LIVE: $30 Shopping Cart Challenge

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Hello again everyone! Lately I’ve been seeing a few pins on pinterest about shopping cart challenges and sticking to a budget. I’ve seen people doing a $30 shopping cart challenge for a family of four. So, since I’m trying to save money anyway I can, and since I’m only one person, I decided if they can do it, so can I! I’m only one person, and I don’t eat any more than a normal person but I like to buy organic and have some brands I prefer over others. I also usually let myself have one splurge per trip, whether it’s something new in the organic section I want to try, or a pack of Oreos. In the past, I’ve usually tried not to go over $40/wk but never really stressed if I went over.

Another thing I do religiously is to use my credit card to pay for everything, even though I think of it more like a debit card since I pay it off every month. This is a huge no-no when budget grocery shopping because it does allow you to go over. If you take an envelope of cash and end up going $5 over at the register, you have to put something back. If you’re using a card, you just swipe anyway and maybe vow to spend less next week (which probably doesn’t happen). Since I have a card that gives me miles for purchases, I rarely use cash because it doesn’t give me miles. So I’m doing the challenge with a credit card, even though I’ll have to really be careful not to go over.

I did the challenge at my local Pay-Less Store (a Kroger Affiliate). Since I shop there a lot, I’ve got a general idea of what prices are. I also get their weekly sales in the mail so I know what’s on sale. They have a great 10/$10 promotion, which they always have, but you don’t have to buy 10 items to get the $1 price for each item. Some of the items in the promotions aren’t really good deals, but some are.

I also have the store loyalty card (all Krogers and affiliates have this), which is free to get and an absolute must if you’re shopping there (the prices listed are usually for card-members and a higher, less noticeable price is for non card-holders). You can also download e-coupons directly to your card and every Friday they give out a freebie coupon, but you only have a day to download it (but longer to actually use it). I’m not sure how long that will last, but I’m taking full advantage of it. This is great because I tend to leave paper coupons at home or entirely forget about them in my wallet! You can’t use an e-coupon with a paper coupon though, so that’s one minus if you’ve managed to find a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon. The card  also allows you to earn fuel points (1 point for every dollar you spend). Accumulate 100 in a month and you get $0.10 off gas! This moth you get double fuel points for shopping on weekends so I’m actually getting a discount this month. (Sorry for rambling on about the card, but it’s a key component for this shopping trip!)

My strategy was to make a list of things I needed and write down what I could spend on each item (only in dollars, I didn’t bother with cents), I counted it all and reached about $29 so I didn’t add anything else to the list. I then held the list in my hand throughout the store.

I also used a basket instead of a cart so it’d be harder to add unnecessary things. This was good in theory but I didn’t take into account the weight of the things I needed and I was afraid the handles on the basket would break before the end (and I even carried the milk instead of putting it in the basket).

Onto what I actually bought:

2 half gallons of 2% milk: $0.99 each (Weekly sale price made 2 half gallons cheaper than 1 gallon)Kroger brand frozen peas and carrots: $1.00 (10/$10)
Kroger shredded cheese: $2.18
Bluebonnet Butter (small tub): $1.50
1.42 lbs tomatoes on vine at 2.19/lb: $3.115 organic bananas: $1.18
1 extra large Hass avocado: $1.69
Kroger black beans: $0.69
Kroger Restaurant style tortilla chips: $1.00 (10/$10)
4-pack of large potatoes: $1.99
3-pack of romaine hearts: $1.99
Kroger large eggs: $1.98

Clear brand hair conditioner: FREE with e-coupon
Colgate 4.6 oz toothpaste: FREE with e-coupon
Kroger cotton swabs: $2.14

TOTAL: $22.57

Verdict: I got highly frustrated at my self check-out line for these reasons:
-The avocado sale sign said it was only $0.99, but was really $1.69
-I must’ve read the produce scale wrong for the tomatoes, thinking they’d only be about $2,  instead of $3.19
-The e-coupons I had took awhile to come off (I almost called the attendant over to take off the Clear conditioner as it was 5.99 without the coupon and I didn’t need it)
-Several items were over my pre-established limit, but since my list was pretty short and I will be using these items to complement items I already had, I decided to get them all anyway.

It turned out my frustrations and worrying were for nothing, as after I hit “pay” the magical number of $22.57 appeared, and since I had expected to be over budget, I was very surprised!

And some of you may have trouble thinking of menus with this, but there are lots of possibilities! (This takes into consideration things I already had like rice and tortillas, as well as what I bought)

-Fried rice (rice, frozen peas/carrots, eggs, sesame oil, garlic)
-Nachos Supreme (tortilla chips, seasoned black beans, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, avocado and anything else you have on hand or like)
-Egg, cheese and ham scramble or omelet with toast
-Salads (lettuce, tomato, cheese, dressing, whatever else you have or like)
-Banana and/or strawberry smoothies
-Black bean and cheese quesadilla or burrito
-Mashed potatoes and veggies
-Baked potato (with any number of toppings)
-Tostadas with a fried egg, mashed black beans, cheese and avocado
-Rice and beans
-Whatever else you can think of!

I’d say my first $30 challenge was a success, look for more challenges in the future 🙂

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