Have you heard of the Live Below the Line Project? I first heard about it on agirlcalledjack.com. It’s a 5-day fundraising project in the UK where you live on 1 British pound a day for 5 days to raise awareness for people around the world who go to bed hungry. If you want to know more, click the banner to the left. While I don’t have the discipline to try this project myself, it did get me thinking about my grocery budget and how I can tweak that in order to fatten up my savings account.
The Hubs and I live a pretty simple life most of the time. With the economy being how it is, however, and our rent having gone up $71 a month last month and a raise for me currently off the table, we’re needing to find more creative ways to save money. I often clean using baking soda or vinegar, because those things actually work really well and are dirt cheap, and we’ve cut back on purchasing gallons of drinking water because we realized we were spending hundreds of dollars a year on something we paying far less for from our tap. (I still purchase 2.5 gallon jugs of water for drinking at work, since a lot of chemicals get washed down our only sink, but it’s far less than we used to buy.) I already shop for clothes almost exclusively at thrift stores, with the exception of underwear, socks and shoes. We rarely go out to eat, I use coupons when I can, and try to eat vegetarian a couple times a week to save money. But I’ve been slacking a bit and buying myself muffins and coffee some mornings, and coffee I can make at home or work. Muffins I COULD make at home, but they’re also bad for my calorie budget, so I should just avoid them altogether! I thought it might be fun to see where I can scrimp and save to maybe put a large deposit in my savings account at the end of the month. Here’s my plan:
- Work the pantry/freezer. I’ve got a lot of things taking up space in my cabinets and freezers that’s staple food. Nothing like a good spring clean out so I can refill it with fresh food next month!
- Limit spending on convenience foods (coffee, muffins, bubble tea, frogurt, etc.) to $20 for the month.
- Eliminate eating out with two exceptions: my Walking Meetup Group is meeting for lunch on May 3rd, and my birthday is May 19th, and I want to go out to dinner, dang it!
- Make 2 meals a week vegetarian to save money on meat.
- Expand my grocery shopping to more stores if necessary to get better deals. (For example, I happened to check Acme’s flyer and could get bone in skin on chicken thighs for just $1 a pound!)
- I’m going to be trying out several apps for my phone for coupons and rebates on groceries. I already use the Walmart Savings Catcher App, and have $11.67 in there. Apps I will be trying: iBotta, Checkout51, Shopmium, Extreme Coupon Finder. Websites I will be trying: grocerysmarts.com, eBates.com.
- Try to convince The Hubs to hang some of our clothes on a line to save the $1.50 in dryer costs.
I will be keeping detailed track of the grocery receipts and coupon usage, and will update each week with my savings. Right now I have a $450 a month grocery budget, which doesn’t include produce I buy at Produce Junction, but does include some toiletries and aluminum foil and such. I’m going to attempt to shave $100 a month off that at minimum this month, and include the Produce Junction purchases in that total. I’m also starting with a detailed list of what I have on hand, and will be keeping a running pantry list in the future I hope. (I have a habit of sticking leftovers in the freezer and then forgetting about them!)
Here are links to the items I’m starting with:
You’ll notice that I haven’t included a list of my dry spices. This is because that list is EXTENSIVE. I also did not list the standard pantry ingredients for baking like sugar, flour, etc. They are assumed. I will be recapping each week the following Monday, including plans for the following week, so my next post on this topic will cover Week 1 and will be on May 11th, with one following each week until June 1st. The menu planning will cover May 3 through May 30th, or 4 weeks.
I hope you enjoy my experiment!
16 thoughts on “Frugality May Days – The Challenge”
Boy, Andrea, this is a very timely post for me . . . . I’ve been spending a lot of money on fabric and
paint lately and with some other big bills due, it’s time for me to crunch too. You are spot-on about
the bottled water. I’m in Richmond and we are rated 11th in the country for great water. So I’m
drinking from the tap almost exclusively. (Bottled water is also “dead” water and if you’re lucky
enough to have good tap water in your city you get more in the way of needed minerals too.) The
other thing I try to do as much as possible is prepare most everything I eat. (Much easier if you are
at home a lot though, which I am.) Unless I have a brand that I just feel is worth it, generic products
like laundry detergent are just fine with me. I have really worked lately on putting left-overs into plastic
containers and cutting the use of any plastic bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc. to almost none.
I’ll be anxious to hear what tips others might have.
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I also prepare almost everything I eat, as you well know! 🙂 The only convenience foods I usually purchase are snack-type foods, because I really like variety in my snacks. I need to work on my paper towel usage, myself. I’m pretty terrible with that. Thanks as always for your comment!
Very interesting! We spend so much money on water, but the water here is terrible. I don’t know anyone here that drinks from the tap. We did in Alaska and I never bought bottled water growing up. Hate spending the money, but the alternative is nasty. Can’t wait to read your next entry!
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We’re very lucky to have good tap water here, but I do know if I lived in Florida I would be buying water because of the sulfur-y flavor. Is that the issue in Texas, too?
This is some great timing. I’m really trying to cut back on our budget. The biggest thing I need to do is just NOT buy what I DON’T need. Like, at the Korean store they had an oil and vinegar bottle set that had cats on it, and I wanted it SO BAD. But I seriously just bought bottles like 2 months ago, and in no way did I need that set. Jeff told me I could get it if wanted, because he is a wonderful husband, but I said… No, Andrea would not spend money on an oil/vinegar bottle set she didn’t need. And I didn’t buy it. So following the principle of WWAD, I saved myself $12. lol
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You have no idea how proud I am to have unintentionally convinced you to save $12! haha! And you’re right, I totally just pour my olive oil and vinegars directly out of their respective bottles, because I have about 5 different vinegars and 4 different oils! LOL
I have the Ibotta app installed on my phone – I really should start using it to see if I can get anything back 😛 Thanks for sharing this – I cleaned out the cabinets in January but seem to be overloaded again. Time to focus on eating out of the pantry again.
I see a split pea soup with ham hock in your future, as well as some sort of pasta with Pop-Pop’s sauce! You have some awesome goodies in your pantry and freezer gf! I personally have a whole turkey in my freezer that I need to cook up…hmmm, Thanksgiving in May??
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Go for it! I will def be making split pea soup, but considering its going to be in the 80s every day this week, not this week! Haha
We did some spring cleaning in our pantry lately and it’s looking pretty bare now. I’m off to the store today to do some replenishing. I notice something I do is wait too long to replenish things. For me, it is easier to buy (needed) things along the way instead of one late bill, which is going to happen today. I might try one of the suggested apps today too!
Yeah I’m not looking forward to the first June grocery bill when I restock the meat freezer! 🙂 The iBotta app is my favorite so far.
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Yes! I’ve heard of this challenge and I love it! I think it’s a great way to bring awareness. I actually blog about eating well on a budget; I have a $70 weekly food budget for two of us, but $1 a day for 5 days would be a real challenge!
Thanks for your comment! I love your post about the max you’re willing to pay for something. I need to do one of those here. Are your chicken prices for organic or regular chicken? I’ve subscribed to your blog via e-mail, lots of awesome stuff there!