum exhibit on money today, I discovered that annual income– yes, I said annual– in some parts of the world (for a family of 4) was $200. In another country, a family spent 77% of their earnings (2,000 a year) on food. We certainly are spoiled here in the USA, aren’t we?

  • hillery says:

    I thought I was being pretty generous with our budget when I gave us $350 a month for groceries and all other household staples for a family of 4. Then I find out that is less than food stamps? What? I have been so happy that I have now discovered real couponing and how to use it, that I used almost $100 of coupons this month so far! Wow! Now we do eat like kings, and for less money than before!

  • Brenda says:

    I think it is important to note that her budget did not allow for her to use COUPONS. When you take that into consideration along with not being able to go to discount warehouses etc. Granted you could still use the sale items etc, but without coupons it does make it a bit more difficult to slash your bill.

  • Brenda says:

    I think it is important to note that her budget did not allow for her to use COUPONS. When you take that into consideration along with not being able to go to discount warehouses etc. Granted you could still use the sale items etc, but without coupons it does make it a bit more difficult to slash your bill.

  • Anna says:

    I was just reading the comments, and it seems a lot of people think that if you spend $100 a week on groceries, you just don’t care where you spend your money, and you don’t try to save at all.
    I’d like to mention, though, that not everybody has the stores around them with great deals, and/or hasn’t been taught to shop extremely frugally. This is my experience anyway. We live in a rural area, and don’t have many of the CVS/Walgreen stores, or big chain grocery stores that run awesome sales. Much as I try, and would love to cut back on our grocery bill, I still spend a lot more than you all seem to.

    So, I guess, please don’t assume that everyone who spends a lot more than you, is necessarily careless! BTW, this blog is definitely a help!

  • Michele says:

    I agree with Anna that a lot of people who are poor don’t have many options. They may live in the inner city where there is one overpriced grocery store within walking distance. Have any of you ever seen the prices in some of those city markets? They’re crazy! And not everyone has the luxery of a car to drive them to a few different stores to get them the best deals at each place. Also, there are many single moms who have to shop with all of their kids in tow on their day off from work which we know is not easy. So while I am middle class and have a car and a husband and four grocery stores within a mile of my house, I know not everyone has these options so who am I to judge?

  • Finance Girl says:

    I read that article and thought the same thing! We fed our family of three on $75/week before I even started using coupons and reading your blog! Go figure!

  • Em says:

    I have to echo what Brenda said. I can’t vouch for higher prices/fewer options in rural areas, but I can say that I have lived in DC and Chicago and the prices in cities are significantly higher than in the suburbs. And there are fewer stores from which to comparison shop, too, and from which to get the loss leaders – especially if you don’t have a car and take public transportation.

    I now live in northern VA, which is a failry expensive area as well, even though I’m in a suburb, and while I do keep my budget for my family of four around $85-100 per week, we don’t buy a lot of extras at all and the refrigerator is pretty empty come grocery day. We certainly are not eating steak or expensive cuts of meat or mcuh in the way of pre-packaged foods – it’s rare that it happens at all. Our fruit and meat prices especially are very expensive compared with what some of my friends and relatives pay in other areas of the country.

    That being said, I do appreciate everything I’ve been reading here on MSM – it has helped a great deal in cutting back on costs!

  • Kara S says:

    I agree with Anna and Michele – Location makes a huge difference in grocery budgeting. For those of us in rural areas, we don’t have the option of ‘store-hopping’ for the best deals. For those in more metropolitan areas, prices are on the rise. When my mom came to visit a few weeks ago, our grocery prices were often $1-$2+ less than their average price near Philly. As far as food stamps, they’re a huge blessing to low income people who struggle in so many ways to make ends meet. And again with the differences in grocery prices across the country, $117 may not go far in some areas, and not every store accepts food stamps.

  • FoxFire says:

    As far as spending $100 a week on food and household items:

    I spend far more than that! I use coupons, my husband hunts for the majority of our meat (that we process outselves), I shop sales and CVS, have a huge freezer to stock up with, and still go over $100 a week. And there are three of us.

    We live in a pretty populated state with a Kroger, CVS, Walmart, Meijer, Aldi and Walgreens within 4 miles of my home.

    My family deals with food allergies. A good price for 12 oz of pasta is $2.50! (regularly $3.74) $5 for a loaf of bread. $2 for a QUART of milk (almond). $2.25 for a 12 oz box of crackers.

    And we aren’t skimpy eaters. DH ate nearly 4 pounds worth of steak at a resturaunt once. And that is a SLIGHTLY larger than typical meal. (and no, we aren’t obese or anything, lol!)

    Not everything is as it appears. Although the vast majority of consumers could cut their food bill in half and still eat well, there are some of us who can’t. I think it is easy to see things in numbers and forget special food needs.

    Also, some people buy organic, wich in my opion is NOT a waste of money, but paying a fair price for a better product.

    Just some “food” for thought!
    Have a good day

  • Yes, location does make a difference and yes, food allergies do play into things; however, the article proved one thing very clearly to me: we live in a very affluent society.

    Some cultures live on beans and rice and vegetables–on good days. While I’m grateful we have many options at the grocery store, I think we could all learn a lot about living on less from those who have much less than we do.

    I mean, if forced to, couldn’t we all live on beans and rice and vegetables for awhile? Sure, it wouldn’t be our first choice, but we could survive.

    And you don’t need lots of different stores or a large metro area to buy cabbage, beans, and rice inexpensively. 🙂 I think it all depends upon how creative you are willing to be and how willing you are to live like no one else.

    During our lean law school years, we ate very little meat–maybe like once or twice a week. It wasn’t because we didn’t like meat, we couldn’t afford it. Instead of going on food stamps (we don’t believe it’s the government’s Constitutional or Biblical role to feed and clothe its citizens–but that’s a post for another time and another place!), we learned to make do with what we had, be creative, and be thankful realizing that we had a lot more than many others do.

    There are many other “luxuries” we’ve gone without–some we went without for a few years.

    Back when we were first married and living in a small town (and this was pre-CVS!), some weeks we only had $17 or $20 to spend at the store for the two of us. I had to make it work and I quickly learned that when there’s a will, there’s a way.

    I think that our society has gotten so far away from knowing what true need is, that we think giving up having the latest iPod or iPhone or model of car is a sacrifice. Most of us don’t even begin to know what “sacrifice” is.

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