One of my major goals for 2019, has been to learn to truly steward our finances and health well. I’m only 2 years into this wife thing, and less than 1 year into being a stay at home mom. My husband is hard at work running our home renovation business, and that makes finances, nutrition, and raising kiddos my primary focus in this season. I have noticed that stewarding my finances well, has meant different things to me in different seasons.
As a young single parent, I found that good financial management usually meant shopping sales, using coupons, and eating a lot of beans and rice. This ensured I would always have a little gas in my tank, fresh diapers for my son, and plenty of age-appropriate foods to appease his growing appetite. Now I look back on that season, and feel extreme pride knowing I did what it took to care for my son without relying on child support from an absent parent.
But times change…
Thankfully, this season I am not relying on my own abilities to raise children. I also have an amazing supportive partner who happens to be one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. This has allowed me to slowly make strides towards creating a healthy lifestyle for my family. I am striving towards eating an 80% organic diet by the end of 2019. Currently, approximately 60% of our diet is organic, this includes most of our meat, our grains, and fruits and vegetables. I’ve still not fully transitioned our dairy, or convenience foods like cereal over to organic. One of the first things I learned when making this transition is that…
couponing does not work for us anymore.
couponing does not work for us anymore. It is rare for weekly sales to include organic produce, dairy, and even rarer to find coupons for these items. When I initially prioritized saving money, I turned to coupons as that is what worked for me before. After collecting several weeks of sales papers though, I realized each Sunday newspaper cost more than I could save from the available coupons. The remedy to this, was not to give up on saving money, it was empowering myself with information!
My first organic compromise…
My first compromise for the sake of saving money, was to familiarize myself with the Environmental Working Group’s annual lists of “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen”. These annual lists are based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Report. The dirty dozen list, is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest concentration of pesticide residue. I do my best to not buy anything off of this list, unless it is organic. I have included an infograph below from the 2018 list, as 2019 has not yet been released.
Next, I familiarized myself with the list they called the clean fifteen. Each of the fruits and vegetables on this list have very low concentrations of pesticide residue. Some have even shown no pesticide residue on the edible insides! I almost never buy any item off of this list as organic unless the quality and ripeness is superior. This allows me to instantly save around $10 weekly.
Obviously, these lists help, but when you want to aggressively save money, a few dollars doesn’t feel like very much. This meant I had to find a new way to make up for the lack of organic coupons available. Which brings me to my next money saving tactic.
Getting paid to shop with Ibotta
I know, I know… If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I can’t stop preaching about the goodness of Ibotta. This is due to the fact that it has literally revolutionized how I shop for my family. It isn’t too different from coupons. However, instead of saving money at the register, you save money when you upload your receipt and claim rebates. They offer tons of rebates on health foods, and produce. A few rebates I’ve claimed just this month include organic dairy free yogurt, organic naval oranges, strawberries, and organic protein bars.
So far, we are three weeks into January and I have earned $33.38 just this month. This can be cashed out via PayPal, or Venmo, or applied to gift cards at places like Amazon. They also offer rebates on items like diapers, health and hygiene products, and anything else you can imagine! One of my favorite ways to earn cash back is by ordering from Amazon using Ibotta and getting a small percentage of cash back on each purchase.
They are currently running a promotion where you can earn $10 when you sign up using my referral link here and redeem your first rebate!
So, the savings are starting to add up, but what’s next?
My next favorite way to save money, is by taking a look at our additional grocery-store related expenses. Our grocery budget includes items like diapers, formula, personal hygiene, pet food, and paper products. Some of these items can’t be bought organic of course, but they all contribute to our well-being as a family.
I have made an effort to return to the practice of shopping at CVS for these items. I know drug stores are notoriously overpriced, however, CVS offers amazing savings that don’t even require you to clip coupons. the first thing you need to do, is sign up for their Extra Care Savings card, I recommend obtaining the card in-store, and immediately signing up for an online account. CVS sends weekly emails with ecoupons you can have sent to your card for savings on household items and even some groceries!
Next, check out their latest sales paper and focus in on the deals that offer “Extra Bucks Rewards”. These Extra Bucks, will print at the end of your receipt, and work like cash at CVS. Getting started can be incredibly confusing, I recommend visiting Southern Savers if you are new to saving money at CVS and following her “Scenario Ideas” listed under the weekly ad and deals she posts. This removes the guess work and can save you a ton of money on items you are already buying. When you have learned how to shop at CVS using her guide for a week or two, it will be extremely easy to create your own great savings scenarios.
This month so far, I have earned $41.89 at CVS using this method. I have purchased toilet paper, organic lotions, organic shampoos, and organic makeup, plus diapers using these savings!
What does all of this mean?
It means that three weeks into 2019, I have saved my family over $105.27 without compromising on our health. This savings does NOT include any additional discounts I have taken advantage of, like 25% off organic grains in the bulk bins at Sprouts, or BOGO cereals, and organic juices I have purchased at Publix. I am extremely proud of that number, especially considering I pulled it off without clipping any coupons!
The heart behind good stewardship of our finances and health.
My regular readers know that my husband and I are in ministry school. We have a massive desire to love and serve others well. It can be extremely difficult to love what matters when your finances or health are suffering. We can’t give what we don’t have. So, it only makes sense that we place a high priority on fueling our bodies in a healthy way, and saving income. Full disclosure, we currently have two car loans, and that means debt. This month, I don’t look at $105.27 and think of it as money saved, I think of it as money earned. That’s over a hundred dollars more that we can pay on our vehicles. My weekly grocery trips this month have been no more than 2 hours each, so 6 hours this month so far. That means even being a stay at home mom, I am able to earn a bit over $17.50 an hour, just by serving my family. That’s more than enough motivation considering it’s a weekly task to be completed anyways!
What unconventional ways have you found to save money without compromising your health? I’d love to learn more in the comments below!