Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Living on a Budget by Syndi Powell




About two and a half years ago, I told my husband we needed to make some changes. We had been laid off the year before and found jobs that paid half of what we used to make. Despite the change in income, we were still spending as if we made the bigger paycheck. We were being crushed under a heavy load of debt, and I didn't know what to do to get out from under it.

Jim was a man with a mission. When I showed him our budget and how our grocery bills were high and among the easiest to reduce, he sprang into action. He googled saving money on groceries and found a couple of websites and blogs that taught how to coupon and cut the grocery bill in half. He watched videos, read articles and created a plan.

While we are not extreme couponers like you see on television, we do call ourselves coupon queens. My husband spends about fifteen hours on the internet looking for printable coupons and reading several blogs that lists available deals. We spend about three hours on Saturday afternoons going through our coupon binder and the sale ads to make our lists for shopping on Sundays. In all, we visit about four or five stores to find the best deals.

We no longer pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, shampoo, conditioner or candy bars. With coupons and sales, we cut our grocery budget by 57% the first year (I tracked our efforts to see if it was worth our time... It was!). We've built up a stockpile and give away extras to families and friends who need it.


That's what we've found to help save us money, but I'd love to hear what you all have done to save money. Share your best moneysaving tip here, and I'll enter your name to win a copy of my new book "The Reluctant Bachelor".

19 comments:

  1. I so admire this, but I admit I don't do much of it. One thing I do is try to stay out of the store between grocery-shopping trips, because impulse buying is definitely my enemy.

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    1. Liz, that's a great point. I do submit to impulse buying, but that's hard to do when you're not in the store! LOL

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  2. I'm impressed Syndi. I buy the Sunday paper, but then give it to my sister who loves to clip coupons. I should, but I'm such a brand specific buyer. I've wondered if it really works and apparently if you're serious it does. My daughter with the twins are due in today and we school shop for the girls. I've been watching for sales. And there's a place called retailmenot.com online where you can get coupons for dollars off items at name retail stores where teens like to shop. We're going to do that. I get coupons from Barnes and Noble for books and I use those.

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    1. If you have the time to spend, coupons can really save you money. And there's so many places online that you can find coupons for items that you use and places you visit.

      Have fun with your daughter and granddaughters!

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  3. Syndi, you've inspired me! I'm going to follow your example since I won't be teaching in September- a paycheck gone from our budget! One writer money saving tip is if you use media mail to send your book prizes, it's cheaper and if you use library mailing rate when mailing books to librarians, it is cheaper still!

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    1. Oooo, those are good tips. I have to remember that when I start sending out books. Thanks, Karen!

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  4. Syndi - good for you and your husband! After almost eight years of not having enough money to cover expenses, our lives are so pared down to absolute essentials that there are few places to cut. We do have a store in town called Deals Only (Astoria has about 12,000 population) that buys lots from stores gone out of business or turning over inventory. The deals are usually phenomenal. Like $5 a pound for Starbuck's Coffee. Once a week on Geezer Day (Thursday our bakery has Senior Day with coffee and a donut for $1) we take a cab to town ($5 including tip) and get what we can. They don't have meat, except for brots, hot dogs, and bacon, but they have milk, eggs, cheese, lots of good stuff. Also once a week we go to McDonald's because across the street is Columbia Fruit and Produce where we get fruits and veggies. Works well for us and gets us out!

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    1. It's amazing the different places you can find good deals. Enjoy Geezer Day tomorrow!

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  5. Hi Syndi! I think you lost me at 'money saving tip' lol. I wish I had some, but I really don't. As much as we complain about the money we 'waste', we are all about convenience. I HATE shopping, so if I can go to one place for everything-I will...But maybe we should start getting smarter about how we spend:) Great post! I'm always fascinated by those extreme couponing shows-it's really a cool idea:)

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    1. Jennifer, I'm all about convenience too but when our salaries got cut, we had to make the changes. This works for us, but it doesn't work for everyone.

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  6. Oh, I'm in awe. I coupon here and there, but never take the time to really go for it. Luckily, as a Fry's member, they track my purchases and every three months I get in store coupons, which I love.

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    1. I love store coupons too, Pamela! Our Kroger here does that about every eight to twelve weeks. And sometimes, we get free items :) This last time, it was free salad dressing which we go through a lot of here!

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  7. I like to combine Manufacturer, Store coupons, Cartwheel App, 5% Debit card discount and The sales ad at Target. (Plus my discount)

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  8. Tori, what's the Cartwheel app? I see you posting about it on Target.com, but I'm not sure what it is.

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    1. You get it on your smartphone (Itunes store or play store). You link it to your facebook. Then you have certain number of offer spots. You fill these spots with offers. You can search by item (great for in the store so you are not tempted to buy something you aren't already), department, or collection. You earn more spots by completing tasks or hitting mile stones. For example one is the friend badge: You go to a friend's cartwheel and add an offer from there. You start with 10 spots. I am up to 19.

      Most offers are 5-10% off items in the store. Once in a while I see 20% on clothing. You can change the offers as much as you want. You can buy multiples (I think its 4, you would have to look at the fine print) You can re use the offers as well on a future shopping trip. Most are valid for a few weeks. My favorite collection is the Ad Double Dip. It's not always in there and sometimes takes a few days for it to show up. But it is all the Cartwheel deals that also are in the ad that week.

      If you don't have a smartphone you can search Cartwheel on the Target website. You then will select your offers and have to print them out for the store. You won't be able to change them until you are home again, though. Remember, Target has free Wifi, so you could do this on a tablet too.

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    2. Thanks, Tori. I'll check it out!

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  9. Muriel, you won a copy of my book. You can email your address to me at syndipowell at yahoo.com

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  10. Syndi, I'm so inspired by you! I used to keep all my coupons so organized. Now they're stuffed in an envelope in my purse. I have no idea how much I've saved, but I do clip and use them. I did once read that you have to watch out about buying things you normally wouldn't, just bc there's a coupon available.

    The one thing I do save a lot on is gas. Our grocery store has a deal with a gas station chain where you earn points for what you spend and it translates to gas discounts automatically (linked to our grocer's club card). I've gotten over a dollar off per gallon of gas!

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    1. Rula, we have the gas points here too. It's amazing how fast they add up especially since my family and I spend enough on food!

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