Milk: the most expensive item on my grocery list

I am a firm believer in the cash envelope system. It has really made a difference in the way I spend my money, whether it be groceries, personal spending, or bills. It has DEFINITELY helped me stay on budget when it comes to groceries. When the money is gone, it’s gone. Done. I tend to freak out a bit, when I see my grocery money dwindling, so I am diligent about keeping track of my purchases.

Anyone who knows me and my family knows that we go through A LOT of milk every week. When my two kids still lived at home, we went through 14 gallons a week. Yes, you read that correctly. Fourteen. It was very expensive. We had a refrigerator dedicated to milk. (and still do, I might add)  I learned to get creative with my milk purchases. For quite awhile, Rite Aid had a markdown day every week. Milk would be marked down to half price if it was within 5 days of the date printed on the jug. I was overjoyed. My milk budget dropped by about 33%. Milk at Rite Aid normally wasn’t cheaper than my normal grocery store, but with the half price discount, it became a bargain. I also discovered that we can drink our milk until about 5 days past the date on the jug. It seemed that on day 6 past the date, the milk turned sour. I did this for over a year, and I rejoiced. (I remember cashiers repeatedly asking me why I didn’t just buy a cow. I suppose I could have, but, I just don’t have time for that. Haha). Then came a merger/buyout of the company, and my milk prices went back to normal. UGH. I shopped around and managed to find fairly reliable, low prices at Wal-Mart and Winco. I worked my grocery budget over and had a separate, dedicated fund strictly for milk. Heh, I literally had milk money.

Fast forward a couple of years…  My children have grown up and moved out of the house. Now, my husband and I live by ourselves, and we go through about 7 gallons of milk per week. That’s still a considerable amount of milk. What can I say… WE LIKE OUR MILK!  So, I’m still constantly looking for a great deal. I set my milk budget for $80/month. For the most part, I have it figured out. Fred Meyer. Their milk is on sale fairly routinely. It seems to be every 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it’s gallons, and sometimes it’s half gallons. Honestly, I don’t really care which size is on sale, as long as it’s cheap! When gallons go on sale, they’re usually $1.99/gallon. When the half gallons are on sale, they’re $.99/jug. I can live with that, since milk is usually anywhere from $2.69 to $2.89 depending on where you go. (Let me note here, that we usually buy skim milk, regularly priced at $2.69.) Saving 70 cents on every gallon adds up. It saves me  $20/month, or around $255/year. Woo hoo!  When the half gallons go on sale, they limit you to 10 per purchase. I’m sure I could buy more at one time and do separate transactions, but, I feel scandalous when I do it that way. I’m not sure why, I just do. Honestly, I’d rather go early in the week, and then later in the week (and I bring my daughter so she can buy milk for me). This way the dates on the jugs, hopefully, are staggered, so they last longer at home. My mother-load of milk usually lasts us until milk is on sale again, and then I do it all over again. Sometimes when I go in to get my milk, I get a lovely surprise… the unadvertised sale. Nothing makes me more giddy than to see that special yellow tag. I hear angels singing from the heavens as I fill my cart full of gallons of milk priced at $1.29. No limit. I call my hubby and find out how much room we have in that beautiful dairy filled fridge and stock up. The best part about these glorious sales is that the expiration dates are normal ones. It’s just milk.. Even better! 

My milk budget works for me. When I find that extra sale, I still have money in my envelope. I have this little thing I do at the end of every month. Whatever money is left in that envelope, I divide it up. Half of it goes into my Christmas fund jar, and half goes back into my envelope, just in case a sale takes a little longer to come back around. I have it covered.  It’s usually not an adsorbent amount, but it keeps me within my spending guidelines.

Buying milk in bulk isn’t for everyone.  I’m pretty fortunate to have room in my garage for my extra refrigerator. I realize that not everyone has that luxury. If you can swing it though, I highly recommend it. We originally started out with a three foot tall mini fridge in our basement that worked for quite awhile, until the growth spurts happened… Oh boy!

  Do your research, and figure out the sales trends. Your budget will thank you!