Don’t groan, folks. Let’s be realistic. You can’t save on a grocery budget, if you don’t have one. And you’d be amazed at not only how many people don’t have a grocery budget but how many have no idea how much they spend or what they spend it on.
And here’s the kicker–if you are easily meeting your budget each month, maybe it’s too high and you should consider dialing it down. I’ve learned to dial mine down to $50 a week but it takes work–and I am hoping to get it back to $40 here soon!
So how do you create a good budget? My best advice is to dig out all those receipts! Ideally, you should go back a month. But even a week or two’s worth gives room to work with. For those of you that chuckle at the idea of knowing where receipts are, pull out your credit/debit card statements and tally them up as best you can. But then going forward, keep your receipts.
What should you look for on receipts? Two things. What are you spending money on and are you over-spending? Two quick ways to tell if you are over spending–check out the “Today you saved” area. If it’s very small, you are probably over-spending, unless you buy mostly perishables like milk, bread & produce with small markdowns. The other way to tell…most stores put a “Saved X amount” to the right of or underneath each item. Your ultimate goal is to see that by everything. But start off small and get as many listed that way as possible. BUT you can have that by everything and still not be saving if those items don’t make meals for the week!
Here’s another thing to look for and consider. Are you spending a lot in junk/convenience foods? Just because you run out of those things doesn’t mean you need to run off and buy more. What do I mean? Say your family LOVES Doritos and Pepsi. It runs out, you buy more. Try this. Put a set amount on those items each month. When they run out and the money’s gone, too bad! They’ll learn to ration it better next month! (and not to mention slowly cutting back will help their health!)
Setting a grocery budget takes time and work. And it should always be re-analyzed. Keep pushing yourself to cut back more and find other ways to make the most of what you buy. But at the same time, you need to take “Life Changes/Events” into consideration for budgeting. Having a baby, visitors or an upcoming party, etc. may force you to alter that budget. Just make sure you get back on track quickly!
The perfect budget? Getting the most groceries for the least amount to create the most meals your family will eat!
Hope this one helps. Tune in tomorrow at 9AM for Tip #2.