So, we seem to be always short on money lately. This is entirely my fault. I haven’t been on a wild spending spree lately – not really. My husband, when I first started talking about being thrifty and green, told me that it was fine to make my own detergents and shop at thrift stores, but he didn’t want to skimp on food. OK, no skimping on food.
Somehow this, in my mind, came to mean, “mostly you should keep shopping the way you always have for food.” Wow. Not quite what he meant. I have been buying the brand name cereal bars, granola bars, cheese, chips, and soda that I always did. In the same quantities. I have started making our dinners from what was in the freezer but all of the breakfasts and lunches were still packaged frozen waffles and Lunchables. Not the thriftiest things you can get.
OK, so we all have our blind spots. This was mine. I went from using coupons and buying things I didn’t need because I was getting a great deal on them, to giving up coupons and starting to buy organic and local along with all the “normal” things I usually bought. This is, as I’ve learned, a recipe for disaster. I’m spending just as much as I did when I was buying things I didn’t need, because I have started spending more on the things I do need, and I’m still buying packaged food! I just keep adding expenses instead of cutting them.
So, Here’s where I start wising up. No more packets of peanut butter crackers. No more cereal bars. No more Lunchables. Homemade or generic alternatives to the things I can’t get by without. It’s not just detergents and hanging clothes. We spend more on groceries than anything else besides our mortgage. I’m ashamed to tell you how much.
I have been bad about sticking to a grocery budget in the past because I spend it all on the one big shopping trip I do when we get paid. I don’t leave any for the second week of the pay cycle when we need more milk and perishables. I don’t tend to keep track of those expenditures and the grocery total creeps back up to pre-budget levels.
So, here’s what I propose: cash. I will pull out my grocery budget when we get paid. I will allot a certain amount, maybe 2/3 to the big shopping trip. I will divide it up and leave that last 1/3 at home. I will stick to the list that I have made. (I’m getting better about having a list when I shop, I just tend to add things that we “need” to the list as I see them.) Embarrassing, but if I go over my budget, I will put things back. I will keep a list for the second week of the pay period and only do one shopping trip the next week instead of running to the store every time we get low on something. It won’t kill us to run out for a few days.
I will have to carry the grocery money in a special coin purse or something so that it doesn’t get mixed up with regular spending money, but that’s totally doable. The only thing I can do is try it, right? If it works, I will have figured out a way to cut our grocery bill drastically. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how it went.