product woes

$478.84

That’s how much money we spent on food last month (August). No wonder my Target jeans are fitting tighter! I was shocked when I saw the numbers. I had set our goal around $300, so we went wayyy overboard, as in we were drowning in food. But, this month we’ve had house guests two different weekends, and so I’ve cooked more and we’ve eaten out more than usual. I keep telling myself this to ease the pain in my heart.

I signed up on http://www.mint.com/ after a suggestion from Monica, a sweet blog reader. And let me tell you, Monica knows what she’s talking about! If you’ve never looked at Mint, I would totally recommend at least checking it out. It’s a way to manage your money, set budgets, and analyze your spending, and most importantly, it’s FREE! Some online banking sites probably have similar tracking information, but I found that Mint’s data is more easy to interpret than my online banking site. I’m still learning how to use the site, but so far, its really been an eye-opener for me.

One of the biggest shockers for me is how much money I spend on ‘products’. By products, I mean toiletries, cleaning supplies, household goods, and random odds and ends, like Ziploc bags and aluminum foil. These ‘products’ have easily been a $75-100 a month bill. And what is most annoying is that I run out of all of these ‘products’ at different times. So for instance, we’ll run out of shampoo, toothpaste, and a couple of other items, so I’ll go and buy some. And then 2 days later, we’re out of toilet paper and soap. So back to the store I go. I feel like I’m making these quick little shopping trips at least twice a week, and I always end up buying more than I went for. That really adds up!

So I’ve got another question for you, dear readers.

How much money, per month, do you estimate you spend on ‘products’, such as household goods, toiletries, and cleaning supplies?

What tips/tricks do you have for cutting back the costs of your ‘products’?

I’m on a mission for September to spend no more than $50. Here’s what I’m doing:

*Make some of my own cleaning products. Aryn provided some wonderful recipes for homemade cleaners that I’m going to try. So far, I’ve used the microwave cleaner, and it worked like.a.charm.
*Check my brands. There are some name brands that I just can’t part with, like my Dove deo. But, there are other brands I can do without. I recently switched to Suave Professionals Rosemary Mint shampoo, and I LOVE it! We’re saving at least $3 a bottle on shampoo now.
*Do a house check before shopping. This is something I should have been doing all along. Before I go to the store for any shopping, I’m doing a house check for anything and everything I anticipate needing. If we’ve only got 5 rolls of toilet paper left, I’ll go ahead and get more. Hopefully this will help limit my shopping trips and thus cut down on impulsive or unnecessary buys.
*Take advantage of couponing and store deals. I stocked up on toothpaste at a B1G1 (buy 1 get 1 sale) at CVS recently. I got 6 tubes for the price of 3.

So, tell me about you! How much are you spending? Any tips for cutting back? Wanna join me on a product spending challenge this month? Do share!

*********************

By the way, I was uploading pictures from an old camera from over a year ago last night, because I’m diligent like that, and stumbled upon this beauty. This is what I looked like exactly one year from today:

Despite several offers from Sports Illustrated,  I decided it would not be in my best interest to pose for their September 2010 Swimsuit Edition issue. I’m afraid I would have been a little too classy for that ; )

Have a blessed weekend 🙂

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