Together, Keith and I make up a DINK household. What this means is "Dual Income, No Kids." While this does mean that we don't currently have to worry about diapers, school tuition, and really cute kid clothes (except for our nieces and nephew), it doesn't mean that we have loads of extra income to frivolously spend on whatever we want. It doesn't mean we don't have bills. It doesn't mean we never think about the cost of gas. It doesn't mean we don't need to have a budget.
I'll be the first one to admit that I'm horrible at budgeting. A few years ago I did the Dave Ramsay envelope system and it worked out really really well for me. I was conscious of where my money went and I worked hard to save as much as I could. And it was great! Then I stopped. And lately, I've been thinking about ways to trim down my spending.
The area I struggle with budgeting is embarrassing: it's food. I'm not the kind of person who will go and blow money on clothes, shoes, jewelry, or decorations. I'm the kind of person who will put a $10 sweater back on the rack so that I can feel better about spending $10 on coffee creamer and Cheez It's, a bottle of wine, or take out for dinner because I don't want to cook or think about grocery shopping.
I could list 15 different reasons why I justify buying as much food as I do, but what it comes down to is that I just really excel at being lazy in the kitchen. When I've worked for 11 hours and dealt with sick, cranky people the last thing I want to do is stand over a stove while something summers or try to use brain power to think about what kind of a meal I could make with what I find in the fridge (which is usually vegetables that have gone bad, milk that is questionable, tortillas, and some leftovers from the other week that I really meant to cook, I swear!
I'm tired of throwing food away. I'm tired of trying to figure out what to cook after a long day of work. So a couple of weeks ago I decided to do one big bulk shopping trip and then not go to the grocery store for another week, at least! I made it a day before I went to Wal Mart with a friend to look for Christmas decorations and ended up with 8 cans of soup, a bag of rice, some champagne, and refried beans. But after that second trip I did great! I only went to the grocery store once and that was for milk and wine, which was actually justified. I also sent Keith to the store because while we were still spending the money, I wasn't going to the store so I was still winning.
Only grocery shopping once a week isn't a good way for me to do it, I've realized. What I'm going to try next is to take out cash and give myself a grocery allowance every week. Having the actual cash will help because I will literally be able to see my money being taken away. My plan is that once a week I will do a big trip where I buy the bulk of stuff: meats, milk, eggs, canned food, tortillas, etc. Them, during the rest of the week if I realize I don't have a lime for my fancy lime chicken it won't be the end of the world to go pick up a lime. As long as money comes out of tr "food" envelope,it's allowed. The trick with this will be this is what I'll use if I go to mcdonalds or Starbucks. My grocery money is for all of my FOOD that I consume.
My goal in this is a few things:
• spend less money, obviously
• produce much less waste
• find creative ways to liven up my current biting dishes.
• get out of the habit of buying something just because "I want it" or "it's a really good deal!"
Since I don't really have to worry about my clothing budget (I buy maybe one new pair of jeans every 2-3 years. Maybe less. The jeans I wear now are all Gap jeans that I bought in 2011. My sweatpants right now are from 2008. I just don't like to buy clothes.
By sticking to this budget we should be saving a couple hundred dollars extra every month. Maybe more once I realize how incredibly stupid my daily trips to the grocery store are. Think about it: if you spend $20 a night on dinner and then do that every night for 5 work nights, there's. $100! And that's just a really low estimate of how bad I am with a grocery budget.
So now I really Need to stick with this. We recently came upon a problem with our deck that could end up costing us thousands and thousands of dollars and I don't want to look around and think "where did we spend that $5,000 we could have put toward having a safe place to park our cars? Oh. It's my belly. That spare tire is what's left of my gluttony. Super.
So, I'm trying will you help me? what do I buy? What do I cook? How do I coupon? 8 WANT to be a savvy shopper but I really can't do it alone because OH MY GOD IS THAT WINE THEYRE SELING??? BRB...