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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reflecting On The October Grocery Challenge

For those of you who weren't around during my October grocery challenge, here's the basic rundown:
The Goal: Spend only $20 a week on groceries (Publix, Target, CVS, and Walgreens shopping. All household supplies included) for the entire month of October.

Why?: We needed some extra money to cover some expenses in October, and my husband's business was really slow (now it has picked back up, thanks be to God!)

Results: We stuck to it! Our normal grocery budget is $50 a week, so we had quite a big chunk of money to put towards other expenses...
The purpose of this post is to reflect on what we learned, what we did with the extra money, and what we plan on changing in the future as a result!

You can go HERE to see the progress from week to week, but overall we spent a total of $74.63 for the month of October. Our total savings was $310.75! I can't fathom how people are willing to spend FULL price on groceries. Without that savings, we would have spent a total of $385.38 in October! Crazy!

So our total amount spent was $74.63 for the 4 weeks. Our budget was $80 for the 4 weeks combined. We were definitely under budget, and the amount of extra money we had left over from the normal $50 grocery budget was $125.37 (we'll just call it an even $125).

Here's what that money went towards:
  • $50 - Expenses for a group trip we took one weekend in October. This covered our portion of the lodging, gas, and food.
  • $15 - We splurged on going to the pumpkin patch to pick out our big pumpkin, as well as many little pumpkins to decorate our home with for the Fall season. =)
  • $25 - My car needed an oil change and tire rotation.
  • $35 - Birthdays of family and friends during October and November.
What did I learn from this? Simple...I don't always need it, even if it's a great sale. Now, I'm not the type to get suckered into buying something just because it's a great deal. Our money is way too tight for that, and honestly, I usually don't grab half of the deals I talk about on this blog. We just don't have the money to pay out of pocket for it.

When I grocery shop, my motto is to always buy it if it's free with coupons, even if I don't need it. I still definitely believe that, because we like to donate. It enables us to give above and beyond our means. There are a lot of items each week, though, that are definitely not free. They are still a couple of dollars out of pocket. I say to myself, "Oh that's the rock bottom price on that! I need to buy that! They are so yummy!" All of this is true, and I always stay within our $50 budget. When I was forced to cut it down to $20, though, I had to be extremely choosy on what items I did and did not buy. I discovered that I didn't need to buy nearly as many of the items as I was buying (especially since I'm trying to diet!)

In a nutshell, I discovered that we can easily lower our budget. I always thought $50 a week was the perfect amount, because it gave us a little bit of wiggle room. I thought spending $20 a week would be pretty difficult. Boy, was I ever wrong, though! I even asked my husband, "Have you noticed a difference in how stocked we are with groceries over the past month?" And he said, "No. Not at all!" So in buying the very best almost-free items and the few items I needed each week to make my dinner meals, I was easily able to stick to the $20 budget with no problems! Sure, there were items that I had to say "no" to, but we didn't really miss them. Like we really need 4 bags of Doritos? (My hubby thinks we do! haha!).

So, now what? That's what I had to ask myself. What is a good budget for groceries each week? The $20 was easy to stick to, but we were living off of our stockpile for all of the meals more so than usual. Cooking vegetarian makes it hard to live off of a stockpile, because I have to buy fresh produce every week for the dinners. During October, we cut these kind of meals out, and did quite a few frozen meals, potato dinners, rice and beans, and pastas.

To keep it a little more healthy with more vegetable dinners, we'll have to spend more than $20 a week on groceries. I do know that I want to lower the budget, though, because the October challenge made me realize that $50 is way too much for groceries each week. I can do a lot better than that!

Therefore, we have decided that our new weekly grocery budget will be $35. Follow along with me, and see if we can stick to it! It will definitely still be a challenge, but I'm ready and willing to make it happen! Maybe we'll have to adjust it accordingly as we go, but for now we're going to try this. As far as the Holidays are concerned, my very thoughtful and giving mother-in-law gave us a $50 gift card to Publix to spend on our Holiday treats. What a nice gift! We will be using that to pay for any baking items that I need for special desserts, drinks (like apple cider), or small splurges.

What about you? How much do you and your family spend on groceries each week? I'd love to hear from you! Comment below on what you think a good grocery budget is for different sized families!



Blogger Amanda Mae said...

I'm inspired! Thanks so much for sharing!!

November 7, 2009 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Queen of the Universe said...

man i am glad i found you...i have been overwhelmed as to how to reduce my budget and still get what we need for a week. thank you, thank you, thank you!

November 22, 2009 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Meagan said...

No problem! =) Glad it's of help! I would start with Couponing Basics and "Supermarket Secrets" on the side column. That's great for beginners! Have fun!

November 22, 2009 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

How could I do this when I have a really picky eater (my husband, somehow I can't seem to get below $150 for three people for a week. Thanks

December 28, 2009 at 8:30 PM  

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