It happens to all of us. That unexpected time in life where things don't go as planned, and you have to make it so you DON'T break it. Your bank that is.
For the past two months, I have relied heavily on sales, coupons, budgeting, and meal planning. Without these concepts, I wouldn't have been able to stay home while trying to find a job. Times are tough, the economy doesn't make finding a job easy, but you still have to eat, right?
I've tried budgeting before but I guess I wasn't fully prepared to go all out. I still knew that if I went over, there was still more money to do what we had to do and then some. It is different for us now.
We use to spend about $60-$100 a week on groceries. In total, we could have spent $400 a month for two people. We would just pick up things we thought looked good and while I liked a good sale, it wasn't my priority. I wanted what I wanted.
Having a very tight budget has allowed me to see what good sales actually are. Having a husband who works in food service has also shown me that all sales are not worth it, and sometimes you can find a better deal with a full priced item! <----- weird concept, right?
Through my coupon clipping, grocery store circular sale searching, and waiting for the right deals to pop up, I have been able to reduce our monthly grocery spending to $80-$100 a month! That's right folks, that's a $300+ savings! If I didn't do it, we wouldn't be able to afford our bills and I wouldn't be able to find the right job for me. I am completely grateful that we have been able to stick to our guns to get through this time. So I decided to write this blog series to maybe help someone else who wants to learn how to properly budget and plan to have delicious meals without going broke. I hope you enjoy and can learn some tricks to help you!
Topic #1: Making a budget
1. Write down all your bills and your projected payments. Tally them all up so you know exactly how much you need to have each month.
2. Write down exactly how much money you make each month that is deposited into your bank account. Subtract your bills from this number. (I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but some don't write it down. If you SEE the numbers in front of you, it allows you to make a budget.)
3. Go into your bank statements for previous months and add up all the money spent on gas and groceries. Place them into their separate categories, Gas and Groceries! (I'm so smart! :-) )
This is where I noticed that we unfortunately spend a lot of money on gas for getting to and from work. Until we can afford a new non gas guzzling car for my husband, this isn't something we can change. We did however make changes that we don't just waste gas to go on long drives anymore. Every gallon of that expensive car juice has to actually take us where we need to go.
4. Subtract the $$ you spend on gas from the remaining money you had after step #2. This amount will be what you have left in a month to buy groceries, save, buy extras, etc.
This is where you need to come up with some numbers and goals for you and your family. Do you want to save a certain amount of money in a year? Do you want to buy a new couch? Do you need to replace a costly household item? What are your goals?
5. After finishing the above steps, (which took you far less time than I took to explain!) how much money you have left is what you can buy groceries with.
For example, after all your bills you have $300 left. You want to save some of it, so you put $200 in the bank each month, which would give you $2400 savings in a year! Then you take that remaining $100 and you make it work for you and your family. I realize some families are far bigger than mine! So you find a budget that works for you.
It may seem like such an easy thing to do, but if you don't see those numbers in front of you, you could be way overspending. Some think it's easier to just wing it and that is fine. I can tell you that wingin' it never worked for us! We would be in a much better place financially, if I had started doing this budgeting and meal planning earlier in our relationship. We didn't, but we are now!
It takes little steps to get to where you want to go, financially or otherwise. I hope you stick around to learn what has helped us.
Until next time,