Budgeting & Coupon Help

Updated on June 03, 2010
A.B. asks from Anoka, MN
10 answers

my husband and i own a townhome that is now in foreclosure due to lack of work at his job. i am a stay at home mom and would prefer to continue this since any job i could get would be just to pay for daycare. we sat down today and figured out a budget and omg we can't afford anything. we are looking to rent another townhome, but it's so expensive. we are now thinking we may have to go back to an apartment :( i'm just wondering how some of you mom's do it. we are a family of four. i figured we spend about $500 a month in groceries, $250 a month on stuff from walmart, and high speed internet is $60. i feel like these are the only bills we can be flexible with, although i'd also like to get rid of my money eating suv. i cut coupons, but only for the things we actually buy. i don't end up using coupons as much as i would like. and i don't feel like i get enough of them from the sunday paper. i'm just wondering what some of you moms spend a month on things like that and how i can spend less on these things. as far as groceries, i shop at aldi and then the local grocery store to get the things aldi doesn't have (like fresh produce).

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answers from Killeen on

You are spending over $180 a week on groceries and stuff from walmart-I am sure there are many corners to cut there. The best advice for keeping to a budget is to take out the money at the beginning of the month and see how long it lasts. You would be surprised what you realize you don't really need when you can actually see the cash leaving your hands.

I also have trouble with the coupons. They don't always have what I need. I buy the cheapest things often and the more expensive things less often. We always have bananas, apples and carrots, but we only have strawberries, grapes and berries as a special treat. Right now we are eating a lot of watermelon.

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answers from Atlanta on

You probably already do this, but use store brands for everything! True, there are a few things I've found that I like the name brands for more, but nothing -not one thing -has been a total disaster! Diapers particularly are HALF PRICE compared to national brands and so is formula if you're using any of that. I've started at least trying the store brand for everything -I used to always use Tampax Super and have found that CVS, Kroger and Target brand tampons are exactly the same. Canned veggies and frozen veggies and fruits are the same, body washes, etc. I've found I actually prefer the thinner store brand toilet paper to the ultra thick Charmin -and I use store brand paper towels too.

Make sure you have a "store card" for any grocery stores you visit or drug stores. You will usually get coupons from them to use at those stores. Check out any large area farmer's markets too -often they have much better buys on produce and meats. Costco will cost you $50 initially for a membership, but for a family of four it may be worth it. They happen to carry a lot of stuff we eat a lot of, so it's a deal for us -especially for canned drinks, tp, paper towels, trash bags, cleaning products, detergent and meat. They have AMAZING deals on nice beef and pork.

If you're in Minnesota, perhaps you can cut out AC for the summer and open the windows and use some fans.

I don't know what your education or work experience is, but be objective -if you have experience or a degree in something that there you see jobs for out there -go for it. Dad can be a stay-at-home dad for a little while -at least until the market picks up!

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answers from Roanoke on

I love coupons and might be obsessed with them. This requires a good amount of time but, it is SO worth it. I always clip coupons for things I need. My mom saves her Sunday paper for me so I get duplicates(some times triplets from my grandfather's paper). I have found out that you can use 2-3 coupons per item(I do this at Kroger and Martins). For example: I had 3 $5 off coupons for a windex window cleaning system I had been wanting to try. It retailed for $15.99 which I wouldn't pay,,,however I used all 3 coupons and got it for 99 cents! On my shopping trip last week I spent $103.22 and saved $96.98 with coupons, internet coupons(Shortcuts.com loads coupon on your store card) and my Kroger shoppers card. I sit down before I go to the store with my list, coupons and store ad. I seperate the coupons into sections, produce, frozen,dairy,meat, etc. I often buy things that are marked down, salad, produce etc. and cook it/use it the same day I buy it. If something isn't on sale I don't buy it. I wait until the next week. I usually buy my cleaning/beauty products at the dollar store which is generally cheaper than the grocery store. I never go to the grocery store hungry or I spend too much! I try to plan meals ahead of time too. I try store brands and if they aren't good, don't work then I don't buy them again but, it never hurts to try. Other money saving tips- I try to use my dish towels and save the paper towels, I have been using my clothes line more than my dryer. Opening windows and only using ac on real hot days, turning off as many lights, using power strips,etc. Hang in there and good luck! I hope you guys are able to turn things around soon.



answers from Jacksonville on

Get rid of one car or drive the one that uses less gas. Make a menu for dinner each night and buy only those things on the list. Some things end up repeating themselves. Buy only the essentials (flour, sugar, egg, oil, milk, rice, cheese, bread, pasta, potato) and make a meal out of those. Ex: Just flour, salt and water can make tons of things (dumplings, pancakes, flat breads)Limit packaged foods, buy in bulk things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, diapers, etc) buy produce outside of the grocery store, buy your meat at a meat shop, limit convenience items, ex: buy the whole chicken instead of the pieces already cut, buy a whole watermelon instead of pieces packaged, etc. You pay for the convenience,and since you stay at home, you should have time to prepare dishes, etc. Buy groceries every 2 weeks and use everything all at once before going back to the store, be creative. You will be surprised what you can whip up when you "think" you have nothing. Cut coupons for only things you use. Shop during the weekdays when most stores restock and get rid of old items. Shop during sales and stock up when it's the holidays on canned items, pasta - things that don't spoil. Most bills cut off around the 20th, change when yours is due based on when you get paid or budget around that time. Hope that helps.



answers from Jacksonville on

CAn you get rid of the paper? I was cutting coupons but wasn't saving the money the paper cost.
Also do you have cable and do you need it? We didn't have cable until we moved here four years ago. My son was 17 before we got it in the house. I am ready to pull the plug.
Cut all magazine subscriptions for a year or so.
Buy generic.
Do you have little ones? Maybe you qualify for WIC? The children have to be under 5 and show a need.
Do you have a house phone and a cell phone and do you need both?
I had to work in VA for a while. So I went to the mall, worked at Macy's only weekends and nights when my husband was home.
That helped a lot.
I can't down size either. I like my van.



answers from New York on

Have you looked into Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University? Or any of Dave Ramsey's books? He has a ton of great information to help people budget and get out of debt.

My only other advice is to completely cut back on all of your expenses. Shop at local farmers markets for fresh produce. Buy generic. Look for sales and stock up on supplies when they are cheap. Skip eating at restaurants. Find fun family activities that are free. Less is always more.

Good luck to you.



answers from Austin on

With the coupons: There are websites that will help you to match up your coupons with current sales. That is the only way to really save money using them. Otherwise the generic is cheaper. But, I enjoy reading the Sunday paper so I figure if I use at least two dollars worth of coupons on things that we NEED, then I'm doing ok. Also, you can print out coupons from online sources.
In general: Do you meal plan? Just jotting down the food that you will eat for EACH meal and being flexible with what you eat will save you a lot. We try to do a soup and sandwich night at least two times and a no meat night once a week. Buy only the meat that is on sale. I don't pay more than a dollar a pound for any meat. Buy cheese in bulk. I also find that if I don't buy 2 gallons of milk, I end up going back to the store and end up spending money of "stuff". Keep enough raw materials around the house to make your own bread, rolls, tortillas in a pinch.
Look into Freecycle for used household items. Go to yard sales to buy your "summer wardrobe". I spent a grand total of 10 dollars for 4 pairs of pants and a new bag.



answers from College Station on

Have you tried looking around for other rental homes? Also I use coupons as much as possible and agree with you (mom of 2) working is basicly for daycare. Have you tried finding cheaper insurance and maybe a cheaper car? We basicly live of my husbands income bc I tried to get a job but it was pointless with working and having no one to watch the kids :( Also have you tried finding a cheaper internet and phone company? We pay $60 for high speed internet and unlimited long distance through ATT! Also mty mom found just a internet place for like 20 a month and its fast! Good luck...



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm a huge thrift store shopper, one of my favorites is Uniquie thrift store.



answers from Washington DC on

To organize coupons, I used to have a small mini folder that can fit in my purse. I organized them according to expiration dates so I know when to throw it out. However, with coupons, I found myself more tempted to get things I didn't need. There are not much coupons for fresh produce anyway.
I grew my own tomatoes (which are EXPENSIVE at the store) last year. Also grew some lettuce and spinach. All in pots.
I buy whole and bulk fruits and veggies and freeze the fruits and veggies we don't eat before they spoil. A lot of veggies can be made into sauces and soups for freezing.
If you can cancel a land line and just use cell phones, it'll help. Also, if you can live without cable or premium movie channels, that's something that can be cut out. We have a Netflix account and they have lots of movies you can watch online instead of going to the theater for movies. Also, with the cell phone plans, get the bare minimum with no email or texting if that is something you can live with.

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