Do you ever find yourself spending by habit? Going out shopping just because that’s what you do? One of my weekend tasks is always going to the grocery store. Sometimes I splurge and stop at Whole Foods for a few things as well, but I always go to the main grocery store. I always go with a list – sales picked out of the online flyer on Thursday, plus whatever has been added to the list on the fridge. I’m usually good about sticking to the list, and when I do deviate, it’s because of sale items that weren’t in the flyer or an amazing selection in the produce aisle.
So on Sunday, after my parents left, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a few things and noticed some of their produce was on sale. Since I had missed the Farmer’s Market this weekend, I was delighted at the chance to buy the items at Whole Foods, where the quality is often better (but the prices often higher) than my regular grocery store. I got the items home and sat down to make the grocery list for the other store.
After a minute or two, I got up and peered into the fridge. I peered into the freezer. I opened a few cabinets. Maybe I didn’t need to go to the store after all. I had enough in the fridge and freezer to last the week, including a few things that needed to be eaten or tossed within the next few weeks. Sure, it throws my meal plans all out of whack, but it lets me use up things that I stocked up on, perhaps unnecessarily, and lets me start with a much cleaner freezer and fridge.
I’m not sure if this is going to save me or not. I wasn’t planning on stocking up on any sale items this week, so no missed savings there. And while I won’t be spending the money this week, I may end up stocking up more than normal to replace what has been consumed. I’m so used to living in an area where it was very feasible that you wouldn’t be able to get to the store for a few days in bad weather or illness, so stocking up was a necessity. I live within walking distance of a few stores, and if I’m sick, there’s always grocery delivery. I’m going to try to continue to use up what I have in preparation for re-stocking the freezer with meals I prepare (I much prefer to batch cook in the fall and winter) and see if I can’t still stay within my grocery budget for the month.
I’m considering going to a “grocery shop every two weeks” plan, picking up only produce in-between. I’m not sure I can do it, and it might still mean occasional weekly trips if something I use on a regular basis goes on sale. We’ll see what happens. Either way, while it’s nice to have a habit of always hitting the grocery store early on a weekend morning, it probably leads to more spending than I realize.
Megan is a 30-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.