Working on the grocery bill

The Plan centres around saving as much money as we possibly can over the next year. We’ve been setting a monthly budget and tracking our spending for months now, but we haven’t always been very good at staying within that budget. I realized that part of the problem was not having a clear goal in mind for our savings. How much savings is “good enough”? How do you decide what you can and can’t afford when it isn’t an issue of using credit, but an issue of how much money you’ll have left over for the savings account at the end of the month? We recently started an RRSP and are contributing to our maximum allowable amount. And while this feels really good, it still seemed like we could be doing alot better given what Husband is bringing in.

I’m in charge of the budget in our household because I do virtually all the shopping and I manage all the bills. I have a geeky affection for Excel spreadsheets and actually enjoy balancing a chequebook, which makes me the perfect candidate for the job. However it also means that, being the main spender, I have the most influence over how well we stick to our budget. I thought I was doing a good job, but a recent conversation with the MIL (go figure) made me realize there was room for improvement. For example, our grocery bill was unsatisfactorily high and the miscellaneous fund (everything other than monthly bills, groceries, and gas) also seemed a bit generous.

I’d already resolved to try and do better with the budget when we came up with The Dream. Having a concrete goal to work towards has definitely strengthened my resolve. Today was the first grocery shop of the month and I paid careful attention to prices. I don’t like crappy food, so there are limits to what I’ll settle for just to save a buck. But we are lucky to have a supermarket chain with a pretty decent generic brand that even offers organic options. Even though I bought extra food for a dinner party we hosted this evening the bill was still considerably lower than it usually is.

The secret? Well, I tried weekly meal planning for a while and it certainly helped, but the kids have become so darned picky selective in their eating habits that it all started to seem rather pointless. Then Husband came up with a chart that lists the staples, fruits, vegetables, meat, and snack foods we eat and tallied up a month’s worth. His total was about half of what we’d been spending. My best guess at this point is that I was still making too many impulse purchases and sneaking in items that weren’t on my shopping list. So I’m going to try Husband’s list instead of weekly meal planning and see if that doesn’t help. So far, so good!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Sounds like a plan. I let Jay do the shopping. With restricted diets on 2 of the 4 people in our family, it gets hard to figure out what to do and how to buy

    Reply

  2. Posted by carosgram on January 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been watching a series on cnbc called ‘The Millionaire Inside’. It has lots of great ideas of how to save money. It is one of my goals this year so that I can retire and still live a rich life. One of the things they said was to not buy that latte or ice cap and put that money into your savings. It is the little things that add up. Good luck! You have a great goal.

    Reply

  3. […] boxed mac-and-cheese. They will eat meat of almost any kind (which presents a problem due to our small grocery budget and ethical issues with factory-produced meat) and enjoy eggs (but only fried or soft-boiled). […]

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