Buying Groceries on a Budget: How to Determine a Budget

Buying Groceries on a Budget - How to Determine a Budget Final
This past month, I spent a lot of time preparing to teach a class about “Buying Groceries on a Budget.” I received many comments from those who attended about how informative it was. So over the next few months, I will be posting a series of articles on this topic to hopefully encourage and help all of you too. This week, we will begin with how to figure a grocery budget for your family.

Determining a grocery budget will save you money and frustration. Without a budget, all of the work you do to find deals and clip coupons will NOT save you money. You might be purchasing a lot of amazing deals out there, but in fact, you might be spending more money in an effort to save money.  Rather than spending money freely, a budget controls your spending. Here are some simple steps to take on how to determine your grocery budget.

1)Evaluate Your Spending
First, look at what you have spent on groceries over the last four weeks and take an average. Eventually, you are going to cut down your budget, but don’t cut it in half right now.

2)Be Realistic
Don’t place excessive pressure on yourself by coming up with some extremely low figure for your grocery budget. Set realistic expectations so you won’t get discouraged and give up. You want to be able to persevere and see the long-lasting benefits.

3)Pay Attention to How Much You Waste
Are you throwing away more than you are eating? If you are, then you are throwing away money. Try cutting back on those food items you are throwing away or find a creative way to use them.

4)Slowly Lower Your Budget
It takes time and practice to reduce your original grocery budget fairly significantly. You are not going to cut your grocery bill in half this month. However, slowly challenge yourself to slowly start cutting 5% here and 5% there from your grocery budget. Within 8-10 months, it’s possible to have lowered it by 30-50% or more.

5)Try a Cash-Only Budget
It is easy to justify over spending when you are using a debit or credit card. With each paycheck, take out the amount of cash you will need for the month to buy groceries, and place it in an envelope. Then calculate how much you can use each week. Paying with cash forces you to stick to your budget and you’ll quickly see how easy it is to overspend. You will be more likely to carefully evaluate every purchase or great deal you find, and you’ll begin to ask yourself, “Is this in the budget?” and “Do I need this?”

Our family of five has a grocery budget of $350 a month. I usually only spend about $250 a month at the grocery store, and with the rest of the money, I use it when there are case lot sales or to pick up bulk items at Sam’s Club or Costco when the sales don’t come around soon enough. If you have more than three children, teenagers, or family members who have food allergies, your budget will probably need to be a little more. Remember that each family is different, so determine a budget that will work for your family.

Other Posts in the Buying Groceries on a Budget Series:

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  1. […] You might also be interested in reading the Buying Groceries on a Budget series. […]

  2. […] When you don’t have a lot of extra money, the way to build up your pantry and food storage is little by little. Most people don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend just to build up their food storage. It takes time, but even $5 extra in your grocery budget will help you to get a few extra cans or boxes of food that you can rotate through and use for meals. One way I save money on groceries for my family each month is to purchase items on sale so I don’t have to pay full price for them. And while I shop, I try to always buy a few extra items to add to my food storage. You can read more about how I Buy Groceries on a Budget here. […]

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