Ever since before Noah was born, Ryan and I have been trying to get debt free minus our mortgage. Not only do we want to be debt free, but we are also trying to make sure that we are being good stewards of our money. Since God is the One who has blessed us with our jobs and income, we think it's important to make good choices with our money. So, we have just a little bit more to go to pay off the last of our debt, and we've been doing the envelope system for about 4 months now. The envelope system is when you decide how much money you are going to spend on groceries, entertainment, etc. each month and withdraw that amount of money in cash once per month. It has really helped us make better choices with our money...and not have any slow leaks (like spending lots of money to go out to eat all of the time). We've already been saving so much money by not buying formula and making all of Noah's baby food. I would guess that 95% of his clothes are gifts or hand-me-downs, so that is saving us a ton of money. I still buy Pampers because I think they are the best diapers in the world, though I am always on the look out for the best deal on them. I have lots of blogs that are helpful in my money-saving efforts:
My friend Beckie is the goddess of spending wisely. She came over a couple weeks ago to give me her tutorial about how to save as much money grocery shopping. I really thought I had the hang of things...making a menu each week and only buying things that we needed for those meals. While I know I was saving money, I'm going to try Beckie's method for shopping. Rather than buy what you need at that very moment, Beckie's method is to buy things only when they are on sale...and when you can add coupons to the sales in order to get the best prices. Of course you can't always do that...for example with milk...but for most things it does work great. In one shopping trip to Walgreens, CVS (these have some of the very best deals I've noticed!), and Meijer, I spent $83 (I only had $90 left in my budget) and saved $55 with coupons and sale prices. Can you believe that??? I wish I had taken a picture of everything I bought. My favorite deal was getting five 12 packs of Pepsi products and 2 bags of Frito Lay products, which totalled $20 and getting $10 in register rewards at Walgreens. I turned around and bought paper towels and toilet paper and almost got them for free. I was so excited, I laid everything out on the counter and took Ryan on a tour of all our great deals. :) I should also mention that I did my shopping from 9-10:30 p.m. after Noah was in bed so I didn't have to worry about rushing back to feed him. The stores were empty (of course), so it was just me, my coupons, my calculator, and isles of products. :) Here are some really great websites to use:
http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ (I am going to sign up for this program this week - and if you decide to do it someday, say that I referred you!)
The Grocery Game basically does all of the work for you. You have to pay a small fee monthly (like $4 at most I think), and you can find out where to get the best deals on items. It’s a weekly list of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers’ coupons and specials -- advertised and unadvertised. They do all the hard work and research, and present it to you in a straightforward format. My friend Beckie showed me her list, and you wouldn't believe all of the free items you can get by using manufacturer coupons and store coupons/sales. It's pretty wild! You can even make money on many occasions. I'll let you know how it goes when I start. For now, I've just been looking at the weekly grocery ads and writing down everything I want to buy, trying to find coupons to match, etc. Needless to say, it's been a lot of work. I'm really looking forward to trying something more efficient!!
My favorite deal of the day is my new Kitchenaid Mixer! I finally bought one today after eyeing them for the past 2-3 years. The one that was perfect for me is originally $240. Kohls had a deal where I could buy the mixer for $199.99. If I went in today before 1 p.m., I could get an extra 15% off ($30). This brought the price to $169.99. I had a $15 dollar off coupon in my Zoobook. Plus, I signed up for Kohls emails and got to print a $5 off coupon. This brought the price to $149.99. PLUS...my mom got me a $50 gift card to Kohls for my birthday, bringing the grand total to $100!!! Not only that, but Kohls was also offering a $20 Kohls gift card by mail through one of their rebate programs. So, I technically spent $80 out of my pocket since I'm going to get a $20 gift card soon. I'm so excited because I love this mixer AND I got a great deal. These people behind me were watching the lady scanning all my coupons and gift cards, and they were like, "How much did you end up paying?" "That's incredible!" "You must be a super shopper!" It was funny...and it felt really good. :)
So what does this have to do with Noah, probably not a whole lot at the moment. I am hoping, though, that as he gets older, he makes responsible choices with his money, too. I hope that we are good role models for him in this way. I look forward to giving him an allowance each month for doing work around the house. I like the idea of it being monthly rather than weekly. :) Plus, I am excited to help him understand the importance of giving some of your money away. I think it will be neat to see him decide how to tithe his money...whether it's to purchase food for our church's food bank, buy gifts for children at Christmas, cancer research, homeless people, animal shelters, etc....it will be Noah giving some of what he has earned to other people or organizations that really need the money to get their needs met. I'm watching him now, bouncing in his Baby Einstein bouncer, and just thinking how beautiful he is and how much I love him. I really don't think life gets better than this.