Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where is the money going?

I am feeling a wee bit stressed lately. Besides the work they are piling on me in my last month at my job I am stressing a bit about the financials of leaving my job. Am I crazy to leave my job when we are heading into a recession? My 401k has been steadily bleeding out, savings accounts are paying less and less interest, and the price of goods and gas is out the roof.

I went to the grocery store Sunday to stock up on the basics (bread, milk, meat, produce, baby food, etc) and I can't believe how much everything is going up. I used $34.30 in coupons and still came out at $107.00 on what should have been about $50.00 worth of groceries. My husband asked where the rest of my bags were when I got home. Not to mention the fact that the bagger didn't give me my bag of produce so I had to make another trip to the grocery store using my $3.20 cent a gallon gas to get there. This is the 4th time in the last 2 years I can think of that they have done this.

I know staying home is the right decision but it is just so scary to think that they are predicting things to get worse before they get better. Don't even talk to me about insurance premiums and co-pays. My husband hasn't had a raise in 2 years so he actually makes less than he did two years ago if you count for inflation and the value of the dollar. But we have been smart and put down 20% on our house, paid cash for everything we buy and put money back in savings. So I know we aren't in the same perilous position as some families. Its still scary though. Any tips on couponing, saving money, etc would be greatly appreciated. I will have time to look into the CVS and Walgreens deals once I am not working.


Ashley said...

hey i have ideas!

We put our savings into an account that gains interest. Free money! Check out an ING Direct account if you don't already do this. I love ING because there in no minimum you have to have, it has really high interest, and unlike a CD you can take out money any time if you need it with out a penalty charge.

Also if you buy in bulk, it may cost more up front, but it'll save you money in the long run.

we put almost everything we buy (food and clothes, etc.) on our united credit card there is a huge bill at the end of the month, but we pay it off in full every month so we never pay interest. we've gotten about 4 free vacations from it because when you put everything you buy on it the points add up fast. ONLY DO THIS IF YOU KNOW YOU CAN PAY IT OFF TOTALLY EVERY MONTH. If you're worried you won't pay it off every month American Express has a great "green card" you still earn points, but it is not a credit card, you MUST pay it off each month or you get a buttload of charges.

Turn your heat down 2' for heat or 2' for the a/c. You'll save money on your electric without even knowing it.

Make your own coffee and limit the number of times you can go out to eat in one month. those starbucks trips add up fast.

One more thing you could do is to plan your errands around other errands. You'll save money on gas if you do all of your stops in one trip rather than going out everyday.

ok. :) those are all of my ideas.. good luck with it all!

jpandtheboys said...

Cut your dryer sheets in half, use half the amount of laundry detergent (still keeps your clothes clean.), save your change don't spend it and then once a month throw it into your savings account. Totally agree about buying in bulk, especially diapers and formula. It's worth the membership fee. When I cook meals I use 1/2lb of hamburger rather then a whole lb. Eat vegetarian once a week. Meat is expensive, so you can save some money that way. Also eating breakfast meals for dinner, breakfast is cheap. Hmmmmm.... I am going to plant a garden this summer, and can & freeze some of what I grow. I don't have a green thumb at all so we will see how successful it is but I am thinking of everything I can to save money. So I guess that is it for now. Look up money saving ideas on google, or type in penny pinching and I am sure you will get many more ideas. It is hard but it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine that it is financially intimidating to go from having two salaries coming into your family to having one.

As you well know, you will be one large bill less ever month -- Day care! (Add to that the benefit of staying home with Bear...)

And like you said -- when you're home you will have time to scour the sales ads in Sunday's paper. I used to get a TON of stuff from CVS using coupons and their Extrabucks program. (Two large things of Palmolive dish soap for $0.49 being one of my favorite!) it felt strange sometimes to be getting groceries and cleaning supplies at CVS but I saved tons of money! And a tip there -- they will accept expired coupons (their own and manufacturers).

I also agree with Ashley about buying in bulk. A trip to BJs or Costco will set you back a big chunk but the savings really add up. I cook tons of chicken breasts (they're easy and fast). At the grocery store, they can run up to $4.99/lb. At BJs, I can buy the huge package of them for $2.19/lb. They come already broken down into packages of two so I can easily thaw what I'll need. And if you're not already both BJs and Costco make a good generic brand diaper (we all know how much money diapers suck out of our wallet!). For a case of them they run $10+ cheaper than Huggies or Pampers.

You will get creative about spending and saving...for me it became a game to see how much I could save.

Sorry you're feeling stressed about it!!! Hang in there!

Kristine said...

Oh - man, this is gonna be a long comment. I am a frugal person. But I also value my time.

1. Coupons are only good for things you buy anyway. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it.

2. I second the buy in bulk. Heck we bought half a cow! At $2.09/lb hanging weight - it comes to roughly $2.97/lb (occasionally you can find better deals on beef than this - but this includes all the best cuts as well as the cheap ones)- a 400 lb side in a $120 freezer will feed your family beef 3-4 times a week for a year. And the good news? Now you have a freezer and can take advantage of other meat sales, and next year you'll only buy the cow, not the freezer.

3. Sam's club. I buy some things at Sam's club, but you have to be careful, they are not always cheaper. Especially if you're not concerned about a specific brand of the item.

4. Have a budget and stick to it. Our budget is in excel and includes all our expenses from now until 3 years from now - outlined as I pay them. I over estimate bills, and under estimate our income. That way when incidentals show up, it doesn't kill us.

5. Have an allowance. This is money you use for frivilous - out to eat, starbucks etc. And this is key - you have to set it up so that it's built into your budget. i.e. if you give your husband and yourself each $50/week that you are unaccountable to anyone for. But remember when you were a kid and you $5 a week or something and when youre $5 was gone, you had to just wait until you got your next $5 if you wanted something? Yeah, that's how it goes now. Establish the difference between needs and wants. Needs are house expense - wants are allowance expenses.

6. Research the things you can do in your area for free. A day out doing something free will save you on so many levels.

7. Use towels more than once. Use cloth napkins and cloth dish towels instead of paper whenever possible. These are environmentally friendly AND cost saving. The napkins and towels do not take up that much more room in the wash with another load, so no energy is actually even spent on cleaning them.

That's all I've got for now.

Cee said...

I'm still a student and I only work part time so by the end of the month i use my paycheck to pay off the things I already bought! It's so scary to watch bank accounts grow smaller.

Law Student Hot Mama said...

I do that "round up" thing with Bank of America . . . where if your purchase cost $84.40 they take the other .60 and put it in a savings account. It isn't much, but it adds up!

Also, I'm impressed you can shop and only spend $107. I'd be THRILLED if I could spend that. Where I live, stuff is so expensive that when I used to shop for my little family of 3 it would cost about $150 a week . . . even if I shopped at the commissary!

Rebecca said...

One way to have fun is winning free things on blogs.

Get a part time job at home.
Work 2 nights a week when your husband is home so you do not have to pay for daycare.
Trust me you will come out ahead.