During January and February, I challenged myself to stay within a $200 out-of-pocket budget for our groceries, health/beauty and cleaning supplies.
I challenged myself for a couple of reasons.
First, January and February are our family’s lowest cash flow months. Cutting the budget allows us to not take as much money out of savings.
But more than that (and that is a good enough reason all by itself), I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting “lazy” in my couponing/strategic shopping.
I wanted to make sure I wasn’t in a “I’ve always spent $300 – so I’ll just keep spending $300” mentality.
And here is what I found.
- It is possible for our family to stay within a $200 budget every month.
- In order to stay in that amount, I would need to shop at a minimum of three stores every week – with some weeks shopping at four or five stores.
- I will have to create and stick to a weekly meal plan.
- I will need to take advantage of the drugstore sales/deals each week. They provide not only deals for FREE or cheap health & beauty items, but food as well.
- We will run out of things in our house. We will go without if the item is not on sale.
- I will have to monitor my spending and prices like a hawk – because a $10 mistake is 20% of my weekly budget.
So….Will I stay on a $200 budget?
It was a good exercise, but I realized that the amount of running around to stores, the planning, and constant diligence were not good for our family long term.
Which reminded me of something I say in every one of my coupon classes…
Do what is best for your family and compare yourself to no one.
We could survive on a $200 budget, but it isn’t the best decision for our family.
I’m in awe of my friends, who are super coupon-ninjas, and their amazing Dillon Mega-Event shopping trips. Sometimes I get envious, but then I realize that driving to Lawrence isn’t the best decision for our family right now. Maybe someday, but not now.
Only you know what is the right for your family. A challenge every now and again is a good thing. We can see if we have become complacent or lazy. Sometimes an adjustment should be made and some times it’s smart to leave “good enough” alone. And each season of our life can bring a different answer.
So, while I will be more mindful of my $300 budget, I’ve determined that it’s better to leave “good enough” alone.
(And I’m thankful I get to buy Oregano at Costco this week.)