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!