Sunday, May 8, 2011

$25 grocery challenge

My S.O. and I are pretty frugal by nature, but with grad school coming up for me and a general sense that we might be able to save more than we currently are we decided to kick it up a notch and give ourselves a challenge.  Tiny habits in spending can make or break a budget, especially in tight economies or should one fall on hard times. I know of a guy who is pursuing a masters in social work degree, but is known to spend $80 on bar tabs every Friday night. It's no wonder so many of our generation struggle with savings and finances.  As for us, we've decided to implement a $25 per week grocery budget.  In the past we've had times where our grocery bill comfortably ranged around $30 per week, but the last month or two our spending has been more than double that.  We haven't been eating like kings and aren't a ton happier, in fact, I can't even point out why our grocery bills have been so much higher.  So it's time to go back to a hard budget and get mindful about our grocery shopping.

Although originally it was supposed to be a cash-only, envelope method challenge we haven't really stuck to that part of it.  We have been, so far, successful at sticking to the $25 limit.  Actually, last week were just under $20 - we had a lot of left over odds and ends to clear out of the fridge.  We do a Friday to Friday week and this week is looking good too; we've spent $10 so far this week.

The budget covers just groceries, not eating out, alcohol or paper goods for just the two of us and the real challenge will be maintaining it long term instead of eating our pantry empty and having an expensive restocking week.  Our meals have been pretty typical for us, healthy, mostly vegetarian with lots of produce and I think we're just getting back into the groove of eating everything we buy.  We've also been grilling a lot lately which has been nice.

Once we have our usual grocery budget back as habit we'll probably move on to look at eating out (though we haven't been doing a lot of this) or alcohol (spending more than usual here) expenses.  We'll see how it goes.

What do you spend on groceries each week or month?

Update:  I wrote about the tactics we've been using to meet our $25 budget for more how-to information.

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  1. This is so hard to do. My wife and I have recently been doing the same for grocery shopping. Most importantly we make a list and then bring a couple extra bucks for an item or two off the list. Key is we bring the cash for the grocery budget only.

    Also, saving money on wine a Trader Joe's with a case of $2 Chuck for around $30 (hint: it's not really $2 a bottle).

  2. Wanderer, thanks for being my first comment! I may not do my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's but I definitely do my wine shopping there when I can. They have a great selection of wines under $5 a bottle.

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