A few months ago, I made a trip to Costco to do our monthly bulk shopping. As I walked to my car with a cart holding two precious children and their diapering and formula needs for the month, I was sick at my stomach. I had been previously shopping there every week or so to get formula, so the monthly cost hadn't quite been so obvious to me. The triple digit bill left me feeling hopeless; I didn't see how I could trim any more from our budget. I was only buying necessities and I still felt stretched to keep our budget intact.
So when our church offered a seminar called the "Centsible Shopper", I signed up immediately. I was desperate. Fortunately, God loves it when we get desperate before Him; He can do a mighty work in desperate hearts.
In those two-and-a-half hours, I learned that it was possible to trim my grocery bill. It would take work and planning to be a better steward of the money God has given us. But it was possible.
Holly taught us that, by using coupons, shopping sales, and strategically stockpiling, we would be able to reduce our grocery bill. So I commited to take a baby step and try it. For the month of March, I clipped coupons, filed them in a pink cancelled check organizer, and scoured the sale fliers for Publix. I started to read a few blogs with helpful tips, and I learned how to shop strategically at night while enjoying episodes of NCIS with Michael. And I prayed. A lot.
I prayed as I clipped the coupons. I prayed as I planned my menus and made my grocery list. I prayed as I would walk up to the checkout line, anxious about the bottom line. The Lord provided the knowledge of how to do this, but ultimately He is the provider of every meal we eat and every dollar we spend. I couldn't let this process be about me.
I expected to save a little - maybe twenty dollars a month. I was already shopping sales, buying store brands, and carefully planning our meals. But God is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine! I immediately saw a reduction of my weekly grocery bill by twenty dollars. With my target of spending fifty dollars or less each week, I've been able to not only feed our family... I've been able to stockpile items that we use often at rock-bottom prices. (For example, I have four large boxes of Cheerios in my pantry that each cost around a dollar; regular price for each box is $4.99.) And perhaps the most exciting thing is that we've been able to give away some of these groceries.
I've been shopping strategically for two months now. My stockpile is growing, and my grocery bill is shrinking. I am able to buy more items that we use at a higher quality (I'm able to get name-brand items significantly cheaper than store brand) for less money than I was spending two months ago. My grocery bill for the first week of May was $36.00. (The total value of my groceries was $84.00) My goal for the month of May is now to reduce my bill to $45 or less.
I share this because I know that there are others that would benefit from knowing that there is a better way. I've had friends face unemployment, and the economy is directly affecting Michael's business. Some of my friends are saving for a down payment on a house, or just trying to feed another precious little mouth. God is the giver of every penny and every circumstance, but I believe he wants us to consider our ways in all things.
I know that we were called to reevaluate our spending habits; perhaps you feel like you need to do the same. My friend Holly has recently launched a website (Michael designed it!), sharing her wisdom with a wider audience. If you're interested in learning more, check out The Centsible Shopper. It's worth a look... I promise!