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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby Steps Challenge- Baby Step #3

We've been learning about stockpiling and making smart purchases at the store in baby steps. New habits happen by making small changes. So far, you should have a list of foods you prepare most often, and from there, you've been able to assemble a list of essential staples that you always use. I asked you to track the prices of those essentials last month with a notebook. Since these are items that you presumably buy often, at this point you should have a nice breakout of the high and low ranges for each item. Our goal is to have you only purchase foods at that low range. How? Stock up on the items you know you will use when they hit that point.

Example. We use a LOT of cheese in this house. Price range for an 8oz bag or block tends to be $1 on the low to $2.50 on the high. I NEVER want to purchase at $2.50. That's 2.5 bags on the low end. Cheese is one of those foods that keeps for a long time in the fridge, and shredded cheese can also be put in the freezer. The $1 price comes up around here at least once per month, so whenever I see it, I buy several. Today Hy-Vee had cheese for $1, and I bought 5 bags to add to my stash.

Pasta is another one for us. I wait for it to hit $1 before I purchase, then I purchase several and add to my stockpile shelves in the basement.

Pick one or two items that you can start doing this with, and set aside $5 each week for the purpose of stockpiling just to start. As you get more confident you will find yourself buying more and more in the stockpiling dept. Again, these are items that you typically use in your meal plans, so by doing this you've accomplished 2 things: 1) you're making a substantial savings on items you use regularly, and 2) you now have those items on hand whenever you need them so you never have to purchase an item at the high range out of desparation!

The amount you can stock up on depends on the space you have, and the amount you can eat up before expiration dates. I currently have 20 boxes of cereal in my basement. It looks crazy, but my 2 little boys will happy take care of those for me in short order. Best part...the average price I paid for those cereal boxes? About .50 per box. WAY better than the usual $3 non sale price, right? That leads me to my next baby step. Coupons.

Now that you are starting to take advantage of the low price, you can even improve that price by using coupons for items you use regularly on top of the low price.

For the next 2 weeks, find the Sunday paper, and cut out ONLY the coupons that match items you use. Don't cut anything you aren't likely to use...it just adds to the stack and makes more work. If you have a coupon organizer, great...I will show you how to make a very cool large organizer soon that makes finding your coupons super easy. But right now we're at baby steps, right? If you use 1 or 2 coupons each time you shop I will be so excited! Right now I just want you to get into the habit of going through the coupons and clipping out the ones that are for products you use.

Since you have familiarized yourself with the prices for those products, when you clip a coupon you can quickly imagine the possible prices. Back to that .50 box of cereal. I refuse to buy any box of cereal that costs more than $1. And yet I have 20 boxes of cereal in my basement.

Have fun over the next couple of weeks. Have a question? Ask! mrigden at gmail dot com. Have a success story? Please share! I want to hear how you're doing as we head into the New Year!

Good Luck!