I think I might make it through the month sticking to my very strict grocery budget. And that includes spending grocery budget money on a bottle of wine for a party I was invited to! I’m pretty impressed with myself, actually. For months, I struggled to keep my grocery budget under $200, and when 2008 hit, I just said that I wasn’t going to try to keep the spending under $200. I was going to keep the spending under $200. Made it last month, and I should make it this month. I’ve got about $25 left for the month, and technically, I think I could make it through the month without spending any more on groceries. I will want to buy more fresh fruit and veggies.
I’ve been very good about taking a list to the store, and only buying what’s on the list. I stray from the list only if something that I use regularly is on sale, so I stock up a bit. I have also started carrying a calculator with me to the store, so that I have a good idea about how much I’m spending and how that’s affecting my budget. It really makes you re-think picking up that $2.50 bag of whatever. And on the other hand, it makes me realize that yes, I can “splurge” and buy that extra bag of Craisins to mix with my oatmeal. It lets me be both frugal and reasonable with my spending.
One thing I do struggle with is all the “rules” that I’m trying to follow while grocery shopping. As has been well documented, eating healthy isn’t always cheap. At this time of year in the D.C. area, produce is ridiculously expensive. I can’t wait until the Farmer’s Market in my area returns (yes, there are other Farmer’s Markets in the area, but given the time and cost to get there, it’s not really worth it to me to make the trip). I still continue to eat healthy and just let my finances suffer the consequences. And then, there’s the idea of staying environmentally friendly. I like to buy organic. I like to buy things with reduced packaging. I even bring my own bags for produce.
All combined, those are a lot of rules to keep for myself, and sometimes it’s hard to not go crazy and just buy an expensive, unhealthy, overpackaged, processed frozen meal.
Ok, it’s not that hard, because that sort of thing no longer sounds appetizing. But it can be hard to buy healthy, organic, environmentally friendly food that is still budget-friendly. I just remind myself that it’s all worth it.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.