For the last month or so I've shared changes we are making to our finances. It has been a few weeks since I last share. That doesn't mean that nothing is happening. In fact, there has been a lot of talk, some planning, and some changes have been implemented.
I just finished reading Financial Peace. We will most likely be attending the Financial Peace classes when they start next month at our church. (Thanks to some generous people who have offered to help pay for it.) I soon will be starting a part time job. Both of those subjects are worthy of their own posts, but what really has surprised me is that I've cut our grocery expenses about 15%.
Food was one budget area that I thought we had down. We grow a lot of our own food. We almost never go out to eat. Most of our meals are basic, and cooked from scratch. I really wasn't trying to cut the grocery budget, it just happened.
After posting Something Has to Change, we decided that we had to stick to cash. Using cash envelopes is something we have done on again, and off again for a number of years. It works very well for us, and seems to be the only way I consistently keep to the budget. Wouldn't you know my next grocery day there was not enough cash to go around that week, so I took out one lump sum to cover groceries and gas until the next payday.
No one went hungry. In fact, we ate quite well. The next payday I took out the same amount. Again we were just fine. So, what changed? How did we cut what we thought couldn't be cut anymore?
Sticking to cash makes you seriously consider and prioritize items before you just throw them in the cart. When it comes down to it, flour we need. Graham crackers we can do with out.
Sticking to the Basics
Even before we did not buy a lot of bagged or boxed snack foods, but I was surprised at how easy (and beneficial to the final total) it was to cut out those things that remained. The only thing I've purchased in that category has been saltines. We cut out tortilla chips, graham crackers, and other snack type crackers. We've made our own tortilla chips by frying corn tortillas. We even tried making our own flour tortillas.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables are Optional
What we buy fresh is completely dependent upon the prices. The last few trips the prices have been high. The only fresh fruits and vegetables purchased were carrots, cabbage, and apples. This week Aldi had a fantastic price on grapes (2 pounds for $1.50) and some vegetables including broccoli ( 1 pound for $0.69.) There was a lot more fresh produce in the cart this week.
Beans and Rice
These once supporting menu items have earned starring roles in our weekly menus.
Buying No Meat
We aren't vegetarians by any stretch. We raise most of our own meat. With an addition of a whole hog to our freezer, the only meat I now buy is pepperoni. I plan to try making my own very soon.
My point to all this is not to brag, or to tell you that you need to do what we are doing. The point I hope you take from this is that even when you think a budget category has been whittled down as far as you can, there may yet still be room for more trimming. I did not set out to trim this category, but when I was forced into it, I found that I could feed the family for less. That just frees up more money to pay off debt.