Go to fullsize imageI am in a quandary.  Like many of you readers, I am a SAHM with multiple children.  We have one main income with lots of outcome (aka: expenses).  Tomas and I have consistently struggled with our grocery budget.  What’s too much?  What’s unrealistically small?  How often should we shop?  How can we eat healthy on a strict budget?  etc. etc.  You have all heard the drill, I am sure. 

In order to get a little better grasp on this, I have taken the advice of many fellow moms who are much better budgetors than I and joined a coupon website.  It’s called Savings Angel.  (I previously did The Grocery Game, but found it to be a little harder to deal with.)  These coupon matching sites are great! They match up the local store ads with the coupons that are in your paper.  The idea being that you stock up on things when they are really dirt cheap instead of paying an arm and a leg for it.  It has really helped our grocery bill to shop this way.  We have cut our bill in half.  Not hard since we really didn’t shop on any a good budget before.

Here’s the problem…I just have so much stuff.  I have been stocking up for a few months on all these items for very little money.  Some of them are even free or I have ended up getting money back for them.  I have given some stuff away, but yet when I look in my basement pantry (otherwise known as my kitchen overflow).  I am appalled.  I counted 18 cereal boxes as of today’s shopping trip.  How does that happen?  And let’s not forget the bathroom!  I don’t even know how many tubes of free toothpaste or lotions are up there.  All of it for free or at least for under a dollar.  How can you say no?

This whole process has troubled me a little bit.  When should you say when?  When is a really great deal, really not necessary?  It’s hard to say no.  It’s hard to have limits.  Come on, you might think….it was free.  You can’t pass that up.  Well, I think that I need to.  For several reasons.  One being, it’s wasteful.  Things may just get buried in my stock piles and never come out because it’s just too much to sort through when I am busy.  Do I have time to do spread sheets to keep track of my stock?  No, I am too busy entertaining a clown troupe.  Therefore, I need to simplify and stop creating these shelves of “free to a good home” items.  Before I grab that next free lotion, I need to ask “Will I use this in the next couple months?”  If not, I will slap my greedy hand away from that lucious lubricant.  How embarrassing is it that we think of ourselves as just “getting by” when we have stockpiles of goods?

My second big struggle with this is the “greening” of my home.  I have to think that every person who is stockpiling these items are seemingly increasing the demand for any product that continuously has coupons.  Jergens Body Lotion is just an example.  I have a couple bottles of this upstairs.  I am trying to do what’s best for my family and the environment, and yet I am bringing all sorts of perfumes, dyes and chemicals into their diets and personal care because I am stockpiling.  Here’s Jergens safety analysis from Skin Deep.  Some people may not be concerned with this but I am.  I am trying to keep everyone in our house healthy and “green”.  Would I have 2 bottles of this lotion in my home if it weren’t for my organized hoarding?  No, I would have waited until I really needed lotion.  I would have made one trip to a store and bought one bottle of natural lotion.  That’s it.  No multiple trips to multiple stores to get the best price on something that’s not totally healthy for us.  It’s the same for the food items too.  It’s very hard to eat healthy produce/meats when you are trying to stick to a tight budget.  There’s never coupons for fresh fruits and veggies.  Only chips, sugar laden breakfast bars, and crazy new chocolatey cereals.  You can probably begin to imagine how this second issue has so many levels to be considered.  My mind spins when I think of all that could be considered in this category.

However, with all the negatives, I still value the money saved in our budget.  We live a good life.  We have nice things.  We eat well.  We smell good and have controlled body hair (thanks to all the free razors).  But I have cancelled the my paid subscriptions to these sites.  I am forging ahead on my own.  I will still shop a sale and use coupons.  Oh, I will guarantee you that.   That’s the positive side, I have educated myself in budgeting and smart shopping.  But I will also revert back to my greenie ways and stay true to my values as a responsible consumer and parent.  It’s just all too much.

“Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.”

John McConnell, founder of International Earth Day

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

Gaylord Nelson    former governor of Wisconsin, co-founder of Earth Day