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Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Priorities, New Grocery Budget...



Many of you probably starting reading this blog after seeing me on the news, when I had already changed our grocery budget to $35/week. In a nutshell, the background story is that our grocery budget used to be $50/week, but then I did this $20 weekly grocery budget challenge for the month of October, and my eyes were opened! If I could easily spend $20 a week on groceries, then I could definitely lower our grocery budget down to only $35 a week.

Well it's been fun, my friends...but the grocery budget must change once again. The $35 has become harder and harder to stick to, and after much deliberation and discussion with my husband, we have decided to switch the grocery budget back to $50 a week (Ouch. I'm cringing at the thought of it, honestly).

These are some reasons for why we have decided to change our grocery budget:
  • We started our $35 weekly grocery budget not long after we became Vegetarians. At the time, I was like most people in thinking that not buying meat would actually make our budget a lot easier to stick to. Little did I know, it would actually make it much harder to stick to!
  • When cooking Vegetarian, you have to get creative. Many recipes call for exotic vegetables, spices, and other ingredients. Many of the ingredients are organic or can only be bought at an organic grocery store. You can imagine how this requires a little bit more money in the budget each week.
  • I am beginning to lean towards more products that are Fair Trade and Organic certified anyways. I know we definitely can not afford to buy all Organic products at this point in our lives, but I would like to start including it in our budget sparingly.
  • It is really difficult to come up with lunch ideas as a Vegetarian. A lot of times we have leftover dinner from the night before, but I usually just end up taking a PB & J sandwich, along with some other odds and ends. My poor hubby stays at home working all day, and I feel like he has nothing to eat for lunch. I need to start buying more fresh fruits and vegetables just for snacking on at lunchtime, in addition to what I buy for dinners.
  • Back in October when we made the switch to $35 a week, I always received CVS coupons from the price-scanning machine for $10 off a $50 purchase. Without fail, every single week! It was part of the grocery shopping routine -- Stop by CVS and run inside to scan my card to get a $10 off $50 coupon to use at Publix on my groceries. Well, I no longer receive those, for whatever reason! I still scan my card every week, and no $ off a $$ purchase coupon. That is a large amount of money that I am no longer saving on my grocery bill each week, which in turn makes staying under $35 much more difficult than it used to be.
  • We don't have the money to up our grocery budget. We barely pay the bills as is. However, we are switching cell phone services this month. (I will be blogging about this later on, because it is a company that I HIGHLY recommend). Our cell phone bill will be reduced from $130 to $75 a month. So that gives me room in the budget to somewhat justify this change.
  • I need some wiggle room. Every week, I'm cutting things to buy, just so I can stay under the $35. A lot of times, these are things we really do need (like fresh fruits and veggies).
  • I am back on my diet hardcore and have to buy healthy foods, as well as low-calorie snacks. (The snacks I can get for free or almost-free, though!). For example, it would have been nice to be able to buy some of the Smart Ones meals at Target a couple weeks ago, so that I could have something different for lunches at work every day.
  • As much as I don't want to admit it, I was pressuring myself to stay under the budget for some wrong reasons. How often do I tell all of you to NOT compare yourself with other couponers? Well, I should definitely take my own advice, because I still find myself doing it. It's like I'm trying to make a statement of "I coupon, and that's why I can keep my budget so low!" It doesn't matter. As long as your couponing wisely, keeping your budget at what you have set it, and saving money...that's what truly matters. Every family has a different set of circumstances and needs. And for us, I think $50 will be a good number each week.
  • It will make grocery shopping more fun for me, because I have that wiggle room that I talked about. We probably won't use the $50 every week, but we will have it there if we need it. Hopefully I can save a little bit of money out of the grocery budget each month.
  • I can hit up the Target, CVS, and Walgreens deals when I need to, without guilt.
Will we use all $50 every week? Most likely not, like I said above. But I think this is going to be a nice change for us. It will make shopping quite a bit less stressful for me.

When I began discussing this with my husband, he said, "Well don't you want to be able to say on your blog that you keep your grocery budget low? That's the whole point of using coupons." And I said, "Yes, I'd like to be able to say that, but that's the trap I've fallen into." Like I said above, that's not what it's about. We have different circumstances and new priorities now, and as a result a new grocery budget must be put in place...

What About You: What's your weekly grocery budget? What special needs or circumstances do you feel you have to accommodate for?

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7 Comments:

Anonymous crystal said...

Good for you. I was just talking to my SIL about our savings yesterday. Before I started couponing 6+ months ago, I was spending around $400-$500 a month on groceries for our family of four and two of the four of us are young children. Now I spend less than $200 and that's something I can be proud of. Some months it's closer to $100 but always less than $200. I just follow a few great blogs and try not to get too caught up in EVERY deal and just get the deals that are for 'us'. It can be especially difficult in the beginning deciding which deals to pounce on and which to pass, but now I've got the hang of it and it's become REALLY enjoyable. I don't watch every penny I spend but know my budget just the same. It is nice. I'm glad you've allowed yourself a little bit of wiggle room so shopping can go back to a fun challenge and not a chore. Good for you!

A lot of us, serious couponers I think, get caught up in the money part of it for maybe some of the wrong reasons like you mentioned which can really suck the joy right out of the game. ;) And, when you (not you personally) take it all too seriously I think it can also turn you into those kind of couponers that give us all a bad name. The ones that are mean and sharp and insist and rudely push deals through, rather than letting something go occasionally, if for some reason there's a problem. Anyway, thanks again for all your hard work, honesty, and great attitude.

March 6, 2010 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger The Ackers said...

I think it's smart to reevaluate your spending every once in a while. I keep our grocery budget at $50-75 a week. I know I could probably get by on $35-50 but I know I would be miserable, stressed out and having to go to the store too much, splitting up transactions with $/$$ coupons! Time and peace of mind are worth something as well and I think you said it right, if we are making wise financial goals, being careful how we spend and stay within our own little boundaries, we can see the fruits of our labors before too long and not be stressed out in the meantime!! Thanks for a great post:)

March 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Megan,
Fifty dollars is still a budget to be proud of. That is $25.00 per person. That is what I spend too. There are 8 of us. I have 6 children ages 15 to 4. Of course, grocery money includes paper products, health & beauty, cleaning. Some weeks, I go over too. In fact my 15 year old has recently been put on a no chew diet (for TMJ). So, I have had to figure in protien drinks, yogut and such for her to make her own smoothies. She is very, very thin and I worry about her health. I also pray to the Holy Spirit to lead me in my shopping. And I ask Jesus to multiply my "loaves and fishes" And He does! God is so Good! We are not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear... life is more than this. Isn't this what we are taught? I have been couponing for two years. A shopper for the Mandarin Food Bank taught me a lot. But, your blog gives me that extra boost I need. Thank you very much.
God bless you. Your blog has blessed me! Denise WGV

March 6, 2010 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

I have just started a grocery budget. Wow has it challenged me. I have been couponing almost 2 years but never on a budget. This is a whole new mind set and I am excited and a little (lot) overwhelmed. I just keep thinking that it's all about being balanced. Thanks for you blog!

Kris
www.saving4aseason.blogspot.com

March 6, 2010 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Klee said...

Meggerz,
Keith and I never really "set" a budget for what we would buy. We just tried to spend as little as we could. Since really couponing starting back in october, we haven't really "set a budget". In January i began tracking our spending ONLY counting grocery. We don't do too much CVSing unless it is something we get for almost free, so we decided not to count that in the $25.00/wk. (and since we work there it is always random times of buying and such).

Anywho, we decided in February that we would try to only spend $25.00 a week on groceries. we ended up going over by $23.00 for the month making it more like $30.00 a week. We also had a superbowl party, a Kosovar Independence party AND had Keith's brothers family over, so we had a few extra expenses.

This month so far for the 1st week we spent $28.64. So a little over, but i think we will manage!

but go for $50.00. Yall deserve it! hahah

March 6, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Megan, Love your article! Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. Do not feel bad at all at readjusting to the needs of your family. We all are just trying to be faithful with what we have been given. My husband and I are trying to get out of debt and have cut our weekly budget first from $100 to $60. Then we did the Eat out of the Pantry Challenge and only spent $20 and like you, was encouraged with what we saved. We are currently at $50 and will adjust if needed. It is encouraging to hear how others are doing. Thanks again!

March 7, 2010 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Meagan,
We are a family of four, our children are 11 and 14. Before couponing I spent around 650-700 a month on groceries, household and pet.

After couponing I got down to about 300 a month. Then in November we made a decision to cut things like HFCS, hydrogenated oils, foods with a lot of preservatives and such plus we wanted to add a lot more fresh fruits and veggies.

We tried keeping our budget at 300 but it just didn't work, we have now settled on 350 and that is really working. Some months we are under budget and others we seem to use it all. But the key is....doing what is best for your family!! :)

~Amber

March 14, 2010 at 12:02 PM  

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