Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Price books, over budget woes and back on track tips

I recently found my grocery price book to be woefully out of date.
I don't think I've updated my list in at least a year. For the most part- I've been able to keep track of prices in my head and/or looking at my past receipts. I keep all my grocery shopping receipts in envelopes by month for a whole year to track pricing. After a trip to Aldi on Saturday with Mr. Steady, in which I padded my budget an extra $10 to compensate for price increases and used it all- I spent some time going over those past receipts and updating my price book. Now, I hadn't been shopping at Aldi since the end of August. I usually go every 3 weeks but our busy schedule has prevented me from planning a trip (its a 40 minutes drive and so I try to coordinate errands and save gas). I noticed quite a few prices had jumped 10-20 cents and a few had actually gone down a couple pennies here and three pennies there.
In September, because of our busy schedule and me being unable to get to Aldi, which meant purchasing at the local higher priced grocery stores- I went $50 over budget for the month. That is a LOT of money to us.  I am determined to make sure that does not happen this month. So for the first two weeks of October, we ate mostly from the pantry- which enabled me to make the trip to Aldi to restock the pantry plus a trip to my favorite Amish store. I am determined to knuckle down this month and keep track of every single penny- not going over. At all.

So with that in mind- I thought I'd share another helpful frugal trick I try to employ:
Earlier this year I did a pricing experiment- I saved six weeks of sales fliers from my favorite local grocery store. I went through the fliers and noted the sale items I would likely purchase for that week. I did this for all 6 weeks and at the end of six weeks- I had a weekly breakdown of sale items. At a glance, I could tell what weeks certain items would be on sale.
For example- milk is on sale 2/$5 on the second, third and fifth weeks.
This list has been especially helpful with meat sales. Example- before I tracked the fliers, I would end up paying full price for boneless, skinless chicken breasts only to find that exact brand on sale the following week. This weekly breakdown has helped enhance my meal planning. Let's say I wanted to make Crockpot Chicken-n-dumplings. I check the freezer and find I only have a couple of breasts and will need to buy more. I consult my weekly flier breakdown and see that chicken breasts will go on sale in a week. I then swap that meal for one the following week for which I already have the ingredients on hand.
So far the system has worked well- the only difference is the price breaks aren't as great as they were even 5 months ago.

Also of Note:
This post may be helpful- an Aldi price list from March 2011. Its a few cents under here and there but if you use it to work from and pad your budget a few more dollars you should come close.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Amy, I don't subscribe to a newspaper or clip many coupons, but this may be of interest to you. There is a website called 'couponmom.com' that coordinates coupons to sales in your area. The plan is that you get the Sunday paper, write the date of the paper on the coupon sections, and then each couponmom tells you what is on sale in your area, and what date the coupon for that was published. You look through the stack of coupon sections, find the date, clip the coupon, and get the maximum savings. I usually shop at Aldi or Trader Joe's, so no couponing there. Lynne

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  2. Lynne- thanks for the input. Oh how I wish we had a Trader Joe's nearby! I've found when I've tried couponing in the past that the coupons are mostly for things/brands I wouldn't normally buy and therefore don't offer much of a savings for me... Sometimes though there's a good one but not enough to warrant buying the paper. I do go thru my parents' paper and get one or two coupons every so often. Every little bit helps.

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