Thursday, January 07, 2010

How Did I Get Here?? Part 2

Photo Credit:  My Husband while in Colorado

Part One is Here....

So we went from two incomes to one and I was excited to be pregnant with our third child..... 

Our eating out habits had to change. My grocery shopping habits had to change too. I started looking through the grocery ads delivered to my drive-way that previously never made it out of the bag. I struggled with whether to grocery shop by the ad for just what we needed to get through the week or buying extra of the items on sale. For a few years, I would see what main dish ideas I could come up with based on the items on sale. I shopped just for the items we needed to make those meals. But I didn't know if the price I was paying really was the best price or just the item the store decided to put in the ad. Plus I had to do big complete shopping trips every week.

Two years ago a good friend of mine (also a stay at home mom in a single income family) forwarded me an email that she had received from a friend. It had links to a couple of money saving blogs. A Blog?? What's that? I have never heard of a blog then. I was curious and started reading them daily. I learned about and joined a website called The Grocery Game. I could log in and see a complete list of items on sale at the stores of my choice along with coupon match-ups. But what was even better for me was that those lists are color coded. One color for items that were a good price if I needed the item right then and a second color for items that were at their rockbottom best price ie stock up worthy and a third color for items that would be FREE. The Grocery Game service is free for the first 4 weeks. After that the membership price is based on how many store's lists you want to see. I was a member of the Grocery Game for about 6 months. I learned a lot about pricing, matching coupons with sales and that store's tend to run sales in 12 week cycles. I decided that I had learned enough do it on my own (and with the help of lots of blogs that I read.) I do know some people who have had memberships for years and wouldn't go without it.

Starting my stockpile was the next step. It started with Health & Beauty Items. At first my family laughed as the toothpastes, toothbrushes, bottles of shampoo, bars of soap and bottles of body wash piled up in a tub in our basement. I had no idea that there were so many deals to be had at CVS and Walgreen's. CVS has an Extra Care Program that pays you in Extra Care Bucks (ECB's) on different items weekly. The ECB's are $$ off coupons on your next purchase. Walgreen's offer Register Rewards, $$ off coupons on your next purchase too. Both paired with coupons means FREE and very inexpensive items .... and sometimes means money makers too! I'll go into more detail about CVS and Walgreen's in a future post.

From there I started adding groceries to my stockpile. In March of 2008, my husband started a new job and much to our surprise he found out at the job interview that his office would be at home. Quickly he framed out an office in our unfinished basement and added a wall to create a laundry room too. Shelves were built in the laundry room to make room for the stockpile that had my kitchen cabinets filled to the brim.

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