In light of the New Year, I know that many of us have been establishing new goals, resolutions, priorities and schedules. My husband and I recently made a date night of it, and spent an evening setting some goals, which I hope to post about shortly! I thought it might be the perfect time to bring the subject of our finances back up, as many of you may be wanting to get serious about your own finances as a New Year's goal!
When I did the Savvy Spending Challenge,
back in November, a lot of you mentioned that although you loved the
idea, doing it before Christmas just felt like it wouldn't be feasible
for your family. Now that we are past Christmas, I thought I would
bring the topic back and encourage those of you who would benefit
from a month of no spending and a lot of saving!
Just yesterday I received a question by email:
We're attempting the no sending month right now. I've been meaning to
e-mail you some questions, to get some input. Do you do coupon/bargain
shopping like Crystal does? And if so, when you're doing a month with
no spending, do you forgo the great bargains altogether, no matter how
cheap, if it's not something you have to have right then?
Great questions! To answer the first one, no, I do not do coupon shopping like Crystal (although I certainly admire the way that she manages her grocery budget and finds all those deals!). My method of frugal grocery shopping is a bit different in that couponing does not work well where I live, and as I try to buy the very best quality foods (including many organic, natural and specialty foods due to some allergies), I have found that I need to use some other methods.
Perhaps I will plan to write a more detailed post on this topic soon (let me know if this would be of interest to you, and what would specifically you would like to hear about). For today, I will say that my basic method of frugal shopping includes careful meal planning, working hard to avoid waste and use up all that is in my fridge, balancing protein sources (both for health and cost) and using meat as an addition to a meal (but not usually as the basis of the meal), cooking almost entirely from scratch, and shopping at several different stores in order to get the best deals. My combination of stores that I use has been developed over the years as I have carefully done price comparisons and searched out the best deals (considering both nutrition and price). Using an excellent produce market (rather than a grocery store) has helped my budget considerably, and also provided us with an excellent variety of fresh, local and often unsprayed or organic foods at a fraction of the cost in a regular store.
As for the second question (do I forgo great bargains while on a no spending month?), the answer is usually. There will always be fantastic bargains that catch my eye, and my usual method is to buy up as much of a bargain as mu budget will allow. Unfortunately, while on a no spending month, my budget just doesn't allow for much. I will confess to you that during our no and low spending months (Nov and Dec) recently, my freezer and pantry became quite barren, as I used up much of what I had previously worked to stock up.
Now that I am back to my regular grocery budget (well, we've actually lowered it just slightly this new year, to see if I can do it, but it's almost the same as usual), I am working very diligently to re-stock that which I had used up. It will take a little bit of time, but I see this whole process as worthwhile in many regards. First, the previous stock I had built up carried us through the lean months- what a blessing! Second, it is good to really use up what you have every once in a while to ensure that what you have is fresh, not freezer burnt, etc. and that you are not wasting valuable food. Third, now I am faced with the challenge of re-stocking and finding new bargains with no extra money. This stretches me and forces me to get creative as I purchase food, not only for our regular meals, but also to replenish my freezer and pantry, and take advantage of as many deals as I can.
Also, some of you might remember that back in November and December, I did
a lot of posts about saving money and budgeting, etc. I thought I would
link to those posts for those of you who have made it a goal to save
money, pay off debts, make a new budget or just get your finances more
under control in general!