I know there are so many of us out there are worried about money. It’s easy to feel like we have no control over our economic circumstances.
There are some things we can control. Even though we can’t control grocery prices we can create a grocery budget to lower what we actually pay at the grocery store.
Fundamentals of Budgeting
Before making your grocery budget, you need to decide how much you actually have available for groceries each month.
To do that, first take an inventory of all of your fixed expenditures. Fixed expenses are expenses that don’t change. Examples are your mortgage payment, car payment, insurance and some utility bills (cable, and phone for example).
After that you have your flexible expenses which along with groceries, include gas, clothing, entertainment, and utility bills such as electricity.
Your flexible expenses are usually the only ones you have control over changing. I say usually because some fixed expenses can be eliminated such as cable (you can do without it if you have to) and car payments (you can sell the car if you have to).
Personally, I like my cable so I try to lower my flexible spending first.
What to do First
Most families tend to eat the same things every month. So make a list of all the usual meals your family eats.
Now look at each meal and see how you can economize that meal. Look for lower priced alternatives.
Of course, shop sales and use coupons. And if you have room, stock up on often used food items that can be frozen or have a long shelf life.
You can shop different stores to take advantage of their specials but only do this if they are close to one another. With the price of gas, you aren’t saving much if you have to drive all over town to save a few cents here and there.
Packaged foods are much cheaper when made from scratch instead. Also store brands are usually just as tasty as name brands but can be up to half the price of them.
Eliminate snacks as much as possible. Specially the kind that have empty calories and little to no nutrition. If you really want to buy snacks, buy things that are healthy such as fruit, yogurt, cereal, etc. At least that way you are getting some nutrition for your food dollar.
How to Keep Going
Once you know how much you are going to spend each week, stick to it for at least months and adjust it as necessary. If you find you keep going over budget, look over your receipts and figure out where the extra money is going to.
But don’t stop just because you feel like it’s not working. Your food budget is a work in progress. And it’s not set in stone. Tweak and adjust.
Keep a grocery journal to keep track of what you spend each week and how much groceries cost.
I’d love to hear what your tips are to sticking to a food budget. Please leave a comment and tell us!