Frustrated with Finances

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Just a quick post.  I went to the grocery store today, and went over budget again!  I just can’t seem to get the grocery thing figured out.  I use coupons, buy generic where I can, try to shop sales, but I just can’t keep it under budget.  I even upped my budget for each week, and that didn’t help this time around.  

It seems as though the weeks that we don’t really have a long list for groceries, it is the week that we need a lot of household items.  For example, this week we needed wipes ($13.99-$0.50 coupon for a big box), paper towels ($5.49-$2.00 coupon-$0.50 sale item for six rolls), deodorant for me ($7.49-$3.00 coupon… I have to use the clinical strength stuff or else we are going to have a sweaty mess), tissues ($1.45 – $0.30 coupon x4 boxes.  I bought 4 boxes, because it printed out a $3.00 off my next grocery store purchase).  All of that right there is $25.57 without tax.  

Then on top of that, I bought some stuff for my classroom… technically not a necessity, but definitely something that the kids will enjoy next week.  Our 100th day of school is on Tuesday (if we have school on Tuesday, if not, then Wednesday).  For snack we are going to have 100 Day trail mix.  There are 10 of 10 different types of foods in a bag for them.  They are going to sort them, then we will graph which food is their favorite, then they get to enjoy their 100 things to eat.  I already had some of the items donated by parents, but I still needed a few more.  All of these items were generic.  Chocolate chips ($3.75 for 1 bag), pretzel sticks ($1.67 for 1 bag), mini marshmallows ($1.00 x 2 bags), Teddy Grahams ($3.65 for 1 box), Fruit Loop cereal ($1.99 a box).  That is a total of $13.06 without tax.  

Even if I wouldn’t have bought those two groups of items ($38.63), I would have been over budget.  I know that one thing that is killing us is the price of meat.  I spent $25.25 (without tax) on just meat for this week.  That is all beef.  I got 1 roast, 1 lb ground beef, and 2 lbs coarse ground beef for chili.  That isn’t even that much meat, but it is so expensive.

A few other expensive items include frozen meals and pizzas.  Hubs takes the frozen meals to work for lunch, and uses the pizzas occasionally for lunches when he is home with Miss C.  I had coupons for both, so I went ahead and got a few.  The frozen pizzas were $3.99 each (on sale, and an additional discount), and I had a buy 2, get 1 free coupon today.  I had a coupon for the frozen meals, too.

I really am just at a loss on what to do about our grocery budget.  I have saved my receipts from the last month, so I may start a spreadsheet of prices to see if I can figure out when we should stock up on certain items and when they are on sale.  Any other tips or advice would be welcome.  I know I should start cooking from scratch more, but it’s hard coming home from work and being in charge of something that daunting.  I also know people are going to recommend batch cooking on the weekends and freezing it.  I am on my own on the weekends, and it is very hard to cook with a toddler under foot.  I also have to find time to get the house clean, laundry done, and errands run.  Batch cooking on the weekends just does not seem doable at this point (maybe in the summer, though).  

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7 thoughts on “Frustrated with Finances

  1. I forget… what categories do you have in your budget again, Jessie? I have a misc. budget where the kleenex, etc… would have came from. Also, I don’t buy meat if it’s not on sale, so if chicken & pork is on sale, that goes on my list instead of beef. Also, I buy sale meat whether i’ll be using it that week or not and throw it in my freezer for future meals. As for buying stuff for your classroom, what about setting up a small “classroom” budget? Like $30.00/month or something? I don’t bulk or freezer cook…. but menu planning is what saves my butt. I start from whats in my freezer, check out sale items and go from there. As for frozen meals, those add up fast! Can you perhaps cook extra for dinner and hubby takes that for his lunch? That will save you $$ for sure!

    • I so rarely buy anything for my classroom anymore, that $30 a month would be too much. We get about $100 at the beginning of the year from our PTO, and that would cover this… I usually just stick it in our checking account when we getting, and it gets absorbed. I need to stick it in an envelope and use it as needed instead.
      Household items just come out of our groceries. Wipes and diapers come out of our baby envelope, so I will just subtract that amount when the cash comes due for it. I just don’t know if we would be able to squeeze out much to create a new budget category and still be able to put some into savings. I will just pull from the extra $150 I put into our savings to cover this week… then next week, hopefully I can keep it under budget.

  2. Do you ever shop at Alid’s? I buy my boxed, canned and some frozen food at Aldi’s. I also buy their milk, lunchmeat, sliced cheese for sandwiches and string cheese. I went in two weeks ago and spent $175 on 2 weeks worth of food and we still have some left over. I also make a menu for the next two weeks to use.

    • I do menu plan. I try to just stay at one store, as I have to bring C with me on my errands. Aldi’s is a ways away for me, but I may have to start checking it out just to save some money.

  3. One area you could try cutting down is paper goods. For the paper towels, you could take some old ratty t-shirts and cut them into rags. Then when you would normally reach for a paper towel, use this instead. I still use some paper towels for really nasty cleanups or bacon grease absorbing. A good trick I found to transition is to put your paper towels under the sink or linen closet, somewhere out of the way. Then put a bowl or basket of your new rags near where the paper towels used to be. Then when you go to reach for a paper towel, use a rag instead. But if you need a paper towel for something nasty or greasy, then you can still go get one. Just keep lots on hand, use them and then throw them right in the laundry. They are small enough, they hardly take up any extra space in a wash load.

    You could also use these for kleenex, or you could buy some handkerchiefs instead, if you are grossed out by the idea of using the same thing for both.

    You could also consider switching to cloth diapers and wipes.

    • I like the idea for the paper towels. I don’t know if we could get rid of the tissues, as I have sinus infections a lot and am grossed out by having snotty kleenex hanging around. I do typically use a burp rag to wipe Miss C’s nose (hers is mainly because of teething) instead of using tissues.
      We have talked about using cloth diapers, but again, we are too grossed out by it. Our paper products are honestly such a rare purchase (kleenex and paper towels are maybe once a month, if not less). I don’t think I could switch over completely to not having them around.

  4. Have you tried shopping at Aldi’s. We go once a month and stock up on everything we need and for 2 people, we budget $200 a month for groceries. Then we budget $60 more a month and stock up on meat only when it is on sale at Price Chopper or Save A Lot. I think I figured out once that 90% of our meals are less than $5 total because we stock up and buy from Aldi. All our meat is 99 cents per pound and our freezers are stocked with turkey rolls, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork roasts, pork steak and ribs. We also buy the stuffed chicken breasts from Aldi for 99 cents each and have those about once a week for dinner. We also do frozen fish from there for less than $4 a box and cook them in the oven and have baked potatoes or mac and cheese to go with them. Milk and heads of lettuce are super cheap there too. We buy cases of vegetables at a time so the initial stock up trip is expensive but then once a month when we go, I make a list of what we are low on and restock us back up. This way I don’t have to worry about money for groceries weekly, we do our shopping once a month and eat out of the freezers and cabinets.

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