We have been on a budget for over 20 years. We’ve actually been on a cash budget for most of that time. We set financial goals when we got married and it’s been so delightful to walk through it. I’m not saying things have always been “fun”, because sometimes life happens, but…but…we’ve had a plan and we’ve stuck with it.
According to Dave Ramsey, the four essential things to every budget are:
Shelter (including utilities)
My question is always what is a reasonable amount to be spending in these essential areas?? Well, according to this chart from the USDA, I can now sleep easier at night (Just kidding. I sleep well every night!). This chart says my family should be spending $827 on the thrifty plan. I’m happy to report we are way under the lowest estimate for our family. Even if you include our line item for eating out we are STILL under that limit.
You see, at our house, money is a game. We don’t spend less just to spend less. We spend intentionally in every category. We spend less so we can give more. (Want to know ways that we give? Check this article out.) As I sat down and thought about it, I realized there are 5 simple things we do each month that really make a big difference. Here they are:
Have a freezer cooking session.
These freezer cooking sessions end up being about $8-10 a meal, but they are ready to go meals when they are plugged into our monthly menu plan. I add a few simple sides and dinner is served. The more you can stay out of the grocery the less you’ll spend. If you need a few freezer cooking meal ideas, you can click here.
I really can’t tell you how much money we save by planning our menu each month. Check out a month’s menu from Chaos2Peace. You can even print off a free, printable calendar.
If the task seems overwhelming for you, my friend, Laura, from Heavenly Homemakers has made it really simple with a plan called Simple Meals. For $1 a week, she will email you a menu plan. ONE DOLLAR a week!!! You really can’t beat that! By subscribing to Simple Meals you will receive FREEBIES as well, such as:
227 Healthy Snacks eBook ($6.95)
Eat Right Away Collection ($8.00)
Do the Funky Kitchen eBook ($3.95)
Totally Tortillas ($2.95)
HeavenlyHomemaker’s Guide eBook Collection ($9.95)
Learn to Cook Collection (great for the kids!) ($9.95)
You Can Do This! eCourse ($5.00)
Let’s Do This! eCourse ($5.00)
Make Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook ($4.95)
For the record, these freebies add up to over $56, but who’s counting?
By using the code SIMPLE10, you will receive $10 off making the price just $42 for the year…LESS THAN $1 a week. You can even download a free sample week. Check out Simple Meals. I think you’ll LOVE it! (PS-Click over. She will give you a sample week to try for free!)
Typically one night a week we eat leftovers. It may be a really weird grouping of food. Who cares? It’s food. Food is fuel. We need it to live. Eating leftovers=saving money. It’s simple math. When I know that there are children starving in.my.city. I will not turn my nose up to leftovers.
Use Zaycon Fresh.
I buy some of my meat at Costco each month, but I buy a lot of it from Zaycon Fresh. We have ordered and eaten their chicken breasts, chicken wings, chicken thighs, and all beef hot dogs. The best thing about Zaycon Fresh is that once you order you get emails about flash sales. Recently, they offered chicken breasts for $1.47 a pound. $1.47 a pound! Now if that doesn’t get you excited, I just don’t know what will!! You can check out this article for a FAQs section on Zaycon Fresh.
Only eat out occasionally.
Eating out should be the exception, not the rule. When you plan your menus, have the food in the house, and eat leftovers, you can really save a lot of money. Plan to eat out for special occasions, not just because you don’t have a plan. My crew of 5 can eat at home for about $10. If we eat out, it’s around $50. That can really add up. Hey, when we travel, I’ve been known to pack a crockpot to keep us from eating out. Ha!
And, although this buddy usually adds a few things to our cart that aren’t on the list, it doesn’t hurt to take him to the store to help me out, right?!?
If you are still wanting more on saving money on your grocery budget, I’d encourage you to attend Grocery University. Crystal from Money Saving Mom, has written this wonderful course. It’s an audio course designed to be used on-the-go as a comprehensive strategy. You will really like it. Click here to listen to a sample lesson.