I get to go grocery shopping today, and let me tell you-- the grocery situation in this house has become desperate!
We have barely anything and have been reduced to eating black beans for 2 days. But it was totally worth it because it means that I've succeeded.
Let me explain.
So given the new financial situation of our family, I've reevaluated my spending habits. Many things that were once STAPLES for our family; things that never even crossed my mind that they were wants and not needs--have been extricated from my home and no longer purchased by me. For example: Paper towels. I don't think I've bought a single package of paper towels for 5 months or so now! And have I missed them?!? No way, Jose! I purchased some cloths in a big package from Walmart and have never looked back. I don't wash any extra either. They don't take up a lot of space, and so I just throw them in the washing machine with whatever else needs washing, and it's done!
Every time I pick up a major spill with ONE cloth and then throw in the washer instead of the trashcan, it's like I've just passed some sort of cosmic test, and I totally whooped its butt!
But that's the not only thing. Especially when it comes to groceries. I buy No snack foods. No juices. No frozen meals. And all of those changes save up my cash to purchase food that will actually LAST me 2 weeks (or close to it, judging from my empty refrigerator). If I purchased a box of poptarts, my family would inhale it in 3 days max! and there goes a $3 /3 day investment. But a bag of flour makes pancakes and waffles for months!
Don't get me wrong there are things that we consume, almost gluttonously, like CEREAL! It's a definite need for my family. I bet they would rather go vegetarian and me never buy meat again, if it interfered with my buying of cereal. It's serious business.
So I guess, my advice to anyone who is in need of curbing his or her spending is to first mentally prepare yourself to be uncomfortable AT FIRST. Because we are spoiled as a society. So any type of sacrifice or curbing of habits can be almost painful, but I need to assure you that you will persevere! Once you get into the hang of things, you will be just as comfortable or even more comfortable than before because you know in the back of your head how smart you're being. Secondly, see how bare-bones you can go. What do I mean by that? Well start eliminating things from your shopping list that used to be an automatic addition. For me, the first step was paper towels. (Usually when I tell people that I don't buy paper towels, they almost automatically go to "Are you gunna stop buying toilet paper too?!" The answer is NO by the way. Get serious!) Next came certain household cleaners that I found I could replace with just a gallon of bleach and vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Super saving lemme tell you. And my home is just as clean!
Next--commit! I read in this book, that the more you go to the store the more you spend--something like 40% more ( i don't know the exact #'s. I suppose I could get off my butt, walk over to the book shelf 3 feet away and look it up, but I ain't gunna) Anyway the point of it was this. Every time you go to the store just to pick up "a few things" you end up with more things than you ever intended to buy. And for someone on a tight budget, going to the store 3 times a week to pick up a few little things can really add up and jeopardize the financial stability of his household. So how do you fix this? Easy (kind of). Just stop going to the store. I've committed to only going to the store on payday, which for our family is every other Thursday. That means I go 2 weeks without stepping into a grocery store, and therefore am not tempted to purchase even the smallest of items! It also means that if on day 10 I'm out of eggs, then I've committed myself and my family to go without until I am able to go back to the store in just a few more painful days!
This is my system, and this has worked for me. You may not be in a place where you need to limit your spending, but statistically that's not norm. There are staggering statistics about the average American household having up to $16,000 in credit card debt...I don't care if you make 200k a year! to have that much debt signifies needing some better spending habits, and it all starts with recognizing that there are things you are spending your money on that are unnecessary.