Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I think we live on $1500.00 per month

Ok, maybe it isn't that much, but our grocery bills are CRAZY!! I saw this story on Fox News today about a family that is living on a $1500.00 a year budget (actual blog) and I thought "Holy heck! What's her secret"? Well, there is a catch to this. They have been stock piling stuff since July, so they have an arsenal of things that they will be pulling from that will keep them from needing to go to the store, especially for toiletries and household items. But I would like to peruse her blog and try to learn some of her techniques. She uses coupons and weekly flyer's to get items for virtually nothing.

But here is my dilemma:
I am really choosy about the things that I use in my home and I'm not sure I can really save that much money without compromising that. Part of the issue is the Little Man's allergies. There are just not enough coupons to save money on the gluten free, allergy friendly pre-packaged things that he eats. I can't find these things at Sam's Club and I can't use weekly flyer's to find the best deals on them. There just aren't any. Putting that aside, then there are the cleaning products and paper products. Cleaning products: I have been buying things like Method, Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers. Most of these products seem to last longer than your typical cleaning products and have less "chemicals" in them. Is it a coincidence that my sons asthma seems better under control since I've stopped using harsh chemicals in the house? Maybe...Probably...I don't know...I'm not sure I want to switch and find out.... Again, not too many coupons out there for these things and you can't get them at Sam's Club. Paper products: This I may be able to compromise on and my husband will be happy. The kids and I have decided that we will only buy paper products from recycled material. Toilet paper, napkins, paper plates: a lot of trees are saved by using recycled paper products but maybe we can compromise on that. Even the kids would love non recycled tissues again.
We do visit Sam's Club (thank you Mom for the membership) for things like canned goods, condiments and toiletries that we use all the time (my husband veto'd the Tom's of Maine tooth paste I tried to switch us to. I liked it but he said NO WAY).
I've also looked into joining a CSA this year. I've contacted 3. One never got back to me, one only takes 3 people and is full and one said there is a meeting this month and they will contact me (hoping to hear something from the 3rd because I'd really like to do this!!). If we are able to join the CSA, it's a lot of money up front but we get fresh, local farm grown fruits and veggies from May-October so there will be no need to go to the grocery for those. Then I've been thinking of buying 1/2 a cow to load up the freezer. At that point, I can almost skip the grocery altogether. Again, a lot of money up front, but I think it would really save us in the long run.
I've also been doing weekly Menu Planning and that has helped and I've been trying to create meals from things I already have in my pantry and freezer (both and have recipe sections where you can enter specific ingredients and they will give you recipes to use those items).
So although I'm not seeing any big savings on the groceries at the moment, I'm hoping with a little more work we can knock down what we are spending each month. I don't think I can ever do $1500.00/year. That woman is my hero. But we can do better. And with the economy the way it is, we need to do better. I just need to find a balance between saving and living healthy. The good news is that because of the food allergies we deal with, we spend next to nothing each year on eating out. I guess there is a silver lining in every cloud :O)

Edited to add for more money saving ideas go to:

Money Saving Mom
Affluent Pauper


andria said...

My friend turned me on to Angel food ministries.

I think the website is, or maybe google it.

Everyone is eligible and for 25 bucks a month you can get a huge box of meats, fruits, veggies, and some other staples and can add a fruit box etc. for extra. I know peanut butter is one but you could give that to someone. They have a monthly menu on the site. I ordered for the first time this month and go to pick my boxes up on the 28th. I'll let you know how that goes.

So far this month I have spent 84 bucks on groceries. Freezing half of a meal I cook for later use has really helped with that. I usually go to the store on Tues. but I think I may be able to wait until next week to go again. We'll see how long the milk holds on.

Contact some of the companies you purchase from and just tell them, I like your products but they don't fit our budget. Ask for some coupons. Stoneyfield Farms did that for me. We ate free yogurt and milk for months.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Thanks for the suggestions Andria! Will check those out :)

Jess P. said...

I know what you mean about shopping with food allergies. I swear that Tofutti and Silk are going to run us into the ground. I did a CSA last summer and I LOVED it. Great veggies, we even got to try things we maybe wouldn't have otherwise. I ended up having a lot that I could freeze - I'd just wash the beans or tomatoes off and throw them in a plastic bag in the freezer, no real prep work needed.

Gab said...

I do alot of meal planning - that saves a ton!

I know what you mean about cleaning supplies - they've really helped Mark's allergies too. The thing that helped the most was eliminating dryer sheets. It took us forever to discover how badly they affected him - once we stopped using them his allergies/sneezing really subsided.

Nowheymama said...

I love that blog! And she shut it down?

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I didn't know she shut it down :( It was still there yesterday when I linked it. That's too bad. Maybe she was getting too much traffic from the news story. I wish them well!

Barbara H. said...

I have noticed grocery prices are skyrocketing. I think you have some good plans.

Eating out is one of my faults -- I love it too much.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I'm embarrassed to say that I know for a fact that our Discover hits $1500.00 a month. We pay that off in full, but that is our cash in and out. That does not include utilities, house payment and the like. I plan on reading more about the amazing money saving woman and linking to you in a future post.

Yes, we all need to save money. Suze Orman (sp?) was on the Today show this morning stating that everyone in every circumstance needs to save money right now period. There are (almost) always corners that can be cut. I need to trim some corners back myself. Thanks for the info to try to work on that better.

Bailey's Leaf said...

Re: the first comment. I had a friend tell me about Angel Food Ministries. She and her family are on a very tight budget and she said that she gave it a whirl. She said that unfortunately so much of the food was packaged and not as healthy as what she had hoped. She decided not to go again, as she could save more money on her own buying healthier food. But it wouldn't be an option for your family due to the allergies involved anyhow.

Just an FYI for the rest of your readers.

annie said...

There's no way we could live on 1500 a year. I do think we could trim up our budget..

Sue said...

I have gone generic on all that I can - paper products, foods that brands don't matter, etc. I'm not generic on cleaners, but I don't buy the pricier stuff either.

I hear you on coupons. I had a paper subscription for Sunday only, but I cancelled it. Since going dairy-free I spend more on the paper for the coupons then I save now. I still shop the circular and will raid my Mom's coupons when I can.

Specialty foods are so pricy. I save where I can and yes, we don't eat out either. Both a good and stinky thing.

But yes, that woman is amazing for being able to do that. :)

Jamie said...

Have you written to Method to get coupons? I write to them several times a year and tell them how much I love their products and they'll send me a stack of coupons for $1 off any of their items.

Seventh Generation also has a website where you can print off your own coupons.

It's not going to save you a ton of money since their products are pricier, but every bit helps!

pinkexplosion said...

I agree we tried Angel Food as well, and it was mostly boxed and not very healthy. Cheap but not healthy.

We too are considering the 1/2 a cow thing, it just makes more sense.

There is not a local CSA by us, or I would get in on that.

We are currently spending $275-300 a month on all personal items, groceries, etc (including diapers for two kids).

I think it is a bit missleading though that they say they are living off of 1500 a year. . .if I stockpiled for 6 months I could too.

On a side note my husband doesn't like Tom's toothpaste either.