Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grocery expenses - 1st Quarter

I decided to start tracking my expenditures this year...something I have never done before. I will break this down with the amounts that I actually spent on groceries (food, health/beauty, pet) per month:

January = $309.34
February = $170.11
March = $74.15
Total = $553.60

That figures out to an average of $46.13 per week, which is not bad for a family of two (plus one cat). A few things to consider, however...I am spending next to nothing on health/beauty products as I'm relying on my stockpile for those. I'm also getting my hamburger for free right now because my parents have some cattle and recently gifted us with a freezer full of hamburger. On the other hand, I'm still stockpiling the great deals that I find on groceries and health/beauty items with that $46.13 per week. So while I would love to cut my grocery expenses even more, I'm not sure if that is really realistic if I continue to stockpile. I know it can be done. I see a lot of you with families of four or more who do this all the time. I guess I just need to reevaluate everything and proceed from there. In the meantime, I'm curious to know how many of you consider health & beauty items to be grocery expenses. So feel free to comment on that as well as any tips you might have for cutting your grocery bill. I would love some input!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3M Filtrete Filter free after rebate!

Jill has the scoop on how you can score a free 3M Filtrete filter. I personally love Filtrete filters, so I will definitely be taking advantage of this rebate! Go check it out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Selling textbooks...

Valore Books is a great company to sell your textbooks to. I have done so on three separate occasions and each of those transactions was hassle free. They have earned my trust and so I feel comfortable recommending them to you. Sure there are a few other companies that may quote you a higher sell back price up front, but I read their reviews and they do not seem to be as reputable as Valore Books. The risk just wasn't worth it to me. I chose Valore and haven't regretted that decision yet. If you are considering selling your books, I would highly recommend that you check out Valore Books. On top of operating with integrity, they offer instant price quotes, free shipping to their warehouse, and more than 500,000 sellable titles.

Also, you can use the promotion code "Coupon5" and you'll get 5% off your order if you are making a purchase or they will give you an additional 5% if you are selling to them. I'm not sure when this offer expires, but how cool is that! Click here to check them out!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My efforts are paying off!

I got my City bill today (electricity, water, and trash are all wrapped up into this one bill). I've been trying to cut back on EVERYTHING in order to save money, so I was very happy to see that my electric is down $21.73 from last month and my water is down $4.71. That's a difference of $26.40. Add in the sales tax and the water surcharge, and the total savings on my City bill equals $27.03. I know that changing out many of my lightbulbs and replacing them with CFL bulbs can account for some of the savings, but not much since we replaced them at the tail end of that billing cycle. I think most of the savings on this bill can be attributed to the fact that I've been so conservative with the electricity. I should see an even bigger difference over the next few months since the CFL's will now be running full billing cycles and also due to the fact that I've decided to start air drying my laundry. I put a "Wanted" ad on Freecycle for a folding laundry rack and someone replied today with an offer. I will pick that up tomorrow. That will work for indoor drying and will have to suffice until I can get a clothesline put up outside. I'm betting I can save myself a small fortune just by cutting out most of my dryer usage. And you can bet that I'll be tucking that savings away in an interest bearing account. Furloughs are on the horizon, and I'm doing everything I can to prepare myself financially. If only I had started this 19 years ago...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The silver lining...

My place of employment is considering furloughs (mandatory leave w/out pay) to help with the budget crunch. They haven't made a formal decision, but we've been told that furloughs are very likely. We will be given 30 days notice and are being advised that we can file for unemployment due to the cut in hours. I don't know anything about unemployment, but I'm guessing you have to take a substantial cut in hours before you can file for unemployment. So I'm getting a little nervous.

I have been working diligently for over a year trying to build an emergency fund while paying down my debt. However, it's a slow process as I am the only source of income for my daughter and me and the pay is far from great. I've also been stockpiling any items that we use whenever I can find them at rock bottom prices. I feel like I have a great stockpile going, especially on toiletries. We definitely have enough toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, deodorant, and hair product to last us a year. We have a good amount of shaving cream and razors, as well. I try not to go overboard w/the food, because the last thing I want to do is have it spoil. I try to only buy what I know we will use within a reasonable amount of time (hopefully until the next sale, since I'm trying to avoid paying full price).

I'm constantly looking for ways to cut costs and am reluctant to spend anything if I don't have to. Last week, I didn't spend even $20 on groceries and I anticipate this week's bill will be even less. In addition to cutting costs, I'm hoping I can bring some extra cash in by selling things utilizing Craigslist.com and a few other "trade and sell" websites. I've put the word out that I'm available for odd jobs (painting, cleaning, etc...) and I'm hoping that will pay off, as well.

Although I'm worried, I know this is something that we will survive. And I'm extremely thankful that even with a cut in hours, there will be no change to my health benefits and that there is no risk (at this time) of losing my job altogether, like so many others already have.

All of this has really opened my eyes to the reality of just how financially irresponsible I've been. It's the wake up call that I needed and it has changed me for the better...permanently.