Another area that we can easily work within a small budget is with our groceries. Right now we are very blessed to have a well stocked pantry along with two full freezers. I keep one of the smaller chest freezers in our garage which holds quite a bit and the freezer on our side by side refrigerator is pretty crammed even after working for a month to clear some of that stuff out of there. We did a good job, but we still have a lot to do.
This year, in an endeavor to spend less, I am challenging myself to use up what we have and then mindfully spend smaller amounts each week on new items. I employ a lot of different strategies to help me buy more and spend less at the grocery store.
I sign up for the grocery store rewards card. The stores send me special offers for reduced price items and quite often free ones. Albertson's allows me to stock rewards points for each dollar spent that I can redeem for free items too while Fred Meyer (Kroger) offers me a free item every Friday and also mails me free item coupons.
About every six weeks I get Kroger coupons in the mail. I also download digital coupons from the store websites. Most of the time when an item goes on sale I'm able to pair it with either a paper coupon or a digital one I've already downloaded. Coupons.com is also another good place to print out paper coupons.
I check the sales ads every week to see if there is anything I need or want and take advantage of the loss leader items (items that are often on sale below cost) to stock up my food storage. Then I match those sales items with any coupons I might have and make up a list. Shopping with a list is vital to me in order to save money.
I look for markdown items frequently, especially on meat, cheese, produce and bakery items. I seldom buy anything unless it is on sale or markdown.
Lastly I track my spending. I keep a separate budget for food and nonfood items and I track those purchases on a spreadsheet so I know what I've spent and how much I have left so I don't go over budget. Tracking my spending also helps me to evaluate my purchasing habits and look for ways to improve. I find there is always room for improvement and I work on it every time I plan a list and shop.