(There are a number of posts “in the works”…things I want to blog about that I’m wrestling with…stories I want to share….but while those all sit in “editing” mode, here’s a mini update)
Remember when I said I was putting our family on a strict $50 a week budget and we would NOT be eating out the entire month of June?
Well, here’s a little check-in on how we’re doing. As a reminder, we have bought groceries on $40 a week in the past. This ONLY included things we could actually eat, and at the time we had a freezer full of meals & we were eating out at least once a week. This month, I set out to determine whether or not we could live on a $50 a week budget for all groceries, household items, paper products, personal care items & any disposable diapers/wipes we might need. And as of right now, we are successful at this goal!
We started on May 29th—and will run for 5 solid weeks. This gives me an overall budget of $250. When it’s all said and done, I do believe we will go slightly over budget, and that’s really ok. The fact is, we’re most concerned with continuing to cultivate discipline and good stewardship in our lives. It is the desire of our hearts for God to mold us into financially responsible individuals. While we have made many financial mistakes in the past (mainly credit cards) we are working hard to be responsible in every other area.
When we entered this challenge, our stockpile was quite low. Jonathan and I were both on our last stick of deodorant, there was no “extra” toothpaste or men’s body wash & our pantry was also looking pretty bare. We had no extra chicken or beef in our freezer & little in our cleaning supplies stockpile. I’m delighted to say we have been more than able to take care of all these areas.
As for the eating out…we have failed in this area. But---only twice! Two meals out in five weeks time is a record for us…especially with a freezer empty & Jonathan working an extra 20 hours a week in the evenings.
What I’ve learned:
-While our family could survive on $50 a week (or less) just by buying what we need that week, we are better stewards of our resources when we put the time in to stretch that $50 further (and we get FAR more for our money!)
-in order to make this happen, I need to plan ahead and always keep an eye on where our stockpiles are---to make sure that we are buying items we need as cheaply as possible (or free)
-I will need to shop at least three stores a week/or price match items at Wal-Mart & I need to utilize coupon deals even more so than I was in order to get the best deals and stretch our money.
-It takes a LOT of planning & organization….but the result for our family is worth it
-even if I only make it to Wal-Mart, I can still save lots of money.
-some weeks our shopping trips will look strange (like the week I bought 8 lbs of cheese, several boxes of pasta, and multiple packs of toilet paper) That’s ok.
--by exercising such careful planning, I can purchase little indulgences (example, my husband loves tic tacs & we never purchase them. After a doubled coupon, I was able to pick up 8 packages of them for free.---a small treat, but fun for him! I love smoothies, but make them from scratch, with a sale and a coupon, I was able to pick up four packages of Yoplait smoothie mix ready to be blended for free!)
--I LOVE being able to share with family/friends. I’m not buying 100 bottles of mustard like you might see on TV, but when I find a great deal for free items…I certainly will stock up. It’s been nice this month to be able to share some of our free purchases with family.
--MOST importantly….We are doing what we feel is right for our family. We like saving money and stretching our dollars. We believe we are being good stewards of our money by living this way. Not everyone is going to understand why we do what we do, people will inevitably not understand or agree with how we use our resources & some will think we’re crazy and not really be interested in adapting a similar lifestyle…. that’s ok. It’s worth our time.
And if this sounds like I’m bragging…I’m sorry! I am incredibly proud of the hard work my husband and I have put into continually breaking our budget down more and more. For the last two years, we have tracked every penny in and out of our account…we have drastically cut our spending over these two years, and yet made our money go further at the same time. There is not a day that goes by that we aren’t trying to think up a new way to save or make more money. I am thankful that he works hard outside the home and he is grateful that I work so hard to save us money and make $50 go far. I am blown away by the discipline God is cultivating in both of us & excited to see how we can be stretched farther!