Friday, November 16, 2007

Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Four

I actually feel like a bit of a fraud posting on reducing the grocery budget at this time of year. I tend to find myself a little tempted and waylaid by all the fancy goodies the stores have out. LOL. I get a bit *too* festive and out the window go all my good intentions. :-)

Anyway, I will plow on with what we did in order to reduce our grocery budget and more than likely it'll be a good reminder to myself of what needs to happen. :-)

If you haven't yet read the first 3 posts in this series or would like to refresh your memory, you can find them here:

Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part One
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Two
Reducing the Grocery Budget - Part Three

Now last week I think I promised to start giving you some actual suggestions on ways to reduce the grocery budget. What I want to write about today may not seem like a proper tip but in a way it's a really BIG tip that covers many categories. I want to talk about needs vs wants and my experience has been that acknowledging the difference between the 2 can make quite a big difference to the bottom line at the checkout.

This can actually be quite a confronting topic. Partly because the definition of a "need" vs a "want" can be quite a subjective and controversial subject. But mostly because I believe in western societies we have lost touch with reality when it comes to what we really NEED. (My apologies to anyone reading that isn't residing in a western society - I can't comment on your situation so you'll need to make up your own minds here).

Now don't panic on me here. I am not suggesting here that you *SHOULD* reduce your grocery spending to bare bones physical needs. What I am suggesting though is that we all need to take a good hard look at WHAT we buy and WHY and begin to recognise more just how blessed we are.

As human beings, we really hate to think of ourselves as being deprived. If we're feeling deprived, the temptation is to go out and spend more money in an effort to prove to ourselves that we're not "deprived". Then of course, we no longer have that money, something has to give somewhere else and in the end we become more "deprived" than when we first started. It's one of those vicious cycles that we really want to avoid if at all possible.

So I found that I needed to reduce our grocery spending without us feeling deprived (to avoid an unecessary spending circle). And let's face it, how many of us have really EVER been truly deprived? The great thing about understanding how blessed we truly are is that it can help with reducing spending across all of the budget categories (not simply food).

Understanding the difference between needs and wants was one major way that we accomplished reducing our grocery spending without feeling deprived. My current spending of $100 a week is not even close to being a "bare bones, only what we need" budget. I purchase PLENTY of wants as well. Like I said, I'm not necessarily asking you to not purchase ANY wants. Just identify them and be realistic about what you're choosing to do. Be real about calling a want, a want.

Another way in which our family worked on this was to put up pictures of our sponsored children and some other projects we have supported on our family room wall. Every time we come in our back door, we have a visual reminder to us of how much we really do have. It has been a very effective strategy for us in increasing our thankfulness and awareness of how many things in our life are wants rather than needs. And how many people in our world struggle on a daily basis just to meet their basic needs.

Please don't think this is about guilt. I don't believe in giving out of guilt. To me that is the same as obligation (see my post yesterday for my feelings on giving out of obligation ;-) ). It's about awareness. And it's a great way to encourage contentment. Contentment is a hard emotion to grab hold of, but when you're there - it truly is one of the most worthwhile feelings you could ever experience. I'm sure if you could bottle it, you'd make a small fortune. LOL.

So that's my suggestion for the next stage in reducing your grocery budget. Go through your shopping trolley (or supermarket docket) and identify how much of what you are spending is on needs and how much is on wants. Start to identify how blessed you really are and see if it makes a difference in how you view your shopping trolley and what kinds of things you put in it.

Now on occasion I have mentioned in my posts a website called Simple Savings. You can join their free newsletter at their website. They also offer a paid section to their website. I mostly tend to avoid websites where you need to pay in order to get information. It seems almost counter productive to frugality to me. And there are plenty of websites that will offer great ideas for free. For some reason I decided to pay the membership fees for this particular one. I think because they have a money back guarantee with their membership. I'm actually really glad I did. It gives you access to a vault but the most valuable part of it I have discovered in recent years is the forum where members get to discuss ideas on how to save money and support one another in all kinds of ways. Membership fees are $47 for the first year and then $17 to renew each year after that. The reason I am mentioning them now is that they have a sale on until 11pm Sunday 18th (Australian time - I'm assuming EDST but not sure) for $35. So if you've been contemplating taking out a membership, now is a great time to do so. My apologies to those non-Australian readers. This is an Australian website and may not be of as much interest to you (I'm sure you'd be welcome to join though if you wanted to).

If you don't wish to purchase a membership, I'd still recommend you sign yourself up for their free newsletters with great tips. After all, you can't go wrong with free. :-) Here is a link to the website:

(Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link. There is an explanation of how affiliate links work in my sidebar. My comments however, have no bearing on the fact that it is an affiliate link. If you are concerned about this, go directly to their website rather than via the link above.)

Over the coming weeks I want to work my way through the categories I listed in my original post on this topic. Non Food, Fruit & Veg, Meat, General Groceries and Treats (have I covered them all?) Does anyone have a preference for which category you'd like me to start with?

A list of other Frugal Friday participants can be found at
Biblical Womanhood.


fitcat said...

I have read the SS newsletter for several months now (and have gone through all the archives) and finally bit the bullet when the membership went "on sale" - I'm considering it a birthday present to myself and an investment in our future. :)

River said...

I separate my needs and wants via a two column shopping list, one headed essentials and the other headed extras. I buy what we need first, do a quick add up ( I write the price beside each item), then pick one or two items from the extras list if I can afford it. Been doing this for over twenty years now.