February 19, 2011

No Spend Month - A Successful Failure

I love the movie Apollo 13. Perhaps it is because I remember when this actually happened. I was 15 at the time and I remember all the news reports and updates. Apollo 13 was called a "Successful failure." This mission was considered a failure because they failed to complete their mission and a success because the astronauts were able to return to earth and didn't lose their lives.
I am having a Successful Failure No Spend Month.

When I started this month I wondered what I would do if I came across some good deals at the grocery store. In January of 2010 I participated in an “Eating from the Pantry Month” and I stuck to it and only spent $160.00. There were many sales that month but I passed on them as I knew those same sales would come around in another 6 weeks.

I can't say the same this time around. Prices are going up and by the end of the year they are predicting that food prices will be sky high. It’s not just food prices. It’s everything. So this month when I encountered a sale I decided that I just couldn't pass on any sales. Many things came to mind such as this product is on sale at this price right now and I may never get it again at this price.

I wanted to save $200 extra this month and next month for a total of $400 by April 1st. We're not experiencing an emergency, but I wanted to see if I could save some extra money to replenish the amount of money we took out of our savings account to pay the $500 deductible on our car insurance. We put money into our savings account every pay day but I wanted to surprise my husband and cut back and make an extra deposit to our savings account.

Okay – now that I have stated my case, made my excuses and validated it, you know what is coming next so I might as well get to what I spent money on this week.

I need some new running shoes. I buy running shoes for walking and for working out. My old shoes were showing some wear and also they were not giving my feet as much support as they used to. I knew I could probably put off purchasing new shoes to next month that is until I came across a great deal this week at a local store. I was able to get the New Balance shoes that I like on sale for $39.98. They are regularly priced $60.00. I couldn’t pass this sale up. I always ask myself these questions: Is this a need? Yes. Is this a good sale? Yes. Can I afford this at this moment or in other words, do I have the cash for this purchase? Yes. Will there be another sale or a better sale prior to when I had planned to purchase this item? I don’t know. What I did know was that prices are going up on everything and this was a $20.00 savings. I decided to buy the shoes.

I stopped by a grocery store for some milk and I asked a store employee about food prices. He said that obviously prices had gone up but he told me that I should expect prices to go up a lot more. He warned me that by the end of the year we will be paying quite a bit more on food. I learned that due to bad weather in various areas of the country, lettuce and tomatoes will be going sky high. I will probably find a place in my yard this summer to grow leaf lettuce and tomatoes.

There aren’t as many animals going to market so the supplies are low while the need is high. Droughts in Russia and bad crops in China along with the floods in Australia and the flooding in the Midwest last summer have affected the crops and thus our food supplies.  Already I have seen many of the normal staples I buy at the grocery store go up anywhere between 15% and 18%.  Gasoline this week has gone up 13 cents a gallon.

That was Thursday.

So, I decided that while putting more money in savings is a great idea, so is saving money on the front end on groceries.

Here were the sales in the grocery store this week. To begin with, they had bone in chicken breasts for 88 cents a lb. I have only ever, and I mean ever, seen these for 99 cents a lb. about three times a year. These are two large chicken breasts with the bone. Each weighs about 2 lbs. and will feed the 3 of us for one meal, with some leftovers. Even though these are bone in, there is a lot of meat on these pieces. I bought 20 lbs. This sale was a sale that was definitely intended to get customers into the store. I got to that store when it opened at 8:00 a.m. and the parking lot was filling up.

At the same store they had all their Kellogg’s cereals on sale at 50% off. While other stores may mark up the price so that the 50% off isn’t such a good deal, this store does not do that. I had coupons for these cereals. Normally I would pay around $1.00 a box or less on a sale and with coupons. Prices have indeed gone up so if I can get these cereals for $1.50 or less, than it is a great deal. I was able to buy plain Shredded Wheat – a large 24 oz. box for only $1.50. I also bought Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats and Special K along with some more sugary options such as Corn Pops and Cocoa Pebbles.

Another store had soy sauce on sale for $1.00. This bottle is normally around $1.75. I love soy sauce. I pour it over a pork roast and add some bay leaves and garlic for a tasty meal. They also had 100% whole wheat bread (1 lb. loaf) on sale for 99 cents, 1 doz. large eggs was 99 cents. I was able to get a few more lbs. of butter for $1.99, fresh red peppers were $1.29 each, 4 lb. bags of granulated sugar were $2.39 and my favorite Salmon fillets were $3.99 a lb. I also was able to get 8 cans of organic tomato paste for only 49 cents.

All of the above were good deals and I had coupons. The question I put to myself is this. With food prices going up, will I ever see these items again at these sales prices? Would I regret not purchasing these sales items? I decided that I will probably not see these sales prices again and I would definitely regret not taking advantage of these sales.

We are not in an emergency situation in our household as to this challenge. In other words, my hubby is not unemployed and we are not facing a tremendous financial crisis at the moment.

Also, I got good news when I called the doctor’s office yesterday and found out that the medical bill I received in the mail had not had the insurance applied to it. Instead of $285.00 we owed only $12.95.

That was Friday.

So as things stand right now, I will not meet my goal of $200 extra to go to savings this month. Instead I will end up with half that amount by the end of the month. I tallied up what I have spent so far on groceries for the month and it is coming out to my normal budgeted amount for groceries.

It is good to have a challenge. After all I have cut back in some areas and I was able to save a little more to put in our savings account so far along with what we would normally put in savings each month. Also, this challenge has been good for me as I have really thought about the items I am purchasing. I’ve asked myself questions along the way.

Yes, I would definitely describe this challenge for me as being a Successful Failure and a very good learning experience.


Maureen said...

I missed out on a really good deal in our local Woolworths store, they had reduced some of the ground mince down by more than 50% because some young trainee had made up too many packs, so I bought one left the store, turned round and decided to go back in for more and of course they had sold out. I,m still kicking myself.

I dont see this as a failure at all Martha I think you are doing an awesome job with the family budget, does it make any difference if it is food or insurance it is all money saved....

Sharon said...

I would have to disagree with you, I wouldn't say this was a failure at all!!! I think it's great that you were able to get those sales, and it's going to help with the food bill in the next coming months! Also, you were still able to save money! WIN, WIN. Great job!!!

Martha said...

Maureen and Sharon - Thanks for sharing. I am feeling successful with the budget and although I have spent more on the food I have purchased on sale, I am feeling good about saving some extra money this month.

I'm inspired by your posts on your blogs.