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Showing posts with label budgeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budgeting. Show all posts
Slash Your Grocery Bill Immediately

Slash Your Grocery Bill Immediately



The easiest way to drastically reduce your grocery bill is to avoid the cleaning and non- food aisles. When I think about the layout of my local supermarket I could easily spend one third of my budget on cleaning and 'lifestyle' products before I even get to the food section. As I stroll down the aisles I first come across the pet food then toilet papers and glad wrap, foil , plastic bags etc. When I think of alternatives I can use my plastic containers instead of plastic wrap and foil and also use them to replace those sealable bags. I am not ready for the 'cloth wipe' era that seems to be sweeping the green bloggers in the US, so yes I will put toilet paper in my trolley.
In the next aisle I see batteries, fly sprays, cockroach baits, toilet cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, carpet cleaners, stain removers, washing powders, ironing spray and cleaning cloths . Hmmmmm I think to myself - if I use rechargeable batteries, keep the doors closed and use a fly swatter, use my Grandmother's recipe for getting rid of cockroaches, clean the bathroom with bi carb and vinegar, use my Enjo and home made cleaning cloth, and spray my ironing with a fine mist of water - I will never have to go down that aisle again.
I think to myself, if it wasn't for advertising, I wouldn't even realise that I NEEDED these products.
My point is this, a lot of what you buy at the grocery store you don't really NEED. You could spend $40 or more without having a thing to eat in your trolley. If you are trying to reduce expenditure, then prioritise your list and shop in order of importance. Start with essential food items like your staples and fruit and veg and forget the non food items (except the TP of course!)
I saw an ironing aide spray for $4.67 this week. Considering that I made a lasagne yesterday from scratch that fed us last night and tonight plus enough for lunches as well for about this price, I can't really justify the cost of the product for that cost.
I went through my master grocery list and wrote an alternative to most things on the list. It was really quite easy once I put my 1940s hat on. There are now so many aisles in the supermarket that you don't need to venture down.
The choice is always yours of course to spend what you like, but if you are having trouble coping with increasing prices, try the concept of shopping in order of importance or going without the cleaning and lifestyle products and see if it makes much difference to your bill. It has really changed ours! Let me know how you go!
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A Vision Splendid
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Detailing A Simple Life - our budget

Detailing A Simple Life - our budget



I have been getting more and more emails asking for assistance in the areas of simple living, home management and budgeting. It gives me great joy to know that my writing is actually assisting you! Please keep the emails coming. I try and address them with detailed responses, just be aware that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get through them all. I will also try and give more specific details in each of the posts I create.


In return, I ask that if you gain some benefit from my writing you put a link on your blog or send all your friends a link to the site and ask them to tell their friends!


At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.


So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.


I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.


As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.


I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.


Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".


We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:

Fuel

Holidays

Christmas

Birthdays

Groceries

Clothing/ hair

boat fuel

school

entertainment

pocket money

sanity money

kids banking.


This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.

Notes:

The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.

The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.

I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.


Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.


Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !
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A Vision Splendid
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Emergency Fund - but how ?

Emergency Fund - but how ?








































Every where you look there is talk of economic down turn. The news today is that there are predictions that there will be about 200,000 jobs lost in the next 12 months. I am wondering how you will weather the storm. will you be okay ? Do you live paycheck to paycheck ? Do you have an emergency fund? If you lost your job, do you know how long you could survive without an income ?
How can you start or add to your emergency fund ? I think the very first area to look at whenever you need to find some funds fast is your grocery bill. A few changes to meals and cooking habits or switching brands can result in huge savings. It is a question of what you are willing to forgo in order to have financial peace. I am a big believer in small things that make the difference. Everyone dismisses the smaller purchases as "just $2" here and there, but these purchases add up to hundreds of dollars every year. Even a saving of $25 per week can equal $1300 per year. The trick is to physically put the money somewhere. A bank account with no fees and high interest is good, or you can always stick it in a sock in your undies drawer!

There has been much talk comparing the 'recession' of today to the Great Depression. I have always believed that the true state of the current economic times is concealed somewhat by the availability of credit cards. If we all worked in cash the true problem would be much harder to mask, because people would literally have no money to pay for things.

I constantly think of my Grandmother telling me that they rode out the Depression quite well. She says that because they had their own fruit and vegies and had their own meat they were somewhat insulated by true hard times.

I think if there was a true Depression this time around it would have a tremendous impact on our families. My reason for this is that there is an incredible lack of skills now. I am 36 years old and my friends and I comment that we are the first generation who's mothers burnt their bras and went to work ( and yes I realise how much I am generalising here). As a result we did not learn many of the skills that have been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Now, even baking batch of cookies is beyond the ability or interest of most mums my age. I do agree that there is a growing group of frugal, green blogging mums, but generally speaking no-one cooks! There are very few people that I know that sew, except those brilliant quilt makers that learnt this fantastic hobby. I would bravely suggest that most mums don't even sew a button back on !

We could insulate ourselves somewhat by becoming more self sufficient and think in a cooperative manner e.g. I will trade you my spinach for a few of your eggs. Actually having someone 'working the home' often results in more savings than if both parents work and spend the majority of the second wage on child care and convenience products!

If one parent in the family decides to stay home and look after young children and run the house it can be a huge money saver, but you must have skills. Cooking and gardening would have to be the two most important ones.

If you can't cook - google it !!! That's the extent of my advice. You can find detailed sites that show you photo by photo how to do basic things. You can borrow books from the library or tune in to a cooking show. There is nothing stopping you.

When it comes to gardening my best advice is to just try it. Once again google it or borrow a book and take one small step at a time. A good place to start is with sprouts on the window sill. Then venture into some herbs in pots. Even a small balcony can grow some tomatoes, lettuce and carrots in pots!

Many of the answers to today's problems lie in the old fashioned ways. Think like it's 1940 and you will reap huge rewards in health, finances and of course the joy factor !



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A Vision Splendid
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There's More To Life Than Money ?

There's More To Life Than Money ?




There’s more to life than money. We hear that saying all the time but for many people money is at the centre of their existence and I believe, rightly so.

If you are thirsty and dehydrated you can think of nothing but water. If you are starving you can think of nothing but food. So it is right to think that when you are out of money or you have money troubles then that is all you can think of.

Poor money management creates tremendous stress. There is stress because of guilty feelings of over spending. There is stress not knowing how bills will be paid for. There is stress in knowing that you are going backwards. This stress is often the basis of many disputes and marriage break ups.

The only way out is to WAKE UP from the CONSUMER NIGHTMARE.

If you are unhappy with your present financial circumstances then you must make changes to your relationship with money or things will not improve or they will get worse.

1. WORK OUT WHERE YOU ARE FINANCIALLY – list everything you have and everything you owe. A total clean sweep – right down to that 10c on your bedside table and the 20c coin in the glove box of your car. Gather it all up and FACE YOUR FINANCIAL TRUTH.


2. LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE – If you are in debt, look around your home and ask yourself ‘was it worth it’. I remember seeing a TV programme once where a finance expert was in someone’s home and they opened up the storage cupboard and just started counting - $30, $25, $75 etc as they were pointing to board games, hairdryers, DVD collections, toys etc. How much of your money is just sitting around in cupboards. It’s a VERY scary thought.


3. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NOW DON’T HAVE: Think about this- if you have a mortgage and you haven’t paid it off in ten years, ask yourself where that money went that could have been used for extra repayments. The answer is – thrown out! You have spent thousands of dollars that could have got you out of debt on things that you have bought and thrown away. How many clothes do you have that are more than 5 years old ? We buy them then they go out of fashion and we throw them away. We also buy popcorn makers and electric slippers, music CDs, storage baskets, doona covers, computers, TVs, lounge suites. We have them for a while and then they become old, boring and unfashionable…. So we buy new ones. So instead of now being debt free, we accidentally spent the money that we could have put towards extra repayments on …… things that we thought were good at the time.


4. KNOW THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Advertising is seduction. The sooner you understand this, the better you and your money will get on together. Don’t believe what you see. No face cream will make you look younger, no car will improve your life, no office furniture will increase your income. What will really make you feel great is being financially free, having positive relationships and finding your ‘JOY FACTOR’ – that is, something that truly gives you joy in life. Think about why companies offer - BUY NOW PAY LATER type deals. It is because they know that the majority of people don’t pay on time and they will make extra profits.


5. IF YOU HAVE A POOR TRACK RECORD, DON’T TRUST YOURSELF: I have heard people say, I can’t carry cash because I just spend it. In my experience it is a lot harder to part with cash knowing that you only have $30 in your wallet than it is to hand over your credit card and convince yourself that this is a justifiable one off purchase that you will definitely pay off at the end of the month. BE REAL – carry cash and be creative about not using it.


6.BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: We get into trouble with money because we are lying to ourselves. We won’t accept the cold hard truth that we cannot live our current lifestyle on our current income. It’s as simple as that. If we were HONEST we would think differently about how we spend.


7. RECOGNISE THAT RECREATIONAL BUYING GIVES A SHORT TERM BUZZ: - Sure, it’s exciting when you bring something home from the shops but the buzz wears off, sometimes too quickly and you have to buy something else to get that sense of excitement. – If it were any other substance you were abusing it would be called a drug addiction !


8. START IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD Day dream about what your life would be like if you were debt free. Would it mean that you could take holidays, real, soul renewing holidays. Would it mean that one of the parents could ‘come home’. Would it mean that both parents could work part time. Would it mean that you could stop working to pay for debt and start working in an area that you are passionate about that may mean a lesser salary. Would it mean that you could leave work all together and work for yourself, create your own income or do volunteer work ?


9. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO TRADE YOUR TIME FOR: If you are working to create income, then everything you buy you have worked for. If your hourly rate is $30 then to buy a $60 pair of jeans you have to work two hours. You may be quite willing to do that. Ask yourself, however, whether you are willing to pay for other things – Are you prepared to work 20 hours per year to pay for cleaning products that you simply pour down the toilet or the sink ? If not, use vinegar and bi-carb. Are you willing to work 26 hours a year to pay for a subscription TV service that you miss most of the time anyway. If not, borrow DVDs from your local library. What about working 40 hours just to pay for the finance charges on your credit card which are in addition to working to pay for the things that you purchased that created the finance and interest charges. Maybe the answer to some of these questions might be ‘yes’ but it’s worth asking the question.


10. PLUG THE HOLES AUDIT: Go through all your bank statements, receipts, bills etc and see where your money goes. Don’t dismiss any small amounts. If you seriously want to make some changes then plug the holes in your ship. The small holes draining away your potential savings could sink your ship. Look at every option and try to work about how to save $5 here and there. You might find cheaper house insurance that cuts $10 a month off your bill, what about grocery savings by menu planning and shopping with a list, what about using cash only when you’re out. How about driving less or changing brands of deodorant, bread or internet provider. There are THOUSANDS of hints and tips waiting for you out there when you are ready to make the change.

THE RESULTS: Having your family budget under control means that you have freedom. You can sleep at night without financial stress. You can spend freely, knowing that you have amounts in spending categories already there in your money tin when needed. If the kids have an excursion, need new shoes, are going to a birthday party or are playing sport, you can be confident that there is money to cover it. You know that planning your meals and squeezing your grocery budget is worth it for the end of year holiday that you have each year. When you have the money aspect of your life under control it frees you up to think about chasing your joy and living a more sustainable, family centered life.
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A Vision Splendid
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