Friday, April 3, 2009

Why I Became a Bargain Hunter

Why have I become a bargain hunter? Is it for the thrill of the hunt? Not usually. Is it for the excitement of bringing home bags of stuff for very little money? Sometimes. Is it for the fun of clipping coupons and shopping at multiple stores? Um, no. Is it so our family can survive and inch toward our goals? Absolutely!

When we made plans for me to stay at home fulltime when I was expecting our firstborn we were hit with the reality that things were going to be pretty tight financially. In fact, very tight. For the first time in our marriage, we were taking a really close look at our finances and starting to think about being very intentional with our budget. Some of the areas which needed significant trimming were groceries and dining out. For the dining out category, there was a simple solution...stop eating out so much. The grocery category was not so easy since if you are not dining out, you are cooking at home and cooking at home is going to take ingredients.

So about 7 years ago the I started on the learning curve of bargain grocery shopping that continues to this day. We have needed to raise our grocery & household supplies budget a few times due to our growing family, but still keep it close to a regular $300 a month. To some this may seem high and to others this may seem rather low, but that is where we are for now. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it and if it would be better for our family just to add another $100 a month to shop at one store, once a week for every item we need that week. But right now that $100 a month means more to us in other categories. For this season couponing, shopping based on what is on sale, selective purchases at Costco and cooking largely from scratch help us keep to this budget. I know I could do better if I had to, but for now I try to find a good balance between spending time and money.

Keeping the grocery budget modest helps make it possible for me to be with my kids day in and day out and I wouldn't have it any other way.


mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I'm with you, Rachel.

And by the way, I'm impressed that you can eat for $300 month. I try to stay under $600. You can probably teach me a thing or two!!! I'd be a willing learner!

Amy Phelps said...

Ahh Rachel, you beat me to the punch. I've been rolling around in my head an email to you to tell me how you tackle this. I realize it's taken you years to perfect it, but I think many of your readers would LOVE to hear your method to this madness. So break it down for us please. How do you approach your grocery planning? Unpack it from your head and share with us. The only thing I've "learned" is to faithfully watch the sales each week, and plan your menus around the sales. I basically just look at Albertson's and King SOopers. (for me, Safeway is now too far away - unless it's a killer deal and I'll run by the one by church if I can) So, as if you were talking to a 6 year old, what steps do you take?? Thanks my friend. (so did you guys save your candy from todays egg hunt for a hunt at home - ha ha!!)