Jennifer is a Albertan single Mom on a mission – to save enough in one year to make an extra payment on her mortgage. With four kids, a modest income and a second goal of creating a buffer fund, can she eek out $1500 to make that pre-payment and if so, will she actually apply it to the mortgage or will she take herself to an all-inclusive in Jamaica instead? Follow Jenn on her “adventures in savings” as she cuts coupons, corners and possibly her own hair to prove that making an extra mortgage payment every year can be done! New to this series? Start here !
The Week In Review
Hello friends! Last week I splurged a little and had lunch with the family at the 50’s style diner, Redline, in Spruce Grove. It’s a super family place where you can play pool and pinball with the kids, plug some quarters into the jukebox and have yourself…wait for it…a Happy Pop!
Yes, sir! Remember back in ‘81 when on summer afternoons before a birthday party or a trip to the lake, any given Edmonton Dad would roll on over in his K-Car to the Happy Pop Depot and arrive home with a crate of jewel colored beverages?? Oh, the excitement over what to have first – Cherry, Grape, Rootbeer or the classic Orange or Cola! You could while away an entire Sunday afternoon with the simple pleasure of fighting with your brother for the last Lime Ricky and it would have been a day well spent.
Speaking of simple pleasures – food definitely tops the list for me. I’m what you’d call a Hillbilly Foodie – I love to cook and bake but nothing too fancy. For me, the winning recipes are the ones that taste like home. The ones that stir memories so deep that you don’t actually remember them in any great detail, you just know how they made you feel. Like Happy Pop.
Clearly, food has a hold on me that exceeds it’s simple fueling function so tackling the grocery budget is a little scary for me. This is hallowed ground, my friends – I try to buy organic, I buy good quality breads, butter instead of margarine, and I always get a roast for Sunday. I’m an emotional eater and I’m good with that ( but thanks Oprah) so do I really want to sacrifice these things for an extra mortgage payment? We’ll see.
This Weeks Challenge
To begin, I scoured the web for ideas that might help shave some dollars of my monthly grocery expenditure while not requiring me to sacrifice the things that are important to me. Here are the top three:
1) Shop on a bi-weekly basis instead of every week or worse, every day.
As of late, I’ve been falling into the “worse” category, shopping nearly every day. The non-spending days have helped but my addiction to Safeway is still a problem. The theory is that the more times you visit the stores, the more opportunity you give yourself to go over budget with “extras”. A gander at the bank account proved this to be true. I thought I was only spending about $800 a month but it seems the number is closer to $1000. Now I can stop looking for those pants I left that $200 in.
2) The No Shop week
I love this article from the blog Echos of Laughter about how to make the best of your food budget. It’s called 10 Best Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Couponing. I particularily like the “no shop week” idea. It’s like Iron Chef – see those cans at the back of your pantry – that’s dinner tonite – go! Even if you can only get by for a half the week – you’ve cleaned out your cupboards and stretched your dollar as far as it can go. Be sure to read the rest of the article for even more great budget friendly ideas.
3) Lists seem to be useful
Have you heard of these? Apparently if you use these babies, you only leave with what you came for. These ‘lists’ come from something known as ‘meal planning’ which helps you do things like make two meals at the same time and use left overs cleverly.
Actually, I jest – I’m not a ‘listy’ but I do love to meal plan. A wonderful book by Laurie David called the Family Dinner has given me so many excellent ideas about making dinner more important, more nutritious and more fun and one jem I found was to theme the daily dinners.
For instance, at one point, I was doing Souper Saturdays, Kids Kan Kook Night, ( otherwise known as KD & hotdog night), It’s-Wednesday-So-We-Must-Be-Eating-Sushi-Night, Are You Talkin’ To Me?? Italian Night and of course, Taco Tuesdays and Roast Beast Sundays.
It made meal planning easy and certainly kept things focused when your in the meat isle at Superstore. I think I will return to that practice and even add Let’s Go To The Replay, Bob Fridays where we’ll practice the ‘no shop’ rule on a smaller scale and eat the left overs I will have created through diligent use of ‘meal planning’ and ‘lists’.
Using these techniques, I am hoping to bring the food budget back to $200 or less this week, roughly saving me $50 while not sacrificing the kind of food that is important to me and my family.
Total Amount Saved
$76 Last three weeks + $50 This Week —————————————- $ 126 – three digits – yeah!
Have a fabulous week!