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Last week, I shared about how my heart was inspired by the documentary, “Fresh,” and my husband and I decided to start shopping differently. A week later, reality has set in, and I am suddenly aware that this is a much bigger undertaking than I realized! For starters, I had no idea just how expensive maple syrup was (or how many different kinds there were!), and that was just one of my purchases that baffled me this week. I am taking a step back. I tried to completely overhaul how I was shopping and got overwhelmed. Too many big changes attempted at once leads me to just want to quit. It’s back to the basics for me.
Step one on my journey, figure out how much I actually have to spend. Seems simple, right? We have had a budget guiding us since we got married, but lately, we have found ourselves dipping into savings each month to pay all of the bills. It was time to re-evaluate. The results were shocking. Due to the rising prices of gas and my husband’s occupation (he works in commercial construction and travels all over the great city of Atlanta each day), our budget has taken a major hit. Add to that a new addition to our family (aka diapers and medical bills and more food to buy, oh my!), and well, our ends were not meeting. Now, the normal first step when you discover that your expenses are exceeding your income is to see what can go. Where can you cut costs? In all honesty, we have cut the costs to the bare bones. No cable TV, no cell phones and we rarely eat out. For us, the next baby step was to generate more income.
Now, fortunately for me, I have a great boss and was able to add some extra hours from home to boost our income. I would challenge you to think creatively for how you can add extra income if you are in the same boat that we were in. Maybe you babysit once a week or when you are baking, make extra and sell it. I’ve got friends that started making bows and dresses for friends, or a family that sends their boys to camp each summer by selling fresh homemade pies around big family holidays. Sounds far fetched, but those little things add up. Or maybe the next baby step for you is to just cut some of your expenses. Eliminating one trip eating out a week could save you $30-$50 and greatly boost what you have to spend on groceries.
So here is what we are working with in my house. We are a family of five. My husband works in construction (so yeah, he’s hungry after a full day of manual labor), my girls are bottomless pits and my precious one year old boy will out-eat all of us. Get the picture…I’ve got hungry people, not picky eaters who nibble, but ravenous beasts who devour. :) With the boost to our income, we have about $320/month to spend on groceries. That works out to about $80/week for the five of us. Now, you should know a few things about what I’m starting off with in my pantry. I am completely stocked up on wheat, and I make all of my own bread products (except for pie crusts, they intimidate me.) So, I won’t be buying hot dog buns, loaves of bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls or anything like that. I also have already purchased a quarter of a cow. These two things alone will lower my weekly bill. (I’ll share more later on how I budget for those big purchases.)
I must be honest though, after my first week of shopping, I am not sure if I can get everything I need for that price. This is the truest of experiments for me, and I am thrilled that you can come along with me.
Baby step one….what are you working with each week? After looking at your budget, what do you realistically have to spend on groceries?