This school year, a lot has changed. I've gone from having little time to myself to having way too much time on my hands.
I've bleached the entire house, scoured the garage, and gotten my work done in record time. I've mowed the lawn and been done by 9 AM. I've watched too many talk shows and stared at the clock, counting down the hours until my children return.
To say it another way, I'm lost with both girls in school full time.
I know what people say: I can't WAIT until school starts! For me, though, I'd be happier spending most of my time with my girls. They grow too fast. And in some odd way, the craziness of having everyone at home tearing around the place like the Tasmanian Devil really, well, calms me!
So as I have had all this time on my hands, I've been considering ways to cut back on spending even more. And one idea has started to sprout in my mind: twice weekly shopping trips.
Let me explain.
I have never been one to run from one store to the next to save money. In my opinion, when you have tiny kids at home, you can't. You have XX number of hours when they nap, and that's the only time you have to take some time for yourself. Who wants to spend it menu planning and coupon clipping? Well, I'm sure some people do, but that was never my idea of fun. And going from one store to the next when you have a few kids in tow? That, to me, sounds like torture!
Add to that, I have always felt multiple trips to the store result in more spending. I don't know about you, but when I make a ‘quick' stop that I think will cost about $20 I walk out spending twice as much.
I'm now seeing some advantages to shopping more than one time per week, though, as long as I go in prepared.
- We ALWAYS run out of the fresh foods mid-week. Items like orange juice, fresh fruit, and yogurt don't last, and we don't have a supersized fridge to place extra items. Hence, I always have to make an extra trip to the store. Always.
- Up to this point, that extra trip has been a quick run in and grab what I think I need. No list, no coupons, just a quick stop and shop. Which, of course, costs about half the amount of our regular grocery budget, especially when I see something I want, don't need, but buy anyway.
- Again, I don't prepare beforehand, so I don't take in coupons or a list.
This week, I thought about this: Since I have some time on my hands to prepare in advance now, maybe it would be best to cut my shopping trips into two. Pick up what I need for the first part of the week during one trip, creating a list and clipping coupons, and then picking up what we need to get through the weekend (food disappears around here like candy in a Halloween bucket when we are all home for two full days) on Fridays.
If I make this a plan, I figure I can sit down on Thursday nights and again on Mondays, plan out the menus, see what's on sale, clip coupons, and head to the store after dropping the kids off at school. As long as I can reach $55 I can use my $5 off coupon at least during one trip; sometimes I end up with two of those $5 off coupons, which would be even better. And we wouldn't run out of food, which would negate the need to make quick trips where I wind up grabbing way more than we need because I don't go prepared.
A little more time spent at the store, perhaps; definitely more time in preparation. But do you think two trips a week can cut back on the bill?
I'm doing an experiment for this month to see if this new plan works, and I will post my results in a future blog.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How often do you stop in at the grocery store each week? Do you make a list and take coupons for each trip, or do you wing it and hope for the best? Do you think going twice per week but being prepared in advance would help save money, or do you think you would spend more?
Image via Flickr/Victor Semionov