(As first published via guestblog on ByRoeline&Co’s blog series entitled Budgeting 101)
Let’s face it. Grocery shopping can be a real hassle. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been trying to keep to a certain budget, but you’re not entirely sure if you’re really keeping within that budget and how much you’re really spending. You guess (and hope!) that the budget you’ve set out, is the one you’re actually spending.
So did I.
Until I decided to take my bank statements and open that excel document and add every.single.cent I spent during one month at Checkers, Woolies, McDonalds (don’t judge me – I keep telling myself it’s because the kids love it…) and any other store that would count as food or groceries. I also added my Dischem/Clicks shopping in a separate column to see how much I spent on toiletries and/or medicine as they often overlap.
The results shocked me. I was spending DOUBLE our food budget!
It didn’t make sense – I did a once a month grocery shopping trip where I bought everything we might need that month. But I also went shopping a couple times a week when our milk ran out, or if I needed an extra ingredient for this new dish I was making, or if we suddenly decided to braai tonight.
Now again, if you are anything like me, we almost feel too bad to only buy that lonely bottle of milk… So we add a bag of apples, and maybe some yoghurt and I think the coffee might be low. Rather safe than sorry, so I’ll grab that as well. #impulsebuy
Before you know it, all these extra shopping trips add up and can quickly turn a R100 into a R1000. And your beautiful budget blown to bits.
I’m here to help.
Not sure you can trust me? What does this stay-at-home mom know about my life? Our income is way different than yours! Budgeting is HARD! Well, ladies… I am mom of four beautiful (and hungry!) children, and our grocery budget a month at this stage is R2400. Crazy? Let me tell you how!
No budget can be one-size-fits-all. I know. And your budget should be reassessed every year. But this budgeting method can shape your budget and help you save for that cruise ship holiday you’ve had on your bucket list for so long, or even pay off credit card debt as I have!
The method is simple. We work on R100 per person, per week. We are 6 people in our little (not-so-little) family so we have R600 a week to spend on groceries. Impossible? Not really.
- If you have special dietary needs, or if you can’t keep to this limit (after at least trying for a couple weeks), adjust your budget to R150 per person, per week.
The real work actually goes in BEFORE you go to the store. You will need a little time for this first step.
Make a list of EVERY THING in your fridge. And freezer.
Seriously. Even the half bag of frozen peas. And that’s what you’ll write down. Half a bag of peas.
Then we’ll go over to your pantry and do the same.
Now that we have your list of items currently in your home, we can start planning meals.
Plan your meals based around what you already have and need to use, NOT the other way around. Often times we only need one or two fresh elements to complete a dish. Get creative with the frozen bits of left overs. On weekends, we often take out our frozen portions and my family members get to choose which one they’d like. (I freeze all leftovers already in portions instead of one big bowl.)
For recipe ideas with the ingredients you have, try one of these websites
Create 6x meals for the week. Yes, I said six.
We have noticed that every week at least one evening we’ll either do left-overs or just make a sandwich or something similar. So instead of buying too much and wasting, we are more aware of what we’re eating.
We’re finally in the store! Pull out your calculator.
Yes, I understand this might feel silly. But after a few times of doing this, it becomes more natural. It truly helps knowing how much you’re about to pay, and makes it easier to put down that item not on the list. Unnecessary luxuries and extras are made to a minimum. Deduct the amount used from your weekly budget, and write down how much you still have left.
The first time I only bought the items needed, I spent R150 for that week. WHAAAAA?? I felt SO incredibly proud of myself, I actually phoned my husband from the car!
Every week I have our R600 towards groceries, but also have an “other” budget of R200/week. Your “other” budget can be any amount that you feel comfortable with and can afford. You don’t need it. But think of it as “gap cover”. This covers “want to have” items most of the time, and not “need to have” items. My “other” budget goes towards my coffee at Vida, the babysitter, and when I accidentally go over my weekly budget.
**Never, EVER, borrow from next week if you go over your budget. If you do, you may borrow from your “other” budget for that week. (See image – week 2) But never from next week’s money. This is the same snare we fall into with credit. Sooner or later, it accumulates too much and catches up with you. So don’t even go there.
We so easily put the same things in our trolley and buy unnecessary items because “we always buy this.” By using what you already have, you can undoubtedly cut your cost by half. We have found some useful tips in shopping this way.
TIP 1: Limit going to the store to ONCE a week. If you can stretch it to once every two weeks, you’re a SUPER SHOPPER. The less you go to the store, the less money you’ll spend.
TIP 2: Buy extra of something when it’s a great (sale) price. Freeze or store. This way you’ll stock up for the following month, and already be saving money on something you would have paid full price for.
TIP 3: If you run out of a certain item, make do without. No milk for cereal? Make eggs. No more bread? Make muffins/pancakes. It’s just a couple of days.
TIP 4: Save the extra cash! I often ask for cash from the till (PnP and Checkers do this) when I do my weekly shopping. Eg. If my total was R480, I withdraw the other R120 and keep the cash. If I don’t need it again that week, it goes into saving. This helped my pay off my credit card in half the time.
Not only will this easy method help you keep to your budget you set out, it can help you plan your week better, help you spend less than you used to, and it can actually help you save in a way you were never able to before. And trust me, your husband and kids will thank you too!
Comment if you have any questions!