This Week's $80 Budget and How Couponing Makes Even Buying Toilet Paper Fun


Buying toilet paper is one of those things everyone is supposed to hate. The whole concept of relies on us hating to go to the store for toilet paper. Now, you are probably about to laugh at me rather than with me, but listen up: This week I had a great time buying toilet paper.

For me, couponing and deal hunting transforms shopping from a chore into a game, and this week was a perfect example. We were almost out of bog rolls, as my British friend used to call them (I guess he still does but since he and his bog rolls are over there we don't get the chance to discuss such matters anymore.)

I used my gift card to order more, and wondered if our supply would hold out until the shipment arrived.

Then I stopped into our local Centrella store, Pan's, to get some cheap organic produce. Lo and behold, they had a 24-pack of Angel Soft (same brand I'd just ordered) on the clearance shelf for $3.99 because it was no longer a 24-pack. Someone had torn it open and, what, stolen two rolls?* Or maybe it just accidentally broke open and the rolls that hit the ground were lost or transferred to the employee restroom.

I had $1/1 Internet printable coupons for Angel Soft in my coupon file, but I was nervous. The manager (owner?) of this store had once vehemently denied me the opportunity to use a coupon on a clearance item. I don't understand why, since her store should still get reimbursed for the coupon value, but she didn't want me to.

Looking at the TP coupons in my file, it occurred to me that I had never checked to see if this store carried single rolls of Marcal toilet paper -- I had five "one free" coupons from the 1/3 SmartSource but had never seen them in any of my stores.

They DID have the single rolls! I had no idea if the store would give me guff about those coupons. So the whole thing was like, a totally exciting battle. I was a coupon warrior, with my Baby Bjorn armor and my trusty 5-year-old second at my side.

I boldly laid my broken bag of TP and my five individually wrapped rolls on the conveyer belt and handed over my coupons. And ... no problem! Coupons scanned, transaction completed!

This was pretty much the high point of my weekend.

As for the rest of the week's shopping, I didn't feel like going much since there weren't many great deals. I spent $15.67 at Pan's -- besides the toilet paper, I got squash, organic pears and apples, beets and an acorn squash.

I spent around $3 at CVS out of pocket while using up some ExtraBucks on Eucerin and Neutrogena lotion, Stacy's chips, vitamins and milk. And I spent $11 out of pocket at Walgreen's doing the Pepsi deal, and it's very lame that I spent that much just to turn over my Register Rewards which were about to expire.

So let's call it $30 in case I'm forgetting anything. Then we'll add in the $30 I went over budget last week, and say I spent $68 and had $12 left over this week. That goes toward our bulk meat purchase, on which we owe $220. So I'll round it down and bring that down to $210. Slowly but surely, people.

What we ate on $80 or less this week:

For breakfasts we had fruit with cereal and for snacks we had mostly fruit and homemade muffins -- the girls have been tearing through bags of apples and pears lately. Most lunches were leftovers although I did make macaroni and cheese and salad on Monday.

WEDNESDAY: squash and tuna casserole with mushrooms

THURSDAY: tacos with pot roast, salsa, lettuce and avocado

FRIDAY: pizza with salad, ice cream

SATURDAY: shepherd's pie with leftover beef, frozen spinach

SUNDAY: chicken curry over rice with carrots, potato, cabbage

MONDAY: nutty noodles (I tried to sub in sweet potato for carrot and the strong flavor totally took over and wrecked the dish. Blah.), banana/sour cream muffins

TUESDAY: salmon over couscous with brussels sprouts (the very last box of frozen veg from the last ConAgra Catalina) and sweet potato bread

* I will confess right here that there was a time in my life when I resorted to stealing toilet paper. Not from a store, though. I was a student abroad in Paris during college and when the au pair situation I was in didn't work out, I got an apartment with the hope of paying the rent by teaching English. Well, the students weren't exactly lining up to sign up, since there are hundreds of other American students over there trying to do the same thing. I was so broke I could barely buy food, much less other niceties. I usually used thin pages of the phone book for toilet paper, but if I was at a public restroom I would shove some in my purse to use at home. I did this at the Centre Pompidou even though they had put the toilet paper rolls outside the stalls to prevent this very crime. There is my confession; now I can go to my grave with a clean, er, slate.



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