Since starting our journey to becoming debt-free, we have been looking for ways to cut our budget and save money. Groceries is an area I knew we could cut down on, but I want to make sure we aren’t sacrificing quality for a cheaper price tag. Here are 10 tips to save money at the grocery store that do not involve couponing.
1. Meal Plan
Meal planning takes the guess work out of “what’s for dinner.” My husband and I like to sit down once a week and create a list of dinner’s for the week. By creating a plan for the week you know exactly what needs to be purchased from the grocery store.
2. Create a list
Going grocery shopping without a list is a sure way to overspend. As you are meal planning, write down the things you need and when your at the grocery store, stick to your list!
My husband and I started our debt-free journey about 2 years ago right after we had our son. We have the goal of paying off all of our debt and setting up a better future for our family. We were able to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace through our church. These are 8 things we learned about money by taking the course.
Save a $1000 emergency fund. Unexpected expenses will come up, do you have cash to cover the next emergency that pops up?
Pay off debt using the snowball method. List out your debts and start paying extra on the smallest debt, while only paying the minimum on the others. The goal is that you will pay off those smaller debts fast, then you can “snowball” the extra money to go towards the next smallest debt. By the time you get to your larger debts, you should have a nice sized snowball to knock those loans out.
Live within your means and forget “keeping up with the Joneses.” The Joneses are the neighbors who have the nicest lawn and the newest cars and gadgets. The truth is, they are also broke. Keeping up with the Joneses will not fulfill you and will only cause setbacks with your debt-free journey.
Have slush funds for the things you are saving for. A slush fund is a separate savings account for specific things. For example, we have a slush fund for the car insurance we pay every six months. Each month, I set $120 in our slush fund so that when our car insurance is due, we will have enough to pay it in full.
After all debt (except mortgage) is paid, build a 3-6 month emergency fund. This would be your “fully funded” emergency fund to cover large unexpected expenses or to cover job loss.
Contribute 15% of your pay to retirement once debt is paid off. Dave recommends temporarily stopping contributions to you retirement while you are paying off debt to focus all extra income to pay off debt quicker. The thought is that the quicker you can pay debt off, the sooner you can start contributing more to your retirement.
Have a budget meeting each month. If you are married your budget meeting should be with your spouse to list out all of the income and expenses for the month. Think about any extra expenses you will need to cover such as birthdays, school functions, etc. “Give each dollar a name” so you know exactly where your money is going.
We have been following Dave Ramsey for about a year and a half to budget and pay off debt. We made the decision right after we had our first baby to pay off all of our consumer debt to set up a better future for our family. We hope to be able to eventually buy a home that is a little bit bigger than our current home and take our family on a vacation. Being debt free will hopefully also allow us to adopt a child, which is a dream of ours, but unfortunately so expensive.
The first piece of beginning a debt-free journey is to create a budget and stick to it- which is the hardest part in my opinion. Even if you aren’t following a plan to become debt-free, following a budget is beneficial to be in control of your money and to know where your money is going.
1. List all of the income you expect for the entire month.
Add all of your income together to have an income total for the month. If you have an irregular monthly income, estimate how much you make per month and you should set up a budget using your lowest monthly income estimate. Have a plan for any extra income you may make within the month (ex: put any extra in savings, or apply extra to a loan.)
I recently read an article that stated that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. 78%!
That means 78% of people couldn’t make ends meet for more than a few weeks if they lost their job. That’s eye opening to me. My husband and I have been following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps for a little over a year. If you are unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey, he teaches people how to create a budget, pay off debt and build wealth. This can be achieved by following his baby steps. Baby step 1 is to save $1000 for an emergency fund, which is so important to help prepare for unexpected expenses.
Dave talks about the law of Murphy: that is if something can go wrong, it will. It is not intended to be negative, but it is just a fact that is better to be prepared for. Cars need repair, appliances break, unexpected emergency room visits etc. One way we prepare for an unexpected expense is to have an emergency fund.
This year I started my 4th year of teaching, and my 1st year teaching kindergarten in a new school district. My class was an add-on from the previous year, so I came into a brand new classroom that lacked a wide range of materials, especially for small groups. I know that materials take some time to acquire, but for the meantime, I needed to fill in the gap.
Pinterest has been such a great resource for finding activities and game, but my problem came when finding a cost effective way to print. I looked into sending items to Staples or Kinkos, but for the amount of materials I wanted to print in color on card stock paper, it would have cost hundreds of dollars. And driving to pick my prints up is inconvenient, especially since I prepare most of my materials at night after my son has gone to bed.