Anybody that knows me personally knows that I am an extremely type “A” person with a budget. I love being organized and being able to save. Saving money is super important to our family because it allows us to be better stewards of our finances that God provides us as well as allows us to do more of the things that we enjoy, like traveling and making memories as a family. Some times this means skipping fast food during the week for lunches and other times it means that we already spent our weekend budget on Friday and Saturday and have to stay in on Sundays.
With that being said, we do not go without most of the time. We remodeled two floors in our house within a year primarily because we did the work ourselves and bought used furniture from thrift stores. We also travel a ton but when we do, we have a budget and still do things smart.
Grocery shopping has been the area that truly can make or break us when it comes to staying on track to our budget. It definitely took a few years to for us to get a good system down, but there are three main things that we do to help keep our costs at a minimum every week.
1. Electronic Shopping List
Dusty and I utilize tons of helpful apps on our iPhones. One that has been extremely beneficial to our weekly grocery shopping is Reminders. Reminders is a great way for us to make an electronic shopping list as the week goes by. If Dusty empties the last bit of coffee, he can add it to the shared shopping list straight from his phone in the kitchen. If I open the extra toothpaste in the house, leaving us without a backup, I can add it from our bathroom. Since we never forget our phones, you also always have the shopping list with you as well. As you purchase things throughout your shopping trip, you can easily check them off as the items get tossed in the cart.
We also try to only make one trip a week. Multiple trips throughout the week make it hard to stay on track with our budget. Instead I can easily text Dusty the day before I go and ask him to think about what he needs for the upcoming week at the store while he is at work. He can add it to the list as items come to his mind and it updates on my phone immediately!
So much money is wasted at the grocery store on impulse buys. With our shopping list, I can plan out our meals for the week and stick to my list. It really helps cut down on spending all of our money on items that we don’t really need and allows us to save a bit each week.
2. Ibotta & Couponing
Couponing can be a tricky thing. Many people can get in trouble with coupons, because they buy it only because there is a coupon for that item. Instead, I cut and save only the coupons that I know that we will use. I also do not take a coupon book to the store with me. Prior to heading to the store, I review my shopping list (which is on my computer as well since Apple syncs everything together) and match the coupons to my list right from my home office. There are also a ton of different coupon sites that I use to search for items that I may not have a coupon for prior to heading to the store!
I also love my Ibotta app. In the past year, I have received over $200 back just from scanning the items that I already buy. Again, be careful with this and only buy things that are on your shopping list. I have switched brands of coffee creamer or household cleaner if we needed it because it was on the app, but only if the brand featured on the app was cheaper.
If you haven’t heard of Ibotta, it is amazing. It is cash back coupons that pays you real cash whenever, wherever you shop. Although we primarily use it during our grocery shopping, you can also receive cash for shopping at stores like Best Buy, Old Navy, or Loft as well as dining or going to the movies! Using it is really simple as well. First you download the Ibotta app, which is available on both iOS and Android. The app is required to submit a receipt. Next, before you go shopping, you unlock cash rewards by completing simple tasks, like answering a question or watching a short commercial. After you purchase the unlocked items on your list, you scan your product barcodes, then submit a photo of your receipt. It is really that easy! Ibotta promises that you’ll have the cash deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours, but I usually receive mine even quicker! I typically have my money transferred straight to my PayPal account; however, you can also purchase gift cards to places like Starbucks with your rewards.
Also, if you sign up through my link, you will start out with $10 in your account! That is completely free money on top of the free money you get back once you start using it for things that you already buy! Right now, they are giving $2 back on any produce. Crazy?!
3. Wal-Mart Grocery Same-Day Pickup
Now this is my newest favorite thing! Wal-Mart Grocery Same-Day Pickup is exactly what it sounds like. You literally order groceries on an app, pick a pickup time, and go pick them up! It is like a grocery drive-up service. They even load them into your trunk!
It is really that simple. I can simply shop my grocery list online, choose a time to pick up my order and then pull in to a designated parking area at my local store, where associates will load the items into my cars. It’s all the convenience of a specially trained personal shopper, plus the things you’d expect from Wal-Mart: the same low prices that they offer every day in their local stores; no extra fees or charges; and the ability to place an order and pick it up the very same day.
If you want to try it for yourself and get $10 off, click here! Not all areas are available yet, as we just got ours last week here in the St. Louis area, but they are adding new locations all of the time. I love it because I don’t buy anything extra at all. There is nothing to even impulse shop from since you are not in a store. I feel like I made healthier options, bought more towards what we would actually eat, and saved $10 off my first order!
With a baby, this is super great because I do not have to drag Ollie around in a cart at Wal-Mart while getting my groceries. He slept through my entire “grocery shopping” experience this week since we never left the car. How great is that?
I love hearing others secrets to keeping their costs low and savings high! What are some of your special things that you do to help out the family budget?