Friday, 26 February 2016

How We Saved Money Feb 21-27, and February's Spending Recap

The past week had its highs and lows as far as household spending goes. My 6 year old is getting long legged and although we do get hand-me-downs, boys wear out pants and there aren't as many intact pairs to hand down! So while in town to buy groceries I was also on a mission to find him some jogging pants for school (he has plenty of jeans that fit but prefers softer clothes so I like to have a couple pairs of each). Since I was nearby I stopped into a children's clothing store and was happy to see "40-60% off Storewide" signs in the window. There was only one pair of jogging pants in his size and they were regular $24 but marked 30% off (it just occurred to me that I should have asked why they were only marked 30% off when the signs said 40%. Oh well!). By my math that still puts the pants at about $17. I hesitated and then put them back, and did not stop to look at the younger sized clothes that were marked $3.99. O has plenty of hand-me-downs and I didn't want to be tempted into buying things that aren't needed. On my way out of town I swung in to the Second Hand Store and found a pair of 7/8 jogging pants and also got a 9/10 for future. They were $1.50 each. I also found a Leap Reader video for $2. Although it wasn't on my list, my kids love these videos and they really do help kids learn to read. I didn't feel bad spending that $2! So altogether I spent $5 rather than $17, but the pants were too big so it will be a few months before he actually wears them. I will continue to watch the thrift stores.

I made it to Husband's bank to deposit money, then did an online transfer into his Tax Free Savings Account. These are things that I put off doing and then we don't end up saving the money. However, I find that once the money is out of our general accounts we "forget" about it and are less likely to feel small events are emergencies that warrant the hassle of withdrawing (something I tend to do when I just keep it in the savings account). Small strategies to actually save.

Husband has been away working most of February so I anticipated coming in below budget this month--and I would have had I not chosen to stockpile a bit of food that was on special. I came in $6.39 over my $600/month kitchen budget. There were also some realities that skew my monthly results but should average out over the year. As I've mentioned, we get free beef from my parents so this month very little was spent on meat. At the same time, I bought 4 AAA batteries at the grocery store for about $9, something I should have been proactive about watching for on sale and having a coupon ready. More was spent on health and beauty this month as I bought Husband razors and Epsom Salts for my dad. I bought things like plastic food wrap (a huge $10 roll), lightbulbs and stamps--rarely purchased but necessary nonetheless and all of this combined is an inedible addition of almost $70 to the month's grocery spending. It isn't hard to see how such expenditures can derail a budget when money is very tight.

Some stockpiled soup, coffee, vinegar, and the edge of a bag of flour--all purchased on special.
Keeping this shelf stocked prevents my paying full price for items we use regularly.

I left pet food for next month but now run the risk of running out of cat food before I get to town. Happily, the cats seem to like the dog food so I am crushing it a bit and mixing it with theirs to get us through. When I added my last grocery receipt to my spreadsheet I was stunned to see that a bag of grapes cost almost $11! I think I was more surprised at myself for not weighing the bag than I was at the price. Rookie mistake!

Another mistake on the bill (whether mine or the store's) was that when I purchased 2 packages of bacon I thought it was marked $4/pkg. I see now that I was charged over $13 for the two! Had I noticed that at the check out I would have put the bacon back. I simply don't buy it unless it is on special. This oversight is a combination of having a child "helping", bagging my own groceries, and also forgetting to watch the prices as they cross the screen. Normally I catch many mistakes simply by watching the prices as things are scanned, and I don't like shopping where it isn't visible to the customer. Lesson learned: check my receipt before leaving the till. In the past I have caught overcharges upwards of $20, so it is a good habit to have.

The last of my notes for February includes my continued commitment to support the Food Bank with every grocery shop. Most years I get generous at Christmas and then forget about it. But for the past several months I've watched for good specials and purchase a few dollars worth of food every week. When we forget to pick something out, my kids and I realize at the bin by the door and take something that we like out of our own food and donate it. I don't think the Food Bank can fix what is wrong (right now, or in general) but there is a lesson in this for my kids. I want them to be grateful for our good fortune, and realize that our security comes as a result of planning and budgeting with a whole lot of hard work and luck thrown in for good measure.


  1. Oh I hear you on the grapes! It happens to me at least once a year which is why I rarely buy grapes :-)

    1. I swore "never again" last time! How quickly I forgot!