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I have been known to squeeze my pennies so hard that they squeak – or so my mom teases me. I love a good bargain and getting a great deal. That means I have to have strategies to ensure that I’m not just buying because I’m hungry, but that I’m really getting a good deal on what we need. I will share 5 of the simple things I do to save money on a weekly basis.
For some reason, paying for things with cash seems more painful to me than swiping my credit card. Therefore, if I use cash, I’m less likely to overspend or overbuy because my money will run out of my wallet. I take out our monthly grocery money at the beginning of each month and keep track of how much I have left before I go shopping.
The envelope system is a method taught by many financial planning experts. The process is simple. You develop the categories of spending for the month and then physically put the cash for those categories into the envelopes. When the money is gone, you are done spending or have to take from another envelope.
Early on in our marriage, we set up an envelope system. Over the years some aspects of this have worked really well and we’ve gotten lazy in other areas, but we have an envelope system for groceries. At the beginning of the month, I withdraw the allotted amount of the budget for our groceries and then that goes into my envelope for groceries.
This process started out of necessity as we lived 3 hours from a town with more than a tiny grocery store with imported produce passed it’s prime. So, we made a monthly trip to town and stocked up at Costco and the grocery store. I knew exactly how much cash I had left for groceries for the month just by looking inside my wallet. This encouraged me to develop a very consistent grocery list process every month before we went to town.
I now live close to many grocery opportunities, but I still withdraw the grocery money at the beginning of each month. If I don’t have cash left at the end of the month, then I have to re-evaluate where that money is coming from. I love this wallet from Amazon because it has dividers that can be used for your envelope categories!
If you want to make the most of the money in your wallet or envelope, you need to have an accurate list of the things that you need to purchase. If you wander through the grocery store with an empty stomach and no list, you will likely come out with junk food for right now, but not the right things to get you through the week.
I like to sit down on the first day of the month and make my grocery list. I know there are certain stores that have better prices than others and I list those items by store. Otherwise, I make my list by dry goods, canned, fresh, frozen, dairy and misc. Miscellaneous includes toilet paper, soap, cat food, etc. This is what works for me. Find a way to create your list that will help you find the items in the store so your shopping time is minimized.
While you are creating your grocery list, take some time to look at your calendar to make sure that you have noted special occasions that you might need a card, gift or special ingredients for a cake. Spending less money also includes making sure that your shopping trips are planned wisely.
I had a friend, many years ago, who would call me in the afternoon, wondering what she was going to make for supper. Once she had that figured out, she would drive to the store to purchase the items for the meal. It never occurred to her to buy enough of the items for three meals and perhaps plan out her menu for a week at a time and create a list. So, every afternoon, I saw my friend drive past my house for her daily grocery run. She shopped at the corner store because she didn’t want to drive all the way in to town. I can’t even imagine how much her monthly grocery bill was and I’m quite certain that she didn’t have any idea how much it was either!
Another easy way to spend less money is to pack a lunch. If you or your spouse work outside the home, then lunch can become a real drain on your finances if you don’t plan ahead. With a little planning, you can create a few extra portions for supper each night and box them up and take them for lunch. Many foods also freeze well which allows for more variety if you have 4 different frozen leftover boxes rather than 4 servings of the same thing to eat all week. If you consider that even eating lunch at Taco Bell every day is at least $6 if you get the meal. If you figure that $6 x 20 workdays in the month would be $120 just for Taco Bell. You can buy a lot of groceries and eat much more healthfully for $120 or less each month if you do some careful planning.
On Sunday morning I like to plan out my lunches for the week. I hate to think about what I’m going to pack early in the morning, so if I plan my lunches once a week, it is so much easier.
The last tip for spending less is to plan your trips. By making a list and looking at your calendar, you can plan all of your errands in one trip rather than making multiple trips to town for this or that thing you forgot. This saves money for gas, but your time is also valuable. Every time you step into a store, you are more likely to buy something, so plan your trips carefully.
To recap – 5 tips for spending less money…
- Use Cash
- Create and envelope system
- Shop with a list
- Pack a lunch
- Plan your trips to the store to include all your errands
What is your best tip for saving money each week? Drop a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please like my page and share it with a friend!
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