Sunday, January 31, 2010

Budgeting 101-Step 1_How to get started

To truly gain control of your finances, I feel that a budget is a must have. You have to be able to see what money is coming into your home and what money is going out. The instructions below detail how I created my budget.

The best way to start is with your checkbook register or your bank statements. Look at your last 2-3 months of records and see where you spent your money. If you purchase a lot with cash, keep your receipts for at least a month and account for those as well.

First make a list of all loan payments including your house payment, car payments, credit cards, and other debt you may have down the left side of a piece of paper or spreadsheet. Now add all of your basic necessities such as electric bill, water, telephone, cellular phone, prescriptions, groceries, gas, lunch, eating out, clothes, gifts, etc. Then go back through your bank statements or check register and make sure you that each check you wrote has a category. Now, list the months at the top of the page going across that you have reviewed. Fill in the amount for each month that you spent in that category. You may have to total several checks together to arrive at this figure. For example,


House pmt___________1000_________1000__________1000
Car pmt______________400__________400___________400

Now take a few minutes to see where your money went. Did you realize how much you were spending on groceries or eating out? It is surprising to most people when you really put it down on paper.

You will not be able to make a perfect budget. It will take several months of working in the budget to fine tune it to what you can finally live with. But the exercise above does give you a starting point.

Stay tuned for my next post on Step 2 of Budgeting 101.

Budget Update

Weekly update:

For the fifth week in January, I came in under budget by $31.69. I have a $10 RR from Walgreens that I am planning on using next week with the Blink tears FREE item and probably some more drinks. They are 5/$15 again this week with the $10 RR after $20 purchase.

Monthly update:

For the month of January, I came in under budget by $7.47. I spent a total of $617.53 for $1,012.13 in groceries with coupon savings of $156.03.

As I prepared my budget for February, I had to adjust for $100 extra for electricity and $85 for auto maintenance. I am hoping to squeeze some from my weekly grocery budget to cover these extras.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Awesome Apple Bread

I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago while searching for something to make with my apples left over from the FFA sale. I found it on Recipezaar (I love that site) under Recipe #647. Since the apples are on sale at the Piggly Wiggly, I thought I would buy a few and make up another batch. You will need enough apples to make 3 diced cups. I believe it took 5-6 apples the last time I made it.

Awesome Apple Bread

1 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups apples, diced
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Combine and set aside the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
2. Sift flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to oil mixture gradually.
3. Add apples and nuts.
4. Bake in 2 regular loaf pans or 3 foil loaf pans for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees.
5. Cool 10 minutes in the pan.
6. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
7. Note: The author stated she baked it at 325 degrees for about 70 minutes.

I have the flex pan with eight small loaves which I like to use. I believe I also used one foil loaf pan placed at the end of cookie sheet with the flex pan. I believe I cooked mine on 325 for 70 minutes. After cooling, I wrapped each small loaf in Glad wrap and then in foil and froze. When ready to eat just take out of the freezer the night before or defrost in microwave.

Walgreens Week of 01/31/10 - 02/06/10

For a list of the deals next week at Walgreens, go here to the Two Thrifty Sisters. I am so thankful to have found these two Alabama coupon loving sisters.

Do you think they are Roll Tide fans?

Grocery Deals 01/27/10 - 02/2/10

Hello everyone! This week's stockpiling deals are as follows:

Piggly Wiggly (Brundidge and Troy) Ad in mailbox

Fresh fryer thighs or drumsticks (family pack) - $.79/lb
Idaho potatoes 5 lb bag - $.99
Assorted products of Coca-Cola 2 ltr btl - $.79 (limit 4)
Kraft mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 32 oz jar - $2.99
Hunt's tomato ketchup 24 oz squeeze btl - $.99
Grand's biscuits 16.3 oz can - 2/$3 less $.30/2 printable coupon or from 12-06 SS
McKenzie 20 oz cream-style corn - $.99
Sister Schubert rolls - 2/$5 less $.50 coupon from 11-15 SS
White or red seedless grapes - $1.99 per lb
Variety of apples $.99 per lb

IGA (ad in Dothan Eagle)

Fresh fryer leg quarters - $.49 per lb
Green bell peppers - 2/$1

Efurds (ad in Dothan Eagle)

Tenderlean pork Boston Butts - $.99 per lb
Bone-in whole ribeyes - $3.99 per lb
Bone-in ribeye steaks (family pack) - $4.99 per lb
Boneless, skinless fryer breast - $1.89 per lb

U-Sav (ad in Dothan Eagle)

Market pack fryer breast - $.89 per lb
2-pack Boston Butt pork roast - $.95 per lb (Must find 2 pack at Wal-Mart to comp)
Kraft Mayonnaise 32 oz jar - $2.89
Daisy sour cream 8 oz - $.79

Food Depot (Cost + 10%) (ad in Dothan Eagle)

# 2 whole ribeyes $2.55 per lb
10lb bag fryer leg quarters $.44 per lb
Kraft BBQ sauce 18 oz (regular only) - $.99
Cucumbers or fresh green onions - $.44
Lipton 24 ct tea bags - $1.69
Maxwell House coffee 11.5 oz bag (original only) - $1.99 less $1.00/2 coupon from 12-13 SS

Piggly Wiggly (Dothan-Cost + 10%) (ad in Dothan Eagle)

Beef cube steak family pack - $1.97 per lb
PW gallon milk - $2.45
Angel Soft bath tissue (4 roll) - $.77 (I have not found these at Wal-Mart)
Kraft salad dressing 16 oz - $1.96
Assorted Totinos pizzas $.98
Bounty towels - $.77 less $.25 coupon from 12-27 PG
Sara Lee classic white bread - 2/$3
Bananas - $.38 per lb

Target (ad in Sunday's Dothan Eagle)

Olay 5 oz Regenerist Cleanser $5.49 less $3.00 coupon from 01-17-PG
18 oz Oreo cookies - $2.79
24 pk Dasani water - $3.99
14 ct 15 mg Prevacid 24 hr - $10.99 less $3.00 coupon from 01-10 SS or $2.00 coupon from display
Crayola 64 ct crayons - $2.00
Crayola 10 ct broad tip classic markers - $2.00

Winn Dixie (ad from store or Winn Dixie website)

Chicken thighs or drumsticks BOGO - $.90 per lb (Must buy 2 packs-Wal-Mart will not match)
Any size package boneless ribeye steaks - $5.99 per lb
Doritos BOGO - $2.00 each (Must buy 2 bags-Wal-Mart will not match)
Keebler Fudge Shoppe cookies BOGO $2.20 each (less $1.00 printable coupon if Cheesecake Middles are included) (You must buy 2 packages - Wal-Mart will not match)

I shop by mostly purchasing items that are on rock bottom sales prices and stockpile. It is even better if I have a coupon. I do buy milk, eggs, bread and a few other items weekly or every other week as I need them.

My goal on Grocery Store Deals is to provide to you the items I see in the sales ads listed above that are to me at stockpile prices. I usually know the best prices on items I normally buy for my family but you may have a higher or lower price in mind. For example, I always stock up on fryer breast at $.99/lb or assorted pork chops at $1.50/lb. Please comment if you see a better deal so we all can share in the savings. There are a few stores in the area that I do not have store ads for that may indeed have a cheaper price. Since I do take my ads to my local Wal-Mart and comp prices and you must have the ads with you, I have only included those ads. Remember, you need to obtain the Dothan Eagle from Wednesday to find these ads except for Target (Sunday's DE) or Winn Dixie (website or store) and take these ads with you to the store.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekly Budget Update

For this fourth week of January, I spent $154 on $338 of items and saved $184. My savings rate was 54.5% and I used $80 worth of coupons. This week was my best savings week this month thanks to the Pepsi and Frito Lay deal at Walgreens. However, I did go over my $125 budget by $29. The Pepsi deal was too good to pass up and $10 of that will be returned later in a mail in rebate. I do use the Savings Tracker I mentioned here and added a weekly savings rate column to the far right. The spreadsheet keeps track of my monthly budget at the top of the page but I may also add a weekly budget column as well.

I have been using the envelope system for the last 1-2 years now and it seems to work best for me. My goal this year is to be more accountable on my grocery budget and to hopefully lower my budget to $75 a week from the $125 I currently have in place. I am not setting a goal on savings percentage because I cannot account for the items I comp at Wal-Mart. I actually save more than my totals indicate because of the way I shop. I think if I can focus on the weekly amount, I can manage my grocery spending better and hopefully find ways to lower my out of pocket.

For those of you who do not run your household finances with a budget, let me encourage you to at least try. It will make a huge difference in the way you view your finances and help you to have a clear picture of your financial situation. I will be posting later about how to set up a budget and the ways I have found to save on buying groceries for my family.

Great savings on Pepsi/Frito-Lay

I did not realize until today that you can use the Coors Light rebate offer even if you do not buy any beer. On page 2 of the pdf document found here at Two Thrifty Sisters you can print out the rebate form for the state of Alabama which only requires you to purchase $30 worth of Tostitos chips, Tostitos dips, Pepsi carbonated soft drinks, condiments, plastic cups, ice, paper plates, and/or deli items (any brand, any size) to receive a rebate of $10.

This is a great deal with the Pepsi Register Reward deal at Walgreens. I purchased mine last week while the Pepsi products were 5/$15. This week the drinks are 3/$12 but the chips and dip are still 2/$5. You can still obtain the $10 RR when you purchase $20 of Pepsi or Frito-Lay products listed in the ad.

For only $9 out of pocket, I will have (10) 12 pks of Pepsi products, (3) bags of chips and (1) jar of dip.

Transaction #1
(5) 12 pk of Pepsi products $15
(2) Doritos $5
Subtotal = $20 less $10 Register Reward =Total $10

Transaction #2
(5) 12 pk of Pepsi products $15
(1) Tostitos chips $2.50
(1) Tostitos dip $2.50
less coupon from All You magazine $1.00
Subtotal = $19 less $10 Register Reward = Total $9

Final total = $19 minus $10 rebate = $9

**Remember you cannot use a RR from the Pepsi deal on more Pepsi. I had several transactions in between the two listed above.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old El Paso Catalina at Winn Dixie

Purchase any Old El Paso taco shells, dinner kits, seasoning, refried beans or heat & serve side dishes between 01/25/10 - 02/21/10

-save $1.00 on your next beef or chicken purchase when you buy any 3 pkgs Old El Paso taco shells, dinner kits, seasoning, refried beans or heat & serve side dishes.

-save $3.00 on your next beef or chicken purchase when you buy any 6 pkgs Old El Paso taco shells, dinner kits, seasoning, refried beans or heat & serve side dishes.

All items must be purchased in one shopping order.

Pillsbury Catalina at Winn Dixie

Buy any Pillsbury Refrigerated baked goods between 01/25/10 - 02/21/10

Buy (4) & get $2.00 or
Buy (5) & get $3.00 or
Buy (6) or more & get $4.00

Coupon off your next order and all items must be purchased in one shopping order.

Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescents, Cookies, Sweet Rolls, Grands! Biscuits, Grands! Cinnamon Rolls, Pie Crusts, Dinner Rolls, Loaves, Breadsticks or Pizza Crust

Friday, January 22, 2010

Free downloadable 2010 Savings Tracker

I found this great free downloadable savings tracker at The Coupon Project. Just click here to reach the post where you can see the links to the free download.

I started this on January 1st and was able to use it with Open Office since I do not have Excel on my computer at home. With a glance I can see that so far this year I have saved $303 using $136 of coupons. You can enter your monthly grocery budget and it will track that as well.

For the month of January, my budgeted amount for groceries is $625 or $125 a week. With two weeks left in the month, I have $215 left in my grocery budget to finish out the month. My goal is to lower my budget to $75 a week by the Fall. That would be a savings of $200 a month. What would you do with an extra $200 a month? Pay off bills, save for a vacation, or just save for a rainy day!

Walgreens Week of 01/24/10 - 01/30/10

Jenny at Southern Savers has posted the deals at Walgreens next week. Go here to see what is on sale and to print out your coupons before they are all gone.

If you are new to shopping at Walgreens, check out this post at i heart wags. There is also a post there concerning next week's deals.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grocery Deals 01/20/10 - 01/26/10

The following is a list of the deals I found this week:

Winn Dixie
lettuce $.99
cucumbers $.49
Del Monte fruit naturals 10/$10-use coupon for $1/3 from here
Betty Crocker fruit shapes 2/$4-use coupon $.40/1 from here
Sargento shredded cheese (4-8oz) 2/$4-use $.55/1 coupon from the November and December All You magazine
split chicken breast $.99/lb
assorted pork chops $1.49/lb

Piggly Wiggly (Brundidge or Troy)
Boston Butt pork roast $.99/lb
Whole fryers $.99/lb
lettuce $.99

Piggly Wiggly (Dothan)-Cost + 10%
Whole Boston Butt (2 to a Pack) $.77/lb
Bagged whole fryers $.88/lb
Charmin bath tissue 4 roll $.95-use $.25/1 coupon from 12-27 PG
Crisco vegetable oil 48 oz $1.78-use $.55/1 coupon from 11-08 RP
Tetley tea bags 24ct $1.38-use $.55/1 coupon from 12-13 SS or $.50/1 here
Russett potatoes 10 lb bag $1.78
Romaine lettuce (head) $.88

Whole fryers $.99/lb
Assorted pork chops $1.49/lb
Pork boston butts $.99/lb
Red or black rind hoop cheese $2.99/lb
12 pk Pepsi products 4/$12
Jersey Farm milk gallon $3.19

We like to buy meat at either Winn Dixie or Piggly Wiggly (Brundidge or Troy) so we do not usually comp meat at Wal-Mart. I also have a $10/$50 coupon from Winn Dixie from last week so I am hoping to use it on the chicken breast and pork chops.

Note**Some Wal-Marts will not match (comp) prices from competitors who are Cost + 10% establishments. Please check with your local Wal-Mart on their policy.

If you see a great deal that I have missed please let me know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How I plan my shopping trips?

I would like to try to explain the way I grocery shop and how I hope to use this blog to help you snag some really good deals as well. I mainly shop at Walgreens, Winn-Dixie, and Wal-Mart. I subscribe to the largest local paper in my area (which for me is the Dothan Eagle) which gives me the Sunday paper (for the coupon inserts) and the Wednesday paper (for the sales ads). I take the Wednesday paper and collect all of the sales ads. These are on the pages of the actual paper, not separate inserts. Unless I luckily find a Winn-Dixie or Piggly Wiggly (Enterprise or Dothan) sales ad included inside. At my house, I also receive the Piggly Wiggly sales ad for the Troy and Brundidge stores on Tuesday. I also look online here at the local Winn-Dixie stores in either Enterprise or Dothan.

I then go through each ad and circle any items that I believe are a good price or even a better price if I have a coupon to match. I shop at Walgreens for the weekly deals and I shop at Winn-Dixie when I feel it is worth my time. I then take the sales papers with me to Wal-Mart and comp the prices. I usually obtain my Walgreens list from several online frugal websites or blogs. I included this week's Walgreens deals on an earlier post. I also included a post that details my most recent Walgreens shopping trip and how I purchased $136 of items for only $40.

What I hope to achieve is to provide you with weekly updates on the deals I see from each ad. Then you can shop and save for your family as well. I have so far in the month of January alone, saved my family $303 while purchasing $713 worth of groceries for only $410. Out of this savings, $136 were from coupons alone. This total does include such things as OTC allergy medicine, washing detergent, light bulbs, ink cartridges, and dog food. So it is not all food items.

I have a big red binder that I use to collect and organize my coupons but I normally do not have more than two papers on Sunday (mine and my mom's). Usually once or twice a month, I will order coupons from the coupon clippers but usually it is on something that I buy a lot on sale or a specific brand we like. It will take time to build up your coupons so do not be discouraged if you are just starting out. They are a lot of internet coupons out there now and most stores now accept those in this area at least.

I will post a picture of my coupon binder later but if you have any questions so far please leave me a comment and I will try to respond as quickly as I can.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trip to Walgreens on January 18, 2010

I visited my local Walgreens today and purchased $136.32 of items for only $39.95. Here's what I bought:

Transaction #1
(5) 12 pk pepsi products-$15.00
(2) Doritos $5.00

-$2.00 RR from Colgate toothpaste
-$2.00 RR from Colgate toothpaste
-$2.50 RR from Thermawrap

Total-$15.10 received a $10.00 RR

Transaction #2
Aquafresh iso-active toothpaste - $4.79
Theraflu $3.99
Lipton tea $2.99
(2) Neosporin Lip Health $8.00
(3) Kraft mac&cheese $1.77 (after in store ad coupon-see below)
(1) Kraft mac&cheese $1.49
Dawn dishwashing detergent $ .99 (after in store ad coupon-see below)
(2) Snickers $.78

-in store ad coupon on Kraft mac&cheese reducing the price to $.59
-in store ad coupon on Dawn dishwashing liquid reducing the price to $.99
-$2.00 in store ad coupon on Aquafresh toothpaste
-$2.00 mfr coupon on Aquafresh toothpaste (received from register at Walgreens)
-$2.00 mfr coupon on Theraflu
-$3.00 mfr coupon on Neosporin Lip Health
-$3.00 mfr coupon on Neosporin Lip Health
-$1.30 mfr coupon on Kraft mac&cheese B3G1 free (Walgreens would only give me credit for $1.30)
-$ .25 mfr coupon on Dawn dishwashing detergent
-$10RR from Pepsi deal above

Total = $2.10 received a $4 RR and a $3 RR

Transaction #3

Zyrtec eye drops $12.99
Zyrtec 24 hr allergy relief $18.99
Snickers $ .39
(2) Valentine gift bags $ .58

-$4.00 mfr coupon on Zyrtec allergy relief
-$4.00 mfr coupon on Zyrtec itchy eye drops (from last package of Zyrtec allergy relief)
-$4.00 RR from Theraflu and Lipton tea deal
-$3.00 RR from Neosporin Lip Health deal

Total = $20.59 received a $10RR

Transaction #4

Theraflu $3.99
Lipton tea $2.99
(2) Johnson body wash $7.98

-$2.00 mfr coupon on Theraflu
-$1.00 mfr coupon on Johnson body wash
-$1.00 mfr coupon on Johnson body wash
-$10.00 RR from Zyrtec deal

Total = $2.16 received a $4RR

Total OOP=$39.95 and I have a $4RR to use next visit.

Walgreens Week of 01/17/10 - 01/23/10

According to one of my favorite frugal websites A Thrifty Mom, here is this week's best deals at Walgreens.

Remember, you can use a Walgreens' coupon with a manufacturer's coupon at Walgreens. Also, if you are paying with Register Rewards (RR), you must always have the same number of items as you do coupons and RR. This does not include any coupons you have cut from the Walgreens weekly ad. That is why I had to use the Russell Stover truffel items I purchased last week in my two transactions. No, it did not have anything to do with my love of chocolate:)

Reading the entire Bible in one year

Around the last week in December, I asked my friend Christy if she would be interested in committing to reading the Bible through in 2010. She agreed to the challenge. I had purchased a Bible several years ago titled The One Year Bible which has each day's reading assignment so it is very easy to follow. I had chosen the New Living Translation because that is the translation I like to read. Christy prefers a different translation but found the listing of which verses to read each day here so that she can follow along. We have enjoyed this assignment as it gives us verses we can share with one another and discuss.

I challenge you to read along with us. I prefer to read my daily Bible readings in the morning as I enjoy my morning cup of coffee while Christy prefers to read in the evening. Which ever time you find in your busy schedules will be worth the effort. The Lord rejoices when we find the time to explore His Word.

As I mentioned in my Welcome blog, I find the Lord speaks to me at times with whispers so faint that I really have to be focused on Him to hear. The time I spend in the mornings in His Word, helps me to focus on what should be the most important thing in my life-my relationship with God.

Now sometimes He has to yell in my ear, but that is another story for another day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Winn Dixie Trip on January 16, 2010

Total shelf cost = $21.39
Total OOP = $ 6.80

Received coupon for $10/$50 order.

WD apple juice $.99
Oatmeal $2.69
Oatmeal free BOGO
SaraLee bread $2.79
SaraLee bread free BOGO
Baby carrots $2.50
Nectarines $2.83

-$1.00 coupon on Oatmeal (forgot to print two)
-$5.00 catalina coupon from Kraft deal (Look at previous post under Winn Dixie for details on this deal)

=$5.80 + 1.00 tax = $6.80

Received $10/$50 coupon on next order

My Walgreens Trip on January 16, 2010

Total shelf cost = $11.39
Total OOP = $ 5.71

Received $6.50 in Register Rewards

1st Transaction
Thermacare wrap $2.49
Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste $2.99
2-Russell Stover truffle heart 2/$1.00

- $1.00 coupon on Thermacare
- $1.00 coupon on toothpaste
- $ .22 in ad coupon on Russell Stover candy
- $2.00 RR from previous week
- $1.00 RR from previous week

Final Cost $1.26 + tax .53 = $1.79
Received $2.50 RR, $2.00 RR

2nd Transaction
Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste $2.99
Russell Stove truffle heart $ .59

- $.75 coupon on toothpaste
- $1.00 RR from previous week

Final Cost $1.83 + tax .30 = $2.13
Received $2.00 RR

Winn Dixie

Winn Dixie currently has the following deal now until 1/24/10:

Buy 5 Kraft Cheese & Dairy Products and get a $5.00 coupon off a future shopping order. All items must be purchased in one shopping order. Choose from the following: Kraft Singles, Kraft Parmesan Cheese, Kraft Natural Cheese (Chunks, Shredded, Crumbles (5 oz), Sticks and Cubes), Kraft String-UMS Cheese, Kraft Cracker Cuts Cheese, Kraft Deli Deluxe Cheese Slices, Philadelphia Ready-to-eat Cheesecake Filling, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Velveeta Cheese Product, Cracker Barrel Cheese, Cheese Whiz Process Cheese, Breakstone's Sour Cream, Breakstone's Cottage Cheese, Knudsen Sour Cream, and Knudsen Cottage Cheese.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Hello and welcome to Banking on a Budget! I am a wife, a mom, and a banker trying to save money while living on a budget. I have been couponing and budgeting for about two to three years now and hopefully can share some of my experiences with you so that we can both save together. I live in southeast Alabama and will be sharing deals on items I find from Troy to Dothan including national drug stores such as CVS and Walgreens. I also hope to share some tips on budgeting as well as information I have learned over my banking career as it pertains to household and personal finance. I will also be sharing my faith with you as the Lord whispers in my ear about things I should already know by now but am too stubborn to buy a pair of hearing aids!