When our finances were the tightest, we used to budget with an envelope system. We would have exactly enough money in our envelopes for what we needed for the month. There really wasn’t room in our budget to splurge.
Over the years we have waivered with different budgets. For the past few years we were making most purchases on our credit card because of a generous rewards plan that gave us a decent amount of money back at the end of the year. And of course, we paid the bill in full each month.
However recently, noticing the weekly grocery bill steadily climbing, I asked my husband to put me on an “allowance.” I just know that because I usually pay for groceries with the credit card, it was easier to make impulse buys and not stick to budget.
So we did just that. He gave me money for two weeks, and I must say, I enjoy the challenge of staying not just on the budget, but spending LESS. It felt so good last week to have money leftover from my budget!
Shopping in the store, knowing I had to pay with cash was huge. It eliminated impulse buys and made me think, “Do I really need this?” over many items. It definitely is worth doing.
I also planned my meals beforehand so that I could make sure I had all of the ingredients on hand for my meals this week, and not have to go back to the store too often in between big trips.
We made sure to use up leftovers, and to not waste. A big learning lesson for the kids, who were becoming complacent about that. I want them to realize we shouldn’t be wasteful.
Here is my simple strategy for the meal plan and sticking to a budget.
1. I asked my husband for a realistic amount of money for the week. I didn’t set the goal so low that I set myself up to fail. I left room in there for unexpected expenses.
2. I sat down with my calendar and looked to see what days we were very busy and what days we had more time. I planned easy meals/leftovers on the busy days. More involved meals I saved for days we would be home.
3. I planned about 10 days worth of meals, based on many ingredients I already had in the house, and noting what else I needed for my list. I also checked to see what was on sale this week.
4. I used my master meal list of all the meals we like, to make sure I had a good variety of meals for the week.
5. While shopping, knowing I could only use my set mount of cash made a huge difference. I quickly was able to decipher what was an impulse buy, because I didn’t want to waste my cash on that item.
Meal plans are a huge time saver for me. Every morning I already know what is for dinner. I don’t even have to think about it. I can prep anything ahead if I need to during the day. Incorporating a budget with the meal plan is also a way of simplifying because it definitely eliminates any extra “stuff” we don’t really need.
Happy Shopping! Happy Planning!
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