Monday, February 10, 2014

Being Fiscally Responsible

I got an overwhelming amount of people asking me how I’ve managed to make our grocery shopping trips a mere $25. First off, thank you for all the kind responses I received. I sometimes wonder if anyone even reads my blog, let alone cares what I have to say.
Since people seem curious, I’ll tell you some the rules we live by that make it possible. First, know that it is possible! We’re living proof (and we promise we aren’t starving.) We even have a food storage!

However, it’s important to keep in mind that in order to not go over your $25 budget you are going to have to have some give and take. That will include living without some luxuries (which can be hard but is so rewarding!)

1.       If we need to buy meat for the week, we use some of our food storage and/or what we already have left over

This means that we might have left over’s twice a week instead of once. It also means learning to make meals with what you already have. Which frankly, I think is a good skill to learn in general. One thing that is certain about life is how uncertain it can be. When Jesse was laid off from his job a month—yes a month!—before our baby was due, this is how we mostly lived. We also ate a lot of potatoes, pasta, and rice because they’re filling foods that are also inexpensive.

2.       We make all of our food from scratch.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time we had a meal that came out of a box. Boxed meals are usually very expensive (and not as healthy!)

3.       We don’t buy fruits and vegetables that aren’t in season (usually.)
And if we do I still apply it to our $25 budget. That sometimes means there is something else we might have to go without for the week. When we buy fruits and vegetables we buy the inexpensive ones like bananas which are normally about 50 cents a lbs. And sometimes we even give up the luxury of having fresh veggies that week. Frozen peas and canned corn are both very inexpensive. Not as delicious but practical if necessary.

4.       I make lunch snacks for the week.

Instead of buying granola bars I either make them or make a treat that is similar. I bake a lot. And I do it because flour and sugar are inexpensive and in the long run a lot less expensive than buying a bunch of small lunch snacks for the week. Yes, that does mean we have to live without Gold Fish snacks ( L they are so yummy!) My husband always has a sandwhich, a fruit, a veggie, and one of the homemade snacks I made. He never complains about being hungry and overall, his lunches are rather healthy.

5.       We try not to shop when we’re hungry.
Statistic shows you are more likely to buy more items if you’re hungry while shopping. For that reason (and because we’ve tested it and its true) we try not to shop when we’re hungry.

6.       I make a grocery list and stick to it.

      Again, you’re more likely to buy more items if you don’t have a list that you’ve promise not to diverge from.

7.       We don’t buy expensive things.

For example, strawberries (really all berries) are expensive. So unless there is a special occasion, we don’t buy items that are known to be pricey. This also include drinks. If you took a look in our fridge you’d see we have one thing: milk. In our house we drink milk or water. And speaking of water, we drink it from our faucet we don’t buy bottled water.

8.       We buy the brands that are least expensive.

Let’s be honest. Malt-O-Meal cereals aren’t as good as Kelloggs and General Mills. But we’re not shopping to have whatever delectable item we want. We are trying to be practical. And being practical means buying bigger cereals at a better price.  We also buy within those types of cereals the least expensive. we eat a lot of Malt-O-Meal Frosted Flakes and Cheerios and you can probably expect that we buy a lot of Great Value brand items. And again, we don’t buy an item at all if it’s expensive.

9.       We do math.

Ugh. I hate math. This why I sometimes make my husband come along with me. Not only do we add up the items as we go, we look at the unit pricing on each item to really make sure it’s the least expensive and that we are getting value for the amount in it.
10.       We sometimes splurge.

If we have some money left over in our budget we’ll buy a treat. It’s hard to be good all the time. ;)

I’m sure there are some other things we do to make our shopping trips as inexpensive as possible but I’ve been sitting here pondering for a good half hour and this is all I could come up with. It's not really something I've thought about all that much until recently, it's just something we've always done.

This kind of lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine, no judgment. But for Jesse and I this is how we choose to live our lives. This doesn’t just apply to how we shop for food but how we shop for everything. We don’t have nice phones, or pay for cable (we do now because it’s comes with our apartment for free), and rarely do we shop for clothes or items that don’t have an actual useful purpose. In fact, the majority of clothes I had are from high school. And the other day, the first time in almost a year, I bought clothes and they were with gift cards I received as gifts. We just finally bought a “new” KSL couch (which we talked them down on) after deciding our ugly blue and white stripped couch had outlived its usefulness (it had 3 major holes in it.) We have one car and for the first time in our lives we took out a loan to pay for it because Jesse was laid off and we didn’t think it was practical to use our savings to pay it down without either of us working at that time. Sometimes people comment on it. Some people admire us for it while others have judged us for not having a lot. People are entitled to live their lives the way they want but I like that we aren’t very materialistic people. I like our simple life.

But most important of all, our life style has made it possible for me to stay home with our daughter. To us, that is our biggest priority. And I am grateful every day that I am able to.

My dad was always an incredible example to me on how to save and spend. We lived in a modest home and had the things we needed. We didn’t have many expensive drinks and snacks. I was bought clothes once a year, right before school, and it was only the things I needed. I didn’t grow up with the most expensive clothes, or the newest technology. I had more home lunches than school lunches.  He didn’t just buy me a car, I had to make payments on it (though he did pay it off for me when I carelessly wreck it.) I had to pay for my own gas. Going out to eat was a major treat. I paid for my college tuition all on my own. But worst of all he never let me get a candy snack on our way out of the grocery store ;). I’m sure I whined about it; I’m sure I complained about it all. But my Dad taught me many important lessons about how to use and spend money by implementing these things. My dad also taught me many important life skills like how to balance a check book. He taught me by kindly suggesting that I put my birthday and Christmas money in my savings each year. He taught me through example (and he probably doesn’t even know it) as I’ve always watched him coupon. My dad is the most fiscally responsible person I know and I am grateful that he taught me in my youth me how to be fiscally responsible too. Many of the concepts my father instilled in my life are concepts Jesse and I want to implement in our daughter’s life. I know she won’t always appreciate it but we know she will be a better person because of it.

I am no expert by any means but these rules have worked for our little family. And we're certainly no Rockefellers but we have sufficient for our needs and that's what matters. :)
So now that I’ve given you some suggestions…
how do you plan on saving money this week?


  1. This has been on of my favorite posts yet (I do love all your posts though)! Starting next week I will be making a menu each week and sticking to it!

    1. Thank you! That is so flattering to hear! Sorry it took me so long to respond. I am terrible at checking to see if I have comments. Somehow I need to have my blog notify me when I get some...

  2. I've recently been trying to manage my fiscal responsibilities in a way very similar to yours and I can relate that it can be difficult at times but is very rewarding. I can agree materialism is completely over rated now-a-days especially in regards to clothing and food product shopping. Sometimes those big fancy brands aren't as cool as people make them out to be.
    But your post is certainly inspiring knowing that there is someone else out there in the world making life to their own standards. C:

    1. That's awesome Katie! I'm sure you would know a lot about product shopping since you work at a grocery store. I've found that a lot of brands taste the same anyway. Thanks Katie for your comment!