April 24, 2014 by The Perfectly Imperfect One
Recently, we have begun saving money in order to get out of debt and ahead in our lives. My dream is to be debt free and be able to travel more whenever I want. There have been a few things we have started in order to save money.
I began the journey into couponing and meal planning in late January. So far it has been a fun struggle. I know oxymoron, but hey I am saving money and it has been amazing. I figured, why should I pay full price for the stuff I am going to be buying anyway. I started out small with couponing and am still learning the ropes, but some fellow coworkers helped me begin and gave me so many great tips. I learned that websites put together store sales lists and match them with coupons. This is a wonderful asset because I just don’t have the time to spend hours and hours combing through ads and coupons in order to find the best sales.
I have gone through the idea of shopping at all the stores in one week. This is difficult but does save money if you plan your trip according to where you need to go anyway. One day I went to Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, Smiths, Harmon’s, Target, and Reams all in the same day. I spent a lot less money and saved a ton, but I was so worn out after that one day. I did begin a great stock pile of stuff to get us started. Stockpiling is the way couponers save the most money because you can wait for the item you are looking for to be on sale and match that with a great coupon. Now, I am no end of days stockpiler or an extreme couponer, but I have enough shampoo to last our family a few months and to wait until I can get it for nearly free before we need it. My plan, to never pay more than I have to for toothpaste and shampoo or conditioner and even deodorant.
The other thing I have begun to do is meal planning. I use to think “what could that really do in saving money” but it has been the best thing for us. When there is a plan in place for dinner there is less wonder, less extra spending, healthier, and even less arguments like “what do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” and that whole back and forth thing. I started out with pen and paper and one week at a time basing it on what we had already. Then I decided that was still difficult for us in this new electronic world. So, I pulled up an excel spreadsheet and wrote down every single thing we eat. Even things like top ramen or steaks. I wrote it all down. From mac and cheese and spaghetti to steak and potatoes and pot roast. Then I found a good website through my cell phone company (they have an app) called Cozi. I found out that on the cozi website there is a place to add all recipes and add them to a menu. We now have a meal plan online that we can alter at any given time. While we don’t stick to the meal plan 100% because sometimes you just don’t feel like a chicken dish, we do stick to something else on the menu that we already have. This has minimized our going to the store every day because if it is not in the pantry it is not on the menu. This has helped us save the most money so far for two reasons; First, How many times do you go to the store for one thing and only leave with that one thing? Almost never, right? Second, if we already know what we are having for dinner we don’t have to wonder about what to eat and end up getting fast food when we are just too hungry and tired to try to cook something. Buckoo savings!
Finally, the last thing I am going to tell you is about Dave Ramsey’s snowball lesson. I won’t go too much into it right now, other than telling you that we have tweaked it to our own finances and that it really works! Since starting this new way of living in February, we have paid off all our credit cards, and we are only a few months away from owning three vehicles with no payments. After that, we will begin to tackle our student loans and lastly our mortgage. We are still years away from being out of debt but we have a plan and while it is hard, it is working and we are seeing the benefits slowly but surely.
This is just the beginning of me writing about this new way of life for us, I hope to tell you more about couponing, meal planning, and even saving money and paying off debt. For now, I would like to thank my girls at work for helping me coupon, I would like to thank my supervisor for lending me her Dave Ramsey book, don’t worry boss I am almost done and will have it back to you soon :). I would like to thank cozi.com for the meal planning website, and I would like to send a shout out to a few of my favorite websites for couponing and matchups; wallyworldwoman.com (she shows the price matching, the sales, and even double couponing in Utah, cuckooforcoupons.com is another website who also shows more Utah coupons, krazycouponlady.com who is wonderful and shares so much with her followers about all the great deals, and another favorite is frugalgals.com. This is just a short list of websites I visit regularly and not nearly all of them. I like to find the websites that show me the deals in my area.
More to come later.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic, have you recently started couponing, meal planning, or using the snowball method for paying off debt? Do you have any tips or tricks to help out others?
I live in Utah, where do you live and what websites do you find the most helpful in your area? Thanks for sharing!