Family Living 4 Less

Saving Money Without the Sacrifice!

Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Budget Update: It’s working!!!

Posted by flsquared on November 2, 2009

As you may remember, my family started living on a budget shortly after moving to Manhattan.  This has been a tough adjustment for us as we are not at all used to tracking expenses, but it has definitely been eye-opening.

In the budget, we only included my husband’s base salary as we are hoping to save his bonus outright.  Our hope is to save 10% of the post-tax base salary, but we will be happy if we just break even and don’t touch our savings or his bonus.

Here’s how we’re doing:

August:          saved 9.7%
September:   saved 13.4% (!!!)
October:        overspent 1%


On the upside, we are net saving about 7% which is not too bad.

Additionally, we also made some big purchases this month like a membership to the Children’s Museum and NYC Rec Center as well as a big $225 application fee for Victor’s preschool next year.  We should definitely save some money this month as we went crazy buying food (nearly $600 this month) at the local grocery store’s huge Columbus Day sale.  Our cupboards, fridge, and freezer are bursting at the seams.

On the whole, I do think that tracking our expenses and being accountable to them is working. It’s difficult to spend money consciously, but it sure does help!

Wish us luck that we get back into the black next month!!


Posted in budget, frugal, money, saving money, simple living | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mama’s Challenge: Can I buy a baby gift without purchasing anything else?

Posted by flsquared on October 22, 2009

Gymboree is having a 60% off sale on baby and kiddie clothes.  And I have a 20% coupon that a friend gave me to further discount the sale!

Awesome, right?

Except we don’t really need anything right now.  Well, that’s not exactly true–I could stock up on next fall’s clothing for my oldest.  However, my in laws will be in town in just 2 months and have already mentioned that they would like to buy the boys some clothes.

So we don’t need anything.

Except my Super just had a baby boy last weekend and we need to buy them a small gift.  Since they already have everything from their oldest (except in pink!), I thought I would get them a little outfit.

I entered Gymboree, kids in tow, impressed that they were actually content to hang out in the stroller while I shopped.  I found the PERFECT little outfit for the new baby, as well as a few things for my boys.  Luckily, I forgot my wallet, so I put ONLY the gift on reserve to come back later and pick it up.

The next day I stroll by and am welcomed by a huge line.  However, this is the only time that I can pick up the clothes so I stick it out…  And I start checking out little outfits here and there while in line.  Oh, the agony!!!!  Seriously, what is it about baby and toddler clothes that makes you want to buy everything even when you have more than you need?  I even check out the girls’ outfits and fawn over them!!!  (I sometimes wonder if they spray hormones in the air to make you baby-crazy).

I am happy to report that I only purchased the gift and nothing else.  Not even socks.  Not even shoes for next season (my weakness).

Do you have any tricks to avoid purchasing extra items when you are buying a gift?  I would love to hear them (as I think I got lucky this time!!!)

Posted in baby, budget, frugal, saving money, shopping, simple living | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Re-thinking our Grocery Shopping Habits

Posted by flsquared on March 4, 2009

After spending most of this cold, cold winter either sick or lethargic, my husband and I decided to take a second look at how we were fueling our bodies.

Granted, having a newborn and an 18 month old can run anyone ragged. Piling on top of that the stress of Grad School, looking for a job, and not seeing the sun for days on end can make anyone want to spend the day in bed. Unfortunately, our sons do not give us the choice.

We found that most days we were eating meat twice a day. Good, lean meat, like chicken or pork, but still meat. And many times we were so hungry from all of the day’s activity, we would eat several portions at one sitting.

We also did a lot of “impulse” grocery shopping.  Mostly by being unprepared for a recipe, or just “craving” a certain dish.

This was taking a toll on our bodies and our pocketbook. We were spending upwards of $20-$25/day on groceries! (Now, this does include wine, diapers, our weekly take-out pizza, etc).

Oscar had been fantastic at taking care of me while I was pregnant and doing much of the cooking and grocery shopping. However, now that our youngest was 3 months old and I had recovered from the birth, it was time for me to take it back over.

I decided that I would try to get our grocery spending down from $600-750/month down to $450/month. Here’s the catch–We actually had to eat more healthy foods, and I didn’t want us to feel as if we were sacrificing.

The approach:

  • coupons (I don’t have much time to dedicate to this, but I figured if I saved a couple of dollars/week, I would at least pay for the newspaper)
  • buy what’s on sale
  • spend one day/week cooking 2-3 meals to freeze and nuke for the following week(s) for when Oscar gets home late and we are both exhausted
  • increase our intake of fresh (or frozen) fruits and veggies
  • still have our evening glass of wine with dinner
  • still have take out once/week (if we would like)

Will this work?  I’ll keep posting what is working and what is not.  

I will give you a hint….I started this 3 weeks ago and we’ve already decreased our spending 15% (or $17/day).  We’ll see if I can keep it up!

Posted in food, groceries, saving money, shopping | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Give me a break! … from spending money, that is.

Posted by flsquared on February 28, 2009

In my mid-twenties, I moved to Spain for 3 years.  I thought that Europe would be different, but I didn’t expect such a culture shock.  

One of the things that I remember distinctly was how difficult it was to grocery shop.  Our work schedule was from 9-7, but we seldom left before 7:30 or 8.  By the time I got home after a 45 minute metro ride, it was 9pm and the grocery stores were closed.  The biggest challenge for me was that nearly everything was closed on Sunday.  If I didn’t get my shopping done on Saturday (or leave work at a decent hour one evening), I was out of luck.

While it is definitely more convenient here in the US, there is something to be said about not being able to shop on Sundays.  It forces you to slow down and spend time with your friends and family once a week.  It forces you to recognize that you don’t need to shop every day.  How cool is that?

I challenge everyone to take a break from shopping once a week.  If that’s not possible, try once every two weeks or even just once a month.  After it becomes habit, you won’t even miss it!

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