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When my husband and I were just starting out, we had no grocery budget.
In fact, we had no budget at all.
Every time he got paid, I would go to the grocery store and get whatever we needed (it was really more like what we wanted, but I told myself it was what we needed). Then, I would pay whatever bills I could with whatever was left. I told myself, “We have to eat!” Needless to say, our bills were always behind, and every week we had to run out and pick up more items to make meals. Going without a plan made our lives SO much more challenging and dug us into a DEEP hole of debt. Faced with the possibility of losing everything, we eventually had to buckle down and create a budget.
I had no idea where to begin.
People ask me all the time how they can begin making a grocery budget, and I think they are facing the same situation I faced. They have been going with the flow, and flowed right into trouble! They are looking for a solution and begin by asking others about their grocery budget. That doesn’t work because every family’s needs are different. There are different diets, health needs, preferences, and financial abilities. Grocery stores availability and the time your have available to prepare food are also considerations. You want to find the budget that is right for YOU!
If you need help figuring out how to create the perfect grocery budget for you, let me tell you how you can figure it out in only 5 steps.
It takes a little time, but rejoice in the progress that you are make at each step. You are getting your family on the road to financial success and making sure they are eating well!
1. Consider What You Currently Spend
You have to start somewhere and the very best place to start is by considering what you currently spend. Take your receipts from the last month and add them up. Didn’t keep your receipts? An estimate works for now- just be honest. Either way, you will need to figure out what you believe you are currently spending every month on groceries to give yourself a place to start.
2. Cut Back
Take the amount that you spend per month and reduce it by 20%.
Yes. Reduce it.
I think just about every family who is getting by without a serious budget can cut back by 20% off the top. This will be the budget for the next month.
3. Follow that Budget for a Month
Stick to it. It’s just that simple. I recommend that you make a meal plan (Don’t know how? We give you a tool to get started here) for every week. This will help you to get and stay organized. Plus, you can better track your expenses. Use your meal plan to stay on budget. Don’t sell yourself short and make excuses. Follow the plan, and you will get honest results.
4. Reflect on Your Results
Once you complete a month on a budget, you can reflect on your successes (and even the failures). Were you able to follow your meal plan? Did you see areas where you could improve? Is there still plenty of room? Was the budget snug, but doable? Was the budget WAY too tight? Consider all the details of how the budget worked for you.
5. Make Any Adjustments
After considering the results, you can make adjustments. Some may have found that they underestimated what they originally spent, causing the budget to be far too tight. You may have hit on just the right number. It was perfect- not too tight, not too loose. Chances are, though, you could still cut back a bit more. If that’s the case, I recommend that you cut down by another 10% and see how that goes for a month. If you still have room, cut back another 10% the next month. I like to encourage people to keep cutting back until you can make it… but just barely. Then, I tell them to add another 20% on top of that tight budget to leave cash for wiggle room and stock ups.
Viola! You have your PERFECT grocery budget for YOU!
Amanda is a wife, mom, and all around frugal lady. She shares her family and faith on The Fundamental Home and Fundamental Faith YouTube channels. She also blogs at thefundamentalhome.com There, you can find her blog series, “How I Feed My Family of 5 for $100 Every Month.” Amanda is co-creator of Frugal Family Food and, as such, is dedicated to helping families eat well on a budget.
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