Monday, January 26, 2009

Lets talk generic

Sorry I have been MIA lately. Luke has decided to crawl and I can't keep up with him. But it's wonderful.

What does generic mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary generic means:

relating to or characteristic of a whole group or class : general b: being or having a non-proprietary name <generic drugs> c: having no particularly distinctive quality or application <generic restaurants> me it means savings!

Generic brands have saved our budget. I try to buy generic as much as I can from food, prescription drugs, cleaning supplies and baby products.

There are some name brand products that I am brand loyal to - Pampers diapers and Kraft American Cheese Singles 2% or example. You don't have to buy everything generic especially if you see a difference.

My favorite generic brands:

Every time I go grocery shopping I find another food product made by Roundy's. They even make organic products. If I have coupons for brand products I have noticed that the Roundy's product still seems less expensive. There are some products that I buy brand over Roundy's. One example is Kraft American Cheese. If I would suck it up and buy Roundy's American Cheese over Kraft I would save over $2 a package. Other Roundy items that I buy:
  • Olive Oil
  • Canned olives
  • Butter
  • Cereal
  • Tuna
  • Lunch Meat
  • Tortilla Shells
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • English Muffins
  • Sour Cream
  • Cottage Cheese
My understanding is that Roundy's is sold specifically at Pick 'N Save stores. But I know other grocery stores have their own generic brand. For example Piggly Wiggly's generic brand is Food Club.

I save $120 a month on baby formula. I buy the Target brand versus Enfamil. I asked my Doctor about the difference and the important ingredients that make the product are the same. $120 a month is a lot of money. Another major price difference - gas drops for infants. Some of the brand names are as high as $8, the Target brand is about $3.50. Other Target items that I buy and save a significant amount of money:
  • Mouthwash
  • Vitamins
  • Ibuprofen
  • Allergy medicine (Same ingredients as Claritin)
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Kleenex
  • Paper Towels
  • Coffee Filters
  • Garbage bags, sandwich bags, tin foil and plastic wrap
  • Food
Take advantage of your store's discount cards
This seemed obvious to me but I was surprised to find out how many people do not sign up and get their grocery store's discount cards. It's free and it's easy! I save an average of $15 per grocery shopping trip when I use my card. This is not counting the money I save buying generic.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Non-budget related.

This is a non-budget post, although the clothes the kids are wearing are from second hand stores! Each outfit was a total of $6.

Both kids are sitting up as you can see in this Video and they both have two bottom teeth.

That is all, Anna and Luke just wanted to say hi!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Second hand stores

When you find out you are pregnant, the first thing many women want to do is go out and start buying all the cute clothes. And trust me, there are sooooo many adorable clothes out there. Not like the nasty orange and brown clothes we grew up with.


Especially if you are going to have a shower. I resisted the urge, even though it's hard. Your babies are going to grow fast the first couple months. You are going to get all these wonderful and cute clothes from your showers, your family members and friends. Most likely your baby won't even wear some of the clothes they receive. I bought two oneies before the twins were born. That's it. Believe me, it was so hard to walk by all the cute clothes at Babies R Us. But we were blessed with three showers and our family and friends were very generous. Some of the clothes we received were only worn once.

What is my point?

Your kids grow fast. Do you really need to spend $20-$30 on an outfit they may wear once? Sure, it's fun to buy the cute clothes but let me offer you an alternative. Second hand stores

I don't understand why some people are afraid or refuse to buy clothes from second hand stores. Is it because another child might have worn the clothes a couple times? I say might because I have bought many clothes from second hand stores with the original tags on them. Brand new Baby Gap and Ralph Lauren baby clothes for a 1/4 of the price.

Here are some examples of my deals that I got at one store in particular, New to you kids.

  • Brand new Polo Ralph Lauren khaki jacket for Luke with the store tags. Originally $25, I bought for $4.75
  • Brand new Baby Gap wool sweater for Luke with the store tags. Originally $19.99, I bought for $3.75
  • Brand new Tommy Hilfiger jeans for Luke. Originally $18.99, I bought for $4.75.
  • Snugli soft carrier - one slightly used, one never used. Both cost about $35-40, I bought for $12 each.
  • Baby Gap suede winter jacket for Anna originally priced around $40, my mom got it for $10.
  • Long sleeve onesies - usually run anywhere from $1.25 - $3
  • Short sleeve oneies - usually run anywhere from $1 - $3.

You get the picture. Plus they buy back your clothes. And they don't take junk. They are particular about what they buy back so you know you are going to get nice clothes.

My point? The kids grow out of their clothes so fast it just makes sense to buy slightly used or never used at all clothes. We have saved so much money. A lot of these stores offer more that just clothes. You can get books, DVDs, toys, bedding, cribs, pack-n-plays, high chairs, and soft pack carriers, plus much more.

Just have an open mind when it comes to second hand stores. Trust me, it's worth it!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Start a budget

This may seem obvious but you would be surprised at how many people do not have a budget. Make sure your budget is on an excel spreadsheet, word document, piece of paper or other computer program, not just in your head.

**Before I go any further I must confess that I never had a budget until I met my husband. He is anal with the budget. We update it every night. Everything must be recorded, even the 75 cents we spend at a vending machine. There is even a dead weight category for parking tickets and ATM fees. If it wasn't for the budget, I would not be able to stay at home with the twins.

Our budget:
If you already have a budget, you can stop reading, scroll down and look at the cutest kids in the world. If you don't have a budget and would like to start, I will describe how our budget works.
Our budget is on excel and my husband has all the bells and whistles on it: Formulas, charts, graphs, colors etc. The first thing you need to do is determine how much money you bring in each month. Our monthly income is my husband's paycheck after taxes, health insurance and 401k. Then create categories where you spend money. Our categories include:
  • Auto (gas, insurance, payments, car washes)
  • Home (Mortgage, rent, electric, gas, home improvements)
  • Connectivity (Cell phones, Internet, phone)
  • Debt maintenance (School loans, credit cards if any)
  • Groceries
  • Liquor
  • Entertainment
  • Eating Out
  • Medical
  • Charity (Includes church for us)
  • Misc. (Big category for us. Includes our trips to Target where I buy diapers, formula, cleaning supplies etc. This category could be broken down into smaller ones)
  • Clothes
  • Investments (IRAs, savings)
After your categories are established, you need to put a dollar amount to each category on what you can spend. The easiest way is to determine the bills you have to pay - mortgage, car, gas, electrical and so on. Then figure out how much you can pay towards your debt and investments. Whatever money you have leftover each month can then be divided into the other categories. Obviously give yourself more money in areas that are more important. For example, we establish our entertainment and eating out budgets last.

Your next step is projections. My husband has the spreadsheet project out a month. We then fill in the mandatory amounts and when they are paid. He has a running total based off of income and as we fill in projected payments it shows us what our balance will be. This is helpful when we schedule hair appointments or want to make a big purchase, we know when we can afford to do it.

Whew. Make sense?

Let me know if you have any questions. I'm going to try to get a copy of the spreadsheet up on the site so you can see what it looks like.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What is the focus of the blog?

When I started this blog, I was newly married, working full time and living downtown in a big city. Well, I guess you can call it big. We were very fortunate to have full time careers, many friends, the ability to come and go, take vacations, participate in sports and other activities and take part in the many events being held in Milwaukee. But my life changed through the years and so has my blog. I wanted a family and it didn't come easy. I was very open about our infertility struggles and while it was hard to be open about our troubles, I can't believe the support we received from so many people out "there." It really made our journey a lot easier. And now we have been blessed with the most beautiful children. As of late, my blog has mainly been bragging about how cute the twins are. But I want the blog to be more.

Before our children were born, my husband and I were pretty much debt free (besides mortgage and car payments), we had two good jobs, we were stocking money away in savings and 401ks and we were able to have a nice dinner out, take a vacation, buy some nice clothes etc. But now we have two children and are living on one income. I have had to be creative with our food budget, kids budget and overall household budget. I've come across other people's good ideas, websites, coupons and just my general ideas to make this successful.

My thoughts are to share these budget saving ideas. Not just for the kids but for an overall household. I also plan to share some of my ideas on raising two children (twins). Things that I have experienced, made mistakes on and have had success on. I would also like you to share any ideas that you have with me and the rest of the readers.

I still plan to talk about the twins (of course!), my family, discuss news etc.

I hope this is a success. Thank you loyal readers!