Have you ever had a time of your life where your finances were stretched thin? Maybe you or a spouse lost a job, got injured and couldn’t work, or maybe it was an illness, or car trouble, or a necessary and unexpected home repair that drained your bank account and left you with minimal resources until your next paycheck.
Before I started working my home business I was so broke I had to get government assistance and food stamps. After I started making significant money with my Young Living business, I was still broke living paycheck to paycheck and going into debt every month. I didn’t understand money because no one ever taught me, or at least I didn’t listen.
When I started taking a program called WAR ON DEBT, my husband and I found 1600 dollars worth of FAT in our spending. That meant if we cut these non-necessities out, we would have an additional 1000 a month (since we were spending 600 more than we made). YIKES I know. I wish I could tell you that I was fully on track now and stuck to a budget, but I’m not. But thankfully I have a good Financial Advisor Angela Renna from www.angelarenna.com, who has kicked me in the butt and helped me straighten up.
The fact is many families live paycheck to paycheck already. It is estimated that 25% of Americans have no savings at all and 44% only have about 3 months of living expenses in their savings.
Emergencies can happen at any moment. Money guru Dave Ramsey recommends that most families have a $1000 emergency fund available for those just in case necessary but unexpected car repairs, broken hot water heaters, leaky roofs, necessary prescriptions, or an agreed upon emergency outside your normal budget.
Recently I finished reading Miserly Moms Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy. It’s a great book. I got lots and lots of great and new ideas from it, from playing with my kids to making wise purchases. But the main thing that really struck home was the grocery shopping. She really woke me up to some things I had been doing that weren’t so good.
Here are 5 things that made my grocery bill the biggest FAT in my Household Budget. (Fat is a term quoted by Dani Johnson for things that are making us broke and in debt.)
1. Wholesale Clubs and SUPER Stores: No matter how hard I tried, every time I went in that store (BJ’s) I couldn’t leave without spending a couple hundred dollars. Many things in these warehouses are not as much of a discount as you think. And because you are buying larger quantities, you will eat larger quantities too. Ask me about the big tub of animal crackers… I ate more of those than my son.
And you say that the SUPER store has better prices which may be true but your are spending more because of all the advertising and availability for other things you may not need, like the latest DVD release.
2. Many of the items I was purchasing at the Warehouse Clubs were convenience items. Single serving Greek yogurts, premade chicken patties and at least one or two treats our family didn’t need. Cutting these things out and purchasing large tubs of yogurt, cooking my own chicken and switching to homemade cookies and treats saved about $20 a week.
3. Make it Yourself: Purchasing pre-made chicken stocks, alfredo sauces, salad dressings, dough, healthy bars etc. can really add up. I estimate that when I do make some of these things myself I save another $10 or more a week. Yes it does take time so planning is important and you may run into issues. Like for my family, we don’t normally drink milk so when I buy organic milk for making a cream sauce I need to have other recipes to finish up what is left over.
4. Meal Planning: If you don’t plan then you plan to fail. And that is so true when it comes to meal planning. It really is fundamental to keeping your budget down and for grocery shopping. If you don’t plan or you plan poorly you will end up having to go to the grocery store more than once a week. And that will lead to extra purchases just because you are there.
5. Shopping with Coupons vs. Multiple Stores: Some people like to brag about all the stuff they save with coupons and that is great and a great accomplishment but really isn’t a savings, because think about it. Most of the coupons are for name brand things and most are not healthy items whether it is food for personal care products.
My friend Lauren would probably disagree. She runs a very successful blog called www.iamthatlady.com. The name comes from that lady at the grocery store with fifty million coupons that you get stuck standing behind. I do find Lauren’s site useful and if you want to learn how to coupon or more about savings, visit her site. Her Facebook page and Twitter feeds help us locally in Central NY know what stores have the best circular deals.
Here is a week’s grocery shopping and savings I recently did:
Morning or Snack Shakes
3 Servings a day $14 a week without protein
1.5 cups Almond Milk, 1 cup frozen fruit (now I add my Power Meal and Balance Complete to our shakes but if you didn’t have any or couldn’t afford it then leave it out)
Shopping BJ’s Wholesale (I know I said not to use these places but if you can discipline and stick to a plan then you might get some discounts.)
Almond Milk 12 cups $3.99
Tropical Fruit Organic Blend or Organic Blackberry,Raspberry,Strawberry $9.99
Breakfast: 3 servings a day $10.50 Total for the Week
1 cup oatmeal (use what you have for sweetening or adding flavor, butter, agave, peanut butter, bananas, fruit or nuts)
Eggs – use what extras you have in the house to mix up your eggs
Scrambled with butter
Fried Eggs with Cream of Wheat
Poached Egg on Toast
Costs: Oatmeal $3.50 Eggs $4.00 extra’s $3
Lunches: 8 Salads, 6 Sandwiches and Leftover Dinners for Lunch $15
Salads or Sandwiches, alternate
Tuna Salad $3
Chicken Salad $3
Egg Salad $2
Add to bread $3 for Sandwiches or over a bed of lettuce $4
Aldi’s Bag of Apples and Pears $4
Gluten Free Crackers BJ’s or Cucumbers and Carrots and Hummus Aldi’s $9
Homemade Oatmeal cookies or Apple Crisp $4
Pumpkin seeds Aldi’s $2
Cook 4 meals and have leftovers for dinner or lunch and then lunch items for dinner. For example, the Chicken Sweet Potato and rice serves 6-8 meals. So we will eat it at dinner and then again for lunch and then have a salad for dinner and maybe a little bit of chicken in the salad or on the side.
Chicken, Sweet Potato, Pineapple and Rice
Chicken Pot Pie (make your own crust with flour and butter) with peas, corn and butternut squash instead of potatoes
Tuna, Tomato, Pasta Spaghetti Squash
Chicken Rice and Stir Fry
Let me know if you are interested in the recipes by leaving a comment below. I will make a page with recipes on it.
Also my baby can eat some of our sweet potatoes and squashes.
Total costs for the week.
Aldi’s trip: $21, Sweet Potatoes, Squashes, Frozen Peas, Frozen Corn, Frozen Mixed Vegetables, Bread, Pumpkin Seeds, Cucumbers, Carrots, Apples and Pears, can of crushed Tomatoes, Crackers, can of Pineapple
BJ’s Trip: $49, Almond Milk $4, Frozen Fruit $9, Tuna ($7 for 5 packets), bought package of 4.5 lbs. Organic Chicken Breasts $16 but can get the same conventional for $9, 18 pack Egglands Eggs $4, Hummus $5, Organic Spring Mix $4
($10 can be cut from this trip if you don’t eat organic)
Things I had in the house: rice, pasta, butter, almond butter, agave, almond butter, gluten free flour.
So I hope this was helpful. And as you can see, we don’t miss out on eating healthy. Plenty of food and good quality. Remember you can’t run a car on crappy gasoline and you can’t run your body optimally on Ramon Noodles and Macaroni and Cheese. Cutting your budget doesn’t mean cutting your health.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any illness or disease. It’s strictly for informational, educational, or entertainment purposes ONLY. The products I talk about are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any illness or disease. Any information I give you about them is for informational or entertainment purposes only. They have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. Please seek the qualified health professional of your choice when making health decisions for yourself, your family and your pets.