It’s no secret that financially, Hubby and I are not....in the top brackets if you know what I mean! We are blessed, don’t misunderstand me! We were blessed with our house and are blessed with a car! So, one would think that we’d be more...well off. However, it still
requires demands two incomes to keep our home
stabilized. I say demands because even if we were to consider taking the kids
out of crèche so I could stay home....we wouldn’t be able to make it! Yes,
school fees cost us a good portion of our income, but when it all adds up....I
earn enough over what we pay out for school that we would be in a worse
position having the kids at home with me! Does this make sense?
Besides....it’s just not fair to them! Lil Mister LOVES school! He craves the interaction with the friends and we can truly see he is learning! It amazes me constantly how much our school puts into developing him emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, AND spiritually! Yes, spiritually!
Again, we are blessed; I know there are families that struggle much more than our own. And some of the reason we have or do struggle is of our own choices. That is reality and we are more than willing to ‘smell the coffee’ per say.
Still, we have been doing our best to get ourselves on stable ground. We have goals for ourselves. We have faith and trust in God, not only to help provide for us, but also to train us and guide us into making pure and good choices financially!
During this ‘training,’ God again blessed us by opening our eyes to our budget! I’ve talked about it here. A huge part of that awakening was our groceries. I spoke about our grocery budget before as well (a series I desperately want to finish!).
Therefore, being that it is the beginning of the year, I felt it was as good of time as any to jump back on track! We went a little sideways during December. We had a family in and out and two birthdays on top of the holidays to deal with. Our planning was a little off. That doesn’t mean we need to beat ourselves up or feel we failed so screw it all! Nope, it was again a learning experience and even more motivation to get things right. Those feelings of stressing about money had crept back into our lives and we remembered just how much we dislike them!
So, today I want to focus on point one of my previous financial post....cutting back!
It was probably the most emotionally difficult part of the process! You laugh, but I’m serious. I’m imagining that if your family is anything like ours....you spend a HUGE portion of your income each month on food and other grocery related items (nappies, toiletries, and cleaning supplies!).
For us, we get paid monthly which helps actually in a lot of ways. I’m able to create a shopping list for the entire month of needs. Additionally, then I clear room in our budget for items we must by fresh (fruits, veg, yogurt, etc.)!
However, what I realized we were buying was not always...necessary. I like have na-na’s in the house. It’s lekker to grab a cookie or rusk with my evening coffee and have cream always on hand to through together pasta! It was costing us a fortune though!
I spoke previously about the rusks, coffee, and premade sauces. The biggest change was meat! We decided we don’t need to eat meat every.single.day! Gasp! Meat is already ridiculously expensive! I mean honestly....ri-dic-u-lous! And we are projected to have another 15% increase in price this year. We had to do something.
So it started with creating some vegetarian options. Our original aim was two nights a week. In the last 3 months, I’ll admit we’ve gone as far as 3, even 4 nights without meat! Not in a row....we chop it up a bit!
Additionally, we started looking at what meat and where we were buying. I’d always gotten a hamper from my local butchery because it seemed like a great deal. However, meat such as lamb (which is sickeningly expensive) was included in the hamper and actually hurting us! So, I started price checking. Certain meats were cheaper at the butchery some months and other months cheaper at the grocery store!
Our store of choice has a great option of online shopping! I don’t actually order online, though I can. Instead, I take a look at prices so I have those prices to fall back on when I’m out shopping. More on this later!
Now, I have my priced out grocery list in hand and stop by the butchery first to see their prices. If I’m going to save money there....then I get it; otherwise I hold off until I’m at the grocery store!
The next thing I need to address when talking about cutting out the unnecessary is portion! Oh my word....my meat portioning was off! I’m embarrassed to say this since I worked in a restaurant as a manager! I should know a thing or two....but I was always leaning running towards the high end at home for some reason. After a few test trials, I was able to honestly increase how far our meat stretches by almost double the weeks simply by resizing how much we were eating!
With mince, I make smaller packets ideal for pasta and mince bakes. If I want to make a meatloaf or meatballs etc., I rather grab two small packs when needed!
We are still working on only drinking coffee in the mornings and tea at night....tea is so much cheaper and it makes us feel....better! I’m not a groggy or run down in the night anymore! We also switched to using powder creamer more often.
We buy milk in bulk. Our country provides long life milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened. I buy enough when shopping to carry us through the month (about 48L/ 12.5G). It seems like a lot but remember LJ is still on the bottle and Lil Mister likes his milk too! That amount will not carry us through if we are using milk in all our cups!
Cremora (powdered creamer) is cheaper. Costing us less than half a case (6L) of milk and it carries us the entire month! It replaces about another 3 cases of milk that would have been needed! Is it the best? No....but it is still nice and saves us buku bucks!
This process, like I said, was challenging. We really had to look at what we were buying and was it necessary. We had to prioritize. We were never crazy shoppers buying chips, cooldrink and sweets. We were relatively realistic. There were still things we depended on that we started to understand we can do without! Recipes were tweaked and new styles were tried. And at the end of the day I was able to shave ⅓ our spending off our groceries!
My grocery list still includes toiletries for the month, cleaning supplies for the month, and non-perishable foods/frozen items for the month! I shop in bulk because it keeps me from having to make 100 trips during the month, I get better values, and honestly, budgeting for one trip is easier than budgeting for weekly. There is no temptation to spend money you don’t have! ;-)
I hope this has helped you a little. My next post will discuss creating your budget and how to stick to it!
Do you weekly shop or monthly shop? Why? Would you prefer to do it differently than you currently do? Why or why not?
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