Monday, February 27, 2012

The cash bandwagon

We operated an all cash budget this past summer for groceries and household expenses.  At the time, we had a well stocked pantry, freezer & personal care items closet.  We had several meals stocked up in our freezer, we weren't in need of disposable diapers, wipes or formula.  So, we challenged ourselves to $50 a week for all grocery/household items.  We were rather successful.

We fell off the cash bandwagon for a few months and while we still watched our spending, we didn't feel quite as disciplined as we had in the past.  If we ran out of cash at check-out, we'd swipe our debit card and be on our merry way.  For the month of February, we jumped back on the cash bandwagon.  Armed with a $280 budget for the month (cash only) we set out to purchase all grocery/household items we would need and be able to use couponing as a means to bless others.  The month for us is over, and I'm happy to report we only went over budget by $40.  Yes, we did swipe that debit card the last few days---but $280 was ambitious for us from the start.

Some things to mention:
-We did not have a well-stocked freezer (of extra meat, chicken, etc) and we had NO extra meals in our freezer
-We needed to buy disposable diapers/wipes as we had ran out of our stockpile from the summer
-We are purchasing formula now for our little guy
-We make many of our own cleaning supplies & have started to explore making some of our personal care items that we cannot get free or very cheap with sales/coupons
-When you see many (say the photo with 19 packs of razors)--it's safe to assume the items were free after coupons and many of these items are going to be donated.
-Wal-Mart is not our preferred place to shop, but since we can price match there and save ourselves trips running around town, we exercised that option a lot this month
***I should mention as well that we do cloth diaper, so our diapering costs are significantly less except for the rare times we do have to buy disposables. We make all of our own baby food. Our children are also on WIC and as such receive a small amount of milk, cheese, cereal, formula, baby food & fruit.  Those items provided through WIC are not pictured.***

Going forward...

Starting in March we are taking our budget to $300 a month.  I still think it's a challenging amount for us.  We are seeking to transition our family away from processed foods---a gradual (and more expensive) transition.  I will count the cost of extra coupons this month towards our budget (I spent about $8 for the month of February on extra coupons that provided us with items for ourselves and to donate to others).  I will continue to research how to "DIY" many of the items we make in order to cross them off our shopping lists.  We will hopefully begin to decrease the $300/month grocery/household budget as we become more and more disciplined.  But, we feel for our family at the present time, $300 is a good target to aim for.

I tried taking photos of each trip to document where our money was going, but I only managed to get a few and here arethe few that I did capture!  we ate much more than what is pictured as we had a well-stocked pantry & freezer---and since I didn't capture every trip, just imagine that most of these photos are "filler items" and we had many other ingredients already.  Also, if I earned a money reward towards my next purchase, that is noted.  The amount listed (ex, the toothpaste at .48 is what I actually paid out of pocket that day)

#1 CVS- .48 (earned $4)

#2- Dillons--$24.43, Wal-Mart (3 lotions and gum)=.42

#3-CVS (6 deodorant, 3 air freshners)=$5.38 (earned $10 towards next purchase)
     Target=free cat food, (.52 tax)---picked up for a friend
     Price Chopper/Hy-Vee=$39

#4- Hen House--(8 deodorant)=$1.64, Wal-Mart (razors, milk)=$6.76


#8-CVS (all shampoo)=$3.35 (earned $4 to use next time),
Hen House (deodorants & Yo Crunch)=.94, Hy-Vee=$21.65

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