In case any of you are wondering, I have successfully brought down my grocery budget pretty significantly. I have been keeping track of my receipts and it looks like we are averaging around $80/week for the month of March. Wahoo! We were a little over last week, but I went to the Farmer's Market and bought enough meat to last us a few weeks. So, that extra $$ will translate into less spending in the coming weeks. $80/week may sound like a lot, but I was averaging around (sometimes over) $100/week in January. I will take the extra $80/month!!! :)
So, how have I cut my grocery budget (when I say "groceries", that includes all household supplies like cleaning agents, paper products, etc, as well as food)? Well, I cut down on my use of paper products for one, which has nothing to do with my shopping, but everything to do with saving some money. I was using a fair amount of paper towels in the past. Not only does this increase the amount of garbage I'm producing, but I'm basically throwing money down the drain. I'm trying to be more conscious about my use of them and use rags or dish towels whenever possible.
I also am keeping a good eye on the sales fliers for my local grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. I am fortunate enough to have 4 grocery stores within 10 miles of my house and 3 drug stores within 15 miles. I have lots of places to bargain shop and coupon match. That's another thing: I started using coupons. I can find them online or in the newspaper. I have to say that I love the site Money Saving Mom, which tells you the super duper deals out there, when there's free samples, or great coupons to take advantage of. I look at that site daily so I don't have to spend a lot of my own time tracking down the deals.
When I first started price matching, I was taking a fair amount of time doing it. I was saving money, but it was way too time consuming for me. Now I probably take a total of an hour to an hour and a half per week (throughout the course of the week) looking at circulars, checking Money Saving Mom, and printing coupons. I don't think that's too bad when it usually saves me about $50-60/week.
I have also been trying to shop at my local farmer's market more often. It's been tough to get there in the last month or so because my little baby girl is sleeping SO poorly that she usually sleeps in on Saturday mornings (after being up from 1:30 AM to 4:30 AM) and I get to too. The farmer's market ends at 1 PM, so we have missed it a few Saturdays. I think we are getting back on track though, so we'll be getting there more frequently in the coming weeks. I am planning on talking with one of the ladies from Stony Ledge Farm about their CSA for the harvesting season. I am hoping that will save me even more money once May rolls around.
So, on a more personal note, I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday. I realized that I spend a lot of time doing things FOR my family and not as much time WITH my family. I don't know if any of you have a problem differentiating between the two, but there is a big difference. I have been thinking of them as the same. I cook, clean, do laundry, etc. and I often don't know where the time goes. When I was thinking of it yesterday, it didn't seem that I was spending enough of the day with my family. I may be too hard on myself, but I'm okay with that.
I am going to try to be better about my time management. I will limit myself to an hour of computer time in the morning while J plays and I have my coffee. I may also jump on later in the day during nap time or after she goes to bed (FYI, in case you're wondering, she's napping right now. ;)). Then I will limit my kitchen time (this is a huge step for me) to no more than an hour and a half per day. If I'm not able to get everything done that I want to in that time period, I will just have to pick up where I left off the next day. I will do household chores periodically throughout the day, making sure that I am spending plenty of quality time with J and Sam, when he gets home from work. I think this is going to make for a happier household.
So, there's my confession. I encourage you to make sure that you know the difference between doing things FOR your family and spending quality time WITH them. I am more aware now. :)