We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
Two weeks ago you were challenged to take a solid look at your finances and create a grocery budget. I’m here today following up with you, wondering how that budget is coming along.
Maria is one of my closest friends. She knows me pretty darn well and she has a knack for knowing when I’ve been avoiding something. She invites me over, gives me a big hug, pours me a hot mug of coffee and then bluntly asks me how I’m doing in that area.
It’s crushing, yet uplifting at the same time. I know I’ve been a slacker, yet how wonderful it is to have someone who is willing to pick me up and carry me through the issue. It’s because I love her that I sometimes want to throw a cream pie at her face when she asks me those questions!
Am I your Maria? Do you want to throw a pie at my face when I ask you about your grocery budget?
I hope so, because it’s out of love that I ask in the first place. I’ve seen first-hand the rewards of having a grocery budget. I’ve experienced the peace of mind that I can afford my groceries AND rent. I’ve also seen how harmful not having a grocery budget can be to a household.
Allow me to virtually pour you a mug of coffee and let’s discuss today’s challenge together.
Day 13 – Budget Check In
Today’s challenge applies to everyone, whether or not you created the budget from day 3. However if you’ve been plowing along with us on these challenges and somehow missed day 3, please stop reading this post and go back.
Yes, creating a grocery budget is so important that I do not want you to read anymore today until you’ve done it. Allow today’s post to be your reward for completing day 3.
Where we stand today with our budget will look different for everyone. We’re halfway through the month so in theory, we should have half of our budget left. However, on any given month I’ve spent close to 75-80% of my original budget at the two week mark. That’s the result of buying most of my groceries the first week and supplementing as the month progresses.
Your task is to evaluate your established budget and your expenses thus far.
- Is there enough left in your budget to account for purchases for the rest of the month?
- Have you spent your budget yet seem to have nothing to show for it?
- Did you allot enough in the budget at the beginning?
Consider where you stand and learn from it. There are three major causes why budgets fail. Let’s talk about these and make changes to our budget accordingly. Knowing where failure lies allows us to avoid it.
1. Unrealistic Goals
Unrealistic goals are based on an improper foundation. Numbers randomly picked out of the sky because they sound good, or chosen because it’s the number that works for another family are poor choices and will likely fail.
How did you decide on your grocery budget?
- Did you randomly pick a number because it sounded adequate? Or did you account for how much food, the type of food and your own shopping habits to account for your budget?
- Did you take the budget of another family and adopt it as your own without giving it much thought? Or did you account for the size of your own family, the type of food your family needs and the area in which your family lives?
If you’ve found yourself in a position where you won’t be able to meet your original grocery budget, it’s possible that your goal was unrealistic. Re-evaluate and devise a better, more realistic target that’s better suited for you and your family.
2. Quitting Too Soon
Despite having a monthly grocery budget, I usually go over. In fact, I was over budget for six of the eight months that I accounted for last year. Some would say that’s a 75% failure rate. I say that’s a 25% success rate and a reason to keep up the hard work.
It’s because of these months of consistently spending too much that Mr. Crumbs and I re-evaluated our grocery budget and decided to increase it to accommodate the nutritional goals of our family. If it weren’t for these months, we wouldn’t know how to adjust our plan and which direction to direct our efforts.
Again, if you’re in a position where you don’t think you’ll make your budget goal this month, take the opportunity to re-evaluate and adjust your plan. Now you know how to change your efforts (both budgeting and spending) so that you’ll be better equipped to reach the goal next month.
3. Misunderstanding What a Budget Really Is
In my how-to-budget series I reference budget as “the b-word.” So many people don’t even want to mention the word because of the feelings it arouses. A budget is not meant to imprison – it’s meant to be freeing! Knowing how you spend your money is incredible knowledge. It’s with this knowledge that you can strategically lower your monthly expenses. For example, if you see that your family eats eight loaves of bread on the average month (two loaves each week) thus costing $24 out of your grocery budget, you can equip yourself to make the decision to bake your own bread for a net cost of one quarter each loaf. You’d save $22 in bread alone!
Take this approach when evaluating your current budget. You shouldn’t feel confined to a certain number and sense lingering defeat. Take reign of your budget and make it work for you. When you look at your spending with objective eyes, you will see clearly how well you are, or are not, spending your money. Allow this knowledge to empower you to change and make improvements.
Day 12 Update
Yesterday’s challenge of using food twice was a little tougher than I anticipated, only because we were already headed towards the leftover train and I wasn’t sure there would be anything to repurpose. So my update will include my efforts from this past week in addition to last night.
Monday – made soup for dinner
- intentionally made double batch for leftovers on Wednesday
- saved onions, carrots and celery for broth
Tuesday – Lemongrass vegetables and rice noodles
- used mostly stems from broccoli, very few florets
- saved carrot and celery ends for broth
- one portion of leftovers designated for Mr. Crumbs lunch
- remaining leftovers stored in the freezer to be used for a dinner later, over fresh rice
Wednesday – tacos
- made double batches of mango salsa, pico de gallo and homemade salsa
- leftover rice was combined with mango salsa to make two separate lunches
- remaining pico de gallo will be frozen and added to the next batch of tortilla soup
Thursday – ribs and couscous
- I am the only one who eats leftover ribs, but if more than one portion is left, it will be saved for bbq sandwiches next week