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Posts tagged with: saving money on groceries

Grocery Shopping Update

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Remember how I went way over budget last month with grocery shopping? One of the worst parts was that I really had nothing to show for the huge overage (no stockpile of meat, canned foods, pasta, etc.). I literally had no idea where all the money (and food) went, but I knew it was gone.

But this month I was bound and determined to get back on track. Here’s what I’ve done differently this month to get my grocery spending under control:

  1. Meticulous meal planning. I always know that I save money when I stick to a meal plan instead of doing the whole “what should we eat?” (asked at 5pm) thing. That lack of planning had lead to many last minute trips to the grocery store to pick up “one or two” things for a given dinner (which, inevitably, always turned into 10-12 things by the time I was leaving). None of that this month! Not only have I stuck to my meal plan, but I’ve also purposely planned meals around items we’ve already had on hand and/or items that I could rollover into a second (or third) meal easily.
  2. Limited grocery shopping. One of my issues last month is that I was going to the grocery store a LOT. Like….5-6 times a week! How is that possible? I don’t even know. This month I refused to go grocery shopping at all during the first week of the month. Thereafter I’ve limited myself to a maximum of 2 trips per week (generally 1 larger trip at the beginning of the week, and a second much smaller trip to the farmer’s market for produce mid-week).
  3. Keep your eye on the prize. One thing that has helped with trying to really be mindful about my grocery spending is that I’ve been so focused on my debt-reduction mission this month. I’m trying to make some extra debt payments this month (above and beyond what I reported in my debt update last week), but the last extra payment is contingent upon my grocery spending. If I go over, then I have nothing extra to put toward debt. I’m SO, SO focused on knocking out some debts SOON that I am trying to squeeze every extra dollar I can find from my budget. It only makes sense to try to get some of that money from my grocery budget, particularly in light of having gone so far over in that budget category last month.
  4. Doesn’t hurt that it’s February. Can’t really claim any pre-planning on this one, but it sure helped that this was a shorter month than most. Whereas most months I’m left with more month than money, I still have money to spare in my grocery budget this month, even as the end of the month is fast approaching.

And although we still have a few more days left in February, so far the prognosis for my grocery spending is good. I did my last “big” grocery trip on Saturday and will probably need to go again mid-week (Wednesday-ish) for fresh fruits and veggies, but that is always a much lower-cost trip (maybe about $20ish). If that’s the case, then I should still have close to $60 leftover from my grocery budget. Combine that with little bits leftover from here and there and I should be able to scrape up about an extra $100 toward debt before the month ends. Fingers crossed! I know $100 doesn’t seem like much, but every extra dollar counts; every extra dollar is one dollar closer to paying off a lingering debt. Plus I’m getting so, so close to paying some debts off in full! I cannot wait until March because I’m really, really hoping I’ll be able to report a couple of newly cleared debts!!

How’ve you done on your spending and budgeting this month?


Modified Money Envelope System

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Well the month is almost over and I wanted to report on how my modified money envelope system has gone.

Remember, I decided to do a modified money envelope with only 2 categories: groceries and eating out. Instead of a traditional envelope I used the two compartments in my wallet and designated one for each of these purposes.

How did it go?

Well, as with anything new, I think there were a bit of some growing pains.

Cons:

There’s really only one. Because the money was stored in my regular wallet (instead of a big, bulky envelope), at the beginning of the month I would sometimes forget it was there! Twice I went to the grocery store and paid with a debit card out of habit, then got out to the parking lot and face-palmed over not using my cash!! This was frustrating and annoying to try to reconcile with the cash I had on hand (by subtracting odd dollar amounts when I didn’t have correct change, etc.). Just a bit of a learning curve as I tried to re-learn to use CASH ONLY instead of debit.

Pros:

I really, really paid attention to that money dwindling! These are categories that I usually go over on and this month I basically told myself that this cash was all I have in the world (even though we obviously have more money in the bank). So when the money started running low I had to get creative with making meals at home and using ingredients we had on hand. Instead of just putting it on debit and worrying about how I’d gone over budget later, I was forced to really work with ONLY the cash that I had allotted to these categories, no more.

Overall, I think the system worked great! After learning to spend my cash instead of automatically defaulting to debit, I didn’t have any problems. I’m definitely going to keep it up next month.

One potentially negative in terms of my grocery budget……I don’t know how but last month and this month I’ve run out of money well before the month was over. In both cases I’ve been forced to eat out of our freezer and pantry. That’s all well and good and helped me from going over our grocery budget. BUT, our freezer and pantry are both looking pretty darn bare right now. Our freezer, in particular, has rarely been so low on food! I’m hoping that with Thanksgiving next month I’ll be able to stock up on a lot of sale-priced meat (turkey is at a once-a-year low in November); and on the bright side of things, I have the room in my freezer to spare fore stocking up on some meat and other freezable food. However, I’m going to have to get crafty on how to stock up since I still don’t want to increase my grocery budget. That will be a challenge for next month. Fun times!

 


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