Well here we are on the second day of the April A to Z blogging challenge, where bloggers post their way through the alphabet. Today day two is the letter B.
Beginning a more frugal life began with needing a budget. I know this is not fun. For a very long time I did not want to face the financial reality of what we had, what spent and what we wasted, but to set the budgets we had to look honestly at our out goings.
As a couple when we began to cohabit we had totaled our household bills divided by two and added a buffer of £200 it seemed simple. For a long time it worked. Planning our wedding and saving for the big day triggered our first reality check. It was at this point we set a household budget . Everything that wasn’t a bill, food, pet supplies, cleaning products and toilet rolls we estimated at £50 per week, £200 a month.
Dutifully we drew out the cash and popped it in our pot. Most months we made it to the end with pennies to spare, often we needed to top up.
So we talked about it. I was put in charge and food budgeting began.
Without limits to the shopping budget it is easy to buy those extra bit. Begin held accountable for the food costs made me a more considered shopper. Balancing wants and needs was the foundations for balancing the books. These 5 point were key to us feeling more confident and content living on a £20 food budget each week.
Budget Shopping Basics….
1.Stock check the store cupboards, fridge and freezer.
Before the budget is set see what is lurking at the back of the cupboard that just needs to be used. Know what you have before you splurge on another 3 tubes of tomato puree (~on stock check day I found myself to be a tomato hoarder 7 tins of tomatoes, 4 tubes of paste and 6 boxes of pasata)
2. Meal plan and prep:
Once you are clear on what have think about what you need to eat then you can structure what you need to buy. Our meal plan includes lunch options for the husband, breakfast for us both and a combination of evening meals that often provide leftovers.
3.Keep a records of what is spent
We attempted a minimal spend month in March, I scrutinized every penny spent and kept every receipt. this helped in so many ways. I know where sells the cheapest spaghetti, I now know the price of most items we buy. Knowledge is power when you are balancing the pennies, we know how much it would cost us to throw away the half bag of carrots that can make great soup.
4. Reduce the “convenient” option.
Pre-prepared vegetables, microwave meals, convenience foods are literally provided at a cost. I can buy a buy a bag of potatoes for the less than the price of two servings of ready mash. Takeaways are another budget buster that we have deleted from the call list.
5. Plan, write a list
Perhaps the most important point of the exercise, before you head to the supermarket. Be clear with yourself on what you need. Be careful when you enter consumer-land for there are many special offers to trip you up and entice you to spend more. Cost everything stay in control and check against your list if you need that shiny special offer.