Okay, so have you got your budget in place? Great. Good luck to you! Over time, but hopefully within the first month, you should feel some pressure release from the stress of wondering if you’ll get that one bill paid. And answer the question of where exactly all that money has been going to.
Today, I’m talking about some ways you can trim a few bills. Specifically regarding groceries, food, and everyday items. Some ways might be too extreme for you. Some might fit your family great. But get ready to move away from your comfort zone for a good cause. I will mention at the outset that we don’t necessarily practice all of these, as some don’t apply to us and some might be more than we are currently willing to do, but these ideas are just to get your creative juices flowing, to get you thinking outside your box, and to inspire you to change.
Briefly, let’s talk about a couple other bills first, before delving into groceries and food:
- Rent: can you move to a smaller or cheaper place? Perhaps have kids share a room or nix the spare bedroom as an office. Maybe it could save you $100, $200 or more? Would that move be worth it in the end?
- Electric: turn off lights, use your oven/stovetop more efficiently, invest in a drying rack and dry clothes less or not at all in a dryer, don’t use the dishwasher, turn your heat down one degree every other month and get used to a cooler home by wearing more layers if needed (your body will adjust), unplug appliances not in use (a power strip works great for this), skip the hairdryer, turn off the TV, use less hot water, make sure your windows and doors are sealed well so the heat doesn’t escape, use a fan instead of the AC when possible
- Water/sewer: use less water, you can read about some water conservation tips here
- Medications: try natural methods over just grabbing the ibuprofen or cold medicine first – this might include acupressure, essential oils, raw foods, juicing, or massage for example
- Diapers: switch to cloth or elimination communication (diaper-free)
- Toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, kleenex: switch to cloth toilet paper
- Shampoo/conditioner: shampoo less often, use natural cleaners like apple cider vinegar or baking soda, or try ditching it altogether
- Gas: keep your tires properly inflated (it really makes a difference in gas consumption!), carpool or use the transit system, ride a bicycle or walk, don’t make unnecessary trips and bunch errands together on the same day, and finally – our personal favorite was when we went Car Free – selling our car and using alternative methods exclusively when we lived in the city
- Phone: lower the amount of data you pay for monthly or drop the smartphone altogether and switch to a simpler style
Okay, as if that isn’t enough, here’s a list of ideas for lowering your grocery and food bills:
- Make a monthly menu so you know what groceries you even need for the month, this helps take the guesswork out of what to make each day
- Make a grocery list and stick to it
- Don’t buy on impulse or without a list, even if it’s on sale or looks good! This goes for that daily or impulse buy espresso, too.
- Shop in bulk; that doesn’t mean 25 pounds of mayo but may mean a 12-pack of veggies, 50 pounds of flour, and a 6 pack of peanut butter
- But, do not buy more than a year in advance, or items that you “might” use someday – this leads to hoarding, losing track of what you have and need, and cluttering up your storage space
- Skip the sodas, energy drinks, juices, coffee stand espressos – drink tap water and tea instead
- Keep track of how often you use a product, so you that you won’t overbuy and that will also help you plan bulk shopping ahead
- Shop once or twice a month versus day by day, this is one of the biggest silent thieves of your grocery budget
- Set aside money for eating out maybe once a month but don’t go overboard
- Shop around for best prices, initially it is more work, but can save you quite a bit in the long run – I keep a spreadsheet for this one which includes four of my most common places I buy from and items that I buy most often, sometimes there can be as much as TEN dollars difference for ONE item! That really adds up fast!
- Substance beats pricing, which means do not buy junk food because it is cheaper, your health will suffer in the long run plus you actually eat more junk food than real food; this includes buying organic versus non-organic – buy the food that is good for your body and the planet for the long term
- Learn how to make certain foods rather than buying them premade – it’s healthier, tastier, and cheaper, this can include breads, mayo, candies and sweets like marshmallows, cookies/pies/desserts, broth, spice mixes like taco seasoning, refried beans, gravy, pickles, relish, sauerkraut, chili or other normally canned soups, enchilada or spaghetti sauces, soy (alternative) sauce, and so much more
Got any more tips that you think I should add? Send me a note!