Many mom/coupon/savings blogs are run by women who make it their full-time job to save their family money. The advice is great, but can get very overwhelming for us mere mortals that are juggling working full-time, blogging part-time, home and family. That being said, I’ve attempted to narrow the process down to three steps and over the next three weeks, I’ll break down the practical steps that have helped me remain sane while trying to save money.
First, know what you spend. Believe it or not, knowing what you actually spend on food is an active pursuit. Those mid-week runs to pick up milk or a random ingredient to complete dinner add up (and as I type this I realize I forgot soy sauce during my weekly shopping). Take at least a month to track your grocery spending. The easiest way is to keep receipts and add them up. Remember to take into account any non-grocery items you may have purchased as well.
This can vary person to person based on how specific your budget is. If you have a broad budget, then anything bought at Kroger, Food Lion, Fresh Market or the farmer’s market is considered grocery. But, if your budget is more narrow, you’ll need to deduct beauty/health, cleaning products, beer and wine spending, etc. to be put in other budget areas.
Many budgeting and financial advice sources use the envelope method for weekly spending. Each week a certain dollar amount is put in an envelope. When you go grocery shopping you only have that envelope with the pre-determined amount (no back up debit/credit card!). If the envelope method works for you, great! If it doesn’t, great! Whatever system you use should be functional in your life and move you toward the goal of staying on budget.