Monday, 9 January 2012

Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill (Part 2)

Welcome back,  and thanks for popping by to read Part 2 :)

As I mentioned in the last Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill I was going to find the pantry staples list that I found in Sophie Gray's work all those years ago.  However I cannot seem to locate in amongst my books the list that I used.  I found some basic ones that weren't quite what I was after and I'm sure I had another one somewhere...so I apologise if you've come back wanting to read this.  I will try at some point to draft up what I would consider to be staples for the pantry for you. 

Part 2 is all about Goals and Budgets.  How can one succeed in achieving a task if you don't know where you are heading? 
So it's time to sit down and have a think about the direction you want to head in.  These are the questions we use whenever we are re-assessing what we are doing and trying to cut back, I hope they may help you:

Firstly for the budget what are you currently spending? Are you happy with this amount?  If you aren't sure what you are currently spending then you may need to take a few more grocery shops to get an idea.  I used to write on a calendar (an idea I got from my friend M) whenever I would spend something on groceries.  This helped me see where I was going with the food bill, even though I was operating a strict cash budget it's still good to know where it's going and to curb some of those non-urgent expenses.  If you use your bank cards to purchase your groceries then go online and work it out.  It might be an idea to start collecting your receipts anyway for reference later on.

Next how often are you shopping?  How often do you NEED to shop?  You shouldn't need to shop more than once a week, even for milk and bread. If you are going down more than once a week, we need to work on you changing this and adjusting your big shop so you are catering properly for your needs.  We tend to use our pay period as a guide.  MrW gets his salary in fortnightly so I do my big shop fortnightly at the supermarket and fruit and vege store.  The week in between my shops I go to the Fruit and Vege Store (and only here so temptation on non necessary items are squashed) and I buy the milk and the fruit and veges we may need for the week.  I have tried shopping monthly using a stockpile system but it would take me so long on this one shopping day that I decided fortnightly suited me better although in saying this, I still run my stockpile system with my levels that I stock at a months worth, but more on this in the stockpile post.

So now knowing what you spend and how often you NEED to be shopping i.e no more than once a week, how much would you like cut your spending by?  Maybe even if you just try for now spending $40 less per shop? If you manage to save $40 a fortnight from your groceries this is an extra $1040 you are saving that can be used elsewhere in your household/debt expenditure.

The next point leading on from this is setting your budget.  You NEED to set a firm budget of how much you want to be spending on your groceries (we want you to aim for spending under this amount to gain a surplus but that's a goal for when you are more settled with your budget).  For us with a family of 2 adults and 2 children our budget is $210 a week (we've recently re-assessed and lowered this from $230 when we had a rent increase), now I actually only spend on average $160 - $180 a week, so I have a nice surplus at the end to save or put towards other things we may need that are non grocery related (hmm a certain vet bill and fabric sales shopping springs to mind :) ). I think the only time I have spent up to the full budgeted amount in a long time was at Christmas time.  Now to give you some perspective, when both boys were babies we were spending $350 a week (yes I know a WEEK! I barely do that in a fortnight now so it still horrifies me I was shopping and swiping the plastic for that amount), through constant watching and re-assessing not to mention trying all different ways we have slowly bought this amount down over the years and have been sitting at our current budgeted amount now for about two years.  So be realistic about what you think you can manage, set your budget and stick to it, you can always adjust it later.  Now this firm budget means firm! you won't get anywhere with this if you let things through over the budgeted amount, you'll just keep going around in circles (yes speaking from experience).  If you get to the checkout and your over your budget, you have to be strong with yourself, choose some non-essential/luxury items and PUT THEM BACK (horrified gasp, yes I know it's embarrassing but after a while it becomes second nature....but I'll touch on ways to avoid this in a future post). Now inline with the budget is how you want to work the money for this.  You can refer here for my post on running a cash and envelope system.  My advice is however you see fit to deal with the physical money side of it, do it in a way that it doesn't get mixed up with other money, and you loose track of how much you have on hand.

Here is a post I wrote a while back on budgeting if you want a little more info.

With the budget out of the way now, the next step are your goals.  What are you are aiming for in your shopping and your home? By this I mean are you wanting to be as frugal as you can and go for all the specials, do you want to be more 'Green' in your systems at home, therefore shop for environmentally friendly products/septic tank/grey water safe products, or is it a bit of both? Are you simply just aiming to slow down the frivolous spending, or are you wanting to be making things from scratch so concentrating on buying staples to do this and less pre-packaged and processed foods? This will help you going around the supermarket assessing which brand/special to go for.

Ok, I think this about covers the budget/goals side of it, I hope this has given you some food for thought and a place to start with the grocery budget.  It's all just a case of trial and error, just start with little reductions at a time and you will know when you are at your optimum amount to be spending.  

Just realised the time! better head for bed. For anyone wondering, I know it's Monday and I haven't done my Monday: Baking Day post, I actually for the first time in a while, didn't bake today, but it's in the plan for tomorrow so I'll post it tomorrow :)  Night all

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Hiya, thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I can't wait to read your comments and to share ideas, I am a busy mummy with 2 boys to run around after so I will try and get to comments as quickly as I can...if there is a delay in seeing them published this is why, not because I don't care, I'm just taking some time to smell the roses :)

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