Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My First Foray into Frugality

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I used coupons at the grocery store!

Our weekly grocery bill has been hovering around $150 a visit for months. Not including diapers, formula, or toiletries. Or meat, which we buy from the butcher. It just seems a little much for two adults and a baby.

I have never been known for being frugal. I'm not exactly extravagent, either. Basically, I'm spontaneous. I don't usually have a plan, when shopping, so I just buy whatever strikes my fancy. We tend to purchase a lot of organic foods, which can be expensive. I have a lot of brand preferences. And my husband is a chef, so he has his own ideas about grocery shopping. He's a total food snob.

So I've decided to try to reduce my weekly grocery bill. And I started yesterday.

In the morning I planned out a few meals for the week. I also looked up the recipe for the croissant casserole (thanks Boomama!) I'm taking to tomorrows Bible study's annual brunch. Finally, I spent a few moments thinking about what I will serve at Nicknack's first birthday party, this Sunday.

Then I fished out the grocery store inserts from the recycling bin (my husband had already put them out because Tuesday is trash/recycling day). Penn was impressed that I'd gone out and gotten them myself. I usually call that kind of a task a "man job." Pretty much anything unpleasant, in my book, is a "man job." But I was that motivated.

I spread all the colorful circulars out on the living room floor and began the hunt for a pair of scissors. As I clipped coupons or circled specials, I created a shopping list. My husband looked on. Sceptically. I even had a $5 off coupon for Safeway and I noted that if I spent $30 on specially marked items, I would receive a $10 rebate.

I set out later in the day, Nicknack in tow.

It was kind of fun. Almost every single thing I bought was either on sale, matched one of my coupons, or was part of the rebate promotion. Except for baby yogurt and crescent rolls for the aforementioned recipe. I stocked up on Hebrew National hot dogs and black label center cut bacon and still only spent $123, not including the $10 rebate, for which I qualified. And I brought home a lot of good stuff.

I was so proud.

Until I woke up this morning. For some reason, the very first thing that popped into my head, before I was even fully awake, was "How come I don't remember unloading a grocery bag with the crescent rolls?" As I emerged from my sleep fog, I tried to remember putting those four crescent roll containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Uh oh.

I rushed out to the car (brr, is that garage floor is cold first thing in the morning!) and opened the Jeep's tailgate. I didn't see a grocery bag. I lifted the grocery cart cover that protects Nicknack from the perils of germs. There it was. One lone little grocery bag. Sigh.

I brought it into the kitchen, where Penn was making Nicknack's breakfast. He helped me unload the bag. Four crescent roll containers. Two containers of ice cream. And one six-pack of four dollar baby yogurt. Total cost: about $20.

I was really mad at myself. $20 isn't a big deal, but it just felt like a defeat after my efforts to be frugal. And don't you just get tired of making mistakes sometimes? Especially since this is the kind of thing that Penn would never ever do. He's just not that kind of person. He never drives home to find he's left the garage door open for six hours. He never forgets about laundry, mid-cycle, and has to rewash clean clothes that have sat in the washer wet for so long they smell like mildew. He's never, in his life, run out of gas or locked himself out of the car or house. He always knows exactly where he left his keys. And his cell phone. Which is always charged. He is so sensible and responsible. Sometimes it just bugs me. Just once, I would like him to do something absent-minded so I could be as gracious about it as he always is. He just shrugged off the spoiled yogurt and puddle of ice cream with an "Oh well, don't worry about it, honey. It's only money and I bet you'll never make this mistake again." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd left grocery store bags in the car overnight once before (only with the tailgate still open, on that occasion). I'd had the foresight to bring in all the perishables first, so it was only bread and soda. But he's right, I will be more careful in future.

Today I'm headed to Albertson's to replace the items that were ruined. I also plan to pick up some soda, because I noticed in the circulars that came in yesterday's mail that both Albertson's and QFC have 5 for $12 deals on Coke fridge packs. A girl can never have enough diet cherry Coke. And I have a couple of Albertson's coupons in my little coupon organizer.

See? I haven't given up the fight! Yesterday's defeat will not stop me from defending my family from grocery store gouging! I may have lost the battle...! Yada yada. You get the idea. Really, it's just kind of fun to find good deals and watch my tally decrease as the clerk scans the coupons. Kind of like free money. :)


Robin said...

You did a great thing! And to think it was only your first time at couponing! We all make mistakes from time to time so don't beat yourself up!
Good job!

JennaG said...

Don't worry about it--you worked hard and made a wonderful effort to save money. I think that is great. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Alana said...

I've done that (left the lone grocery bag full of perishables in the car to spoil) before. I'm not sure how many times, but more than once or twice. A couple weeks ago, I actually brought one in and left it on the counter (right next to the refrigerator) to spoil! Don't feel bad!

Anonymous said...

so glad to find your post via babybangs...i had to read posts about books....saw you were a chambers fan and had to visit your spot where i find a girl who reads exactly like i takes me forever to get anything read...i really "feel your frustration" with that one...anyway i read and read and read....i need a chambers blog just to share insights from his devotions...i know i can go on for years with that book alone...For me and my VERY NEW UNDERSTANDING...i am yet a is sometimes very difficult but always so rewarding!

Michelle said...

I use coupons all the time :) You can also find coupons online that you can print out and use too!

kittyhox said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you're reading this, thanks for stopping by and come again! I can't click over and say hello like I usually do when people comment.

If you start a blog, let me know!


JennaG said...

I wanted to let you know that I have tagged you for a meme--if you are interested.

Jennifer said...

It *is* a lot of fun to start seeing those totals come down...congratulations!

I can so relate to leaving the groceries in the car...not only have I done *that*...but one year I spent a week planning all the meals we were going to have from leftovers of our Thanksgiving turkey...and then left it sitting out on the table all night! :-( So I know that sinking feeling well. And DH *doesn't do that kind of thing* either. I totally get the *if he would just once do something embarrassing* thoughts!! (Even though he's always really sweet about it, too...:))

The Small Scribbler said...

I was thinking of this post today. I came home from the grocery store. Unloaded all the groceries and then left the freezer door open for an hour! You're not alone sister!


toni said...

That would be frustrating. I've done it. We also left fruit at the grocery store, but didn't realize it until the next day. Our receipt was gone (garbage collectors) and they didn't have an employee turn our bag in so they said, "Sorry." Great.

Btw, I encourage you to plan just 5 weekly meals with ingredients. AND to stick to the shopping list you write out. We spend an average of $90-$100/week for groceries for a family of 6 (and really only 5 because the baby is not included). This includes meats and non-edibles. It's the planning and sticking to the list that keeps the total down.

I don't use coupons either, but only because I'm too lazy.

Jill said...

Good job cutting the grocery bill. I too am a 'spontaneous' shopper. I found that meal planning and sticking to the list is my greatest help.

Our full size freezer has been left open several times from kiddos looking for popsicles. So even if you don't do it, your kids will.

Jenn said...

Found you at Mercy Days. I too have been spontaneous at shopping! But it helps when I go with a list. I need to try coupons sometime too.