This month, my family (family of 3) decided that we would take our usual monthly grocery budget of $400, set aside $100 for groceries and save the rest for Disneyland. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but the kids have been bugging me to go to Disneyland for ages, and the only part of our budget with any wiggle-room is the food budget. We spend much less on food than we do on extras and impulse buys at the grocery store, so I think it’s possible – the big question is … Can we do it??
Budgeting: Our Goal
So – $100 this month would mean we have a total of $20 per week (for 5 weeks in July) to spend on groceries. Now, we’re used to spending the whole $400 (if we even watch how much we spend!) in one month. By using only 1/4 of our usual, we would be seriously cutting back on luxuries.
What to Cut Out of a Budget: Unnecessary Luxuries
There are a few things which my family buys – a lot. Unfortunately, those items make up the majority of our $400 grocery bill, and we just don’t need them. I’m sure your family buys stuff like that too – and if you were really hard-pressed, you could find something to cut out.
Here are a few things that swell our grocery bills:
1. Cream (we like to drink coffee every morning, and the cream disappears quickly. Why is this bad? Cream is pricy! Worse, we’re coffee snobs, so no coffee is better than coffee with cheap creamer.)
2. Steak (who doesn’t love steak?!)
3. Fancy Cheese (Asiago and Parmesan are so delicious on everything!)
4. Paper towels & other disposable items
These are only a few of the non-necessities which make up a big slice of our budget. So, in order to save money going super-frugal, we needed to take them out of our grocery cart.
Shrinking a Grocery Budget
Do you want to join us in our adventure? I know, it’s hard. You see the delicious treats beckoning, and you think, “But, it’s foooood, I have every right to buy food, right?” Well, not if you want to buy something else instead of that 6$ a pound salmon! Just think of how much zucchini you could buy for the same price! (at fifty cents a pound at Cardena’s this week, just sayin’) Here are the principles we plan to follow, and I really think it’s going to help.
- Have a Weekly Budget Goal: Before you even leave the house to shop, a great way to control costs is to know how much you can spend. Hint: once you know how much you can spend, write it down on your shopping list in case you forget. You don’t use a shopping list? Keep reading.
- Write a shopping List: Have you ever gone to the store with a few groceries in mind, but by the time you’re done, you find your cart full to the top with goodness-knows-what, and the resulting grocery bill is a heart-stopper? You are not alone. Take along, and stick to, your shopping list, and you will virtually eliminate all “oops! Did I buy that?!” moments.
- Keep a Calculator With You: One way to prevent spending too much during shopping trips is to keep track while you shop. Calculators are found at just about every store, for a manageable price, and I bet they can help solve your over-spending problems. Simply whip out your calculator, and check the total price of your items at intervals during the trip. Don’t forget to use it to calculate price per pound, and price per ounce, when comparison shopping.
- Clip Coupons: Yep, I know they’re annoying, but if you search out coupons for the items you’re already going to buy, you can save some serious cash!
Well, I don’t know about you, but we’re all set for our no-spend budgeting adventure.
Do you think we can make it? Want to join us? Come on in, the water’s great!