Since we are nearing the end of the first quarter of the year and have just entered into spring (hooray!), I thought this would be a great time to think about our New Year’s financial goals. Are you keeping up with your New Year’s financial goals? Have you fallen off the financial wagon? Or did you even make New Year’s financial goals?
I always have JSarr read over the posts in which I talk about our personal finances, so he has approved this message. We want to save money this year. Great goal, right? Honestly, I am a bit frustrated with where we are financially right now. It’s not that I’m discontented in any way with our family income, but I will say that we have made a few financial choices that has caused us to save NO money so far this year. In fact we have less money than we did at the beginning of the year. If we were to change these decisions we could save about $10,000 this year. The financial choices we’ve made include private choir for Ellie, dance for Abbie, swim lessons for all the kids, private Classical Christian education for both girls, and purchasing more organic foods. I believe the Lord will bless us for these decisions, and indeed, He already has. The girls are growing in their faith and learning a ton at school. And God has given us a semester’s worth of the girls’ tuition back in taxes for this year (which we’ll put in savings). Praise the Lord! Amazing! It also helps to have a business like this blog where we spend more than make, so it helps us from a tax standpoint (something I didn’t anticipate when we first started). You can read some other tax saving tips here if you are interested.
Jonathan and I had a monumental talk 2 weeks ago about food that has financial implications. Fred Meyer had its half gallons on sale for $1 each, and I was totally tempted to buy it because it was so cheap, but my conscience was telling me for us we shouldn’t buy it anymore. I told Jonathan that I thought we should switch to organic for the time being in our transition to buying raw milk. We were already buying organic milk at least every other time we would buy milk, so we were already in transition. With what we have both been learning about milk, we thought we needed to stop buying conventional milk. The conversation made me TOTALLY happy and COMPLETELY sad all at the same time. I was excited to be transitioning more to organic foods and voting with my dollar for quality foods, but I hated the thought of buying more expensive food and saving less money. I DO want to buy a half gallon of milk for a dollar, but I want to buy quality, and guess what folks, I can’t do it. If you want to have quality foods, you have to pay for it.
I keep harping on cutting the grocery bill (you can read more about what we spend in groceries here), because no family is immune to eating, and I think it’s the place with the biggest flex where we can save the most. We parents and adults constantly need to provide food for our families and ourselves, and since most of us don’t eat 100% off the fat of our own land, we’ve got to rely on some sort of outside provisional source.
So here are the changes and frugal tips that we are implementing and/or reinforcing so we can start saving more money again. They may seem obvious, but we all need a good reminder once in a while.
Four Tips for Trimming the Grocery Bill So You Can Bank More Money:
- Grocery shop based on your need for perishables. The less we expose ourselves to the temptation of buying things we don’t need, the less we will spend. When we go out for perishables, we also buy pantry staples as needed. For our family this is also causing me to be more purposeful about using the perishable foods that I do buy, which leads to the second tip.
- Keep the refrigerator clean, and I am not talking sanitary, (although that is good, too:). The more you keep the refrigerator clean and clear the more you can keep good fridge inventory…and you don’t waste as much. If you see some food in the fridge, then you are more likely to use it. If you keep the refrigerator filled to overflowing, a LOT can hide in the depths, and even grow and multiply. Eww! When produce starts to get a little soft but it is still usable, smoothies and soups are a great way to incorporate that vitamin rich produce that otherwise might have made its way to the garbage or compost pile.
- Eat ALL of your leftovers, and freeze what you don’t think you’ll eat in a timely manner. We are really good about eating our leftovers about 90% of the time, but I want to be even better at it. Do you ever leave something for a couple of days, and then a couple of days later start questioning the quality of it, and then a couple of more days later start ignoring it only to have to open the container up while holding your breath? I just threw away a soup that has been in our fridge for over a month. It actually didn’t smell gross but it was incredibly oily. Do you ever keep something in your fridge way too long and just keep ignoring it?
- Write out some kind of menu plan. I’ve been writing a loose menu plan since the start of the year, and I think that meal planning (even loosely) has helped me keep our grocery bill more on track since I am using dried beans, steel cut oats, and the like. It helps me be more efficient with our food and leftovers. Do you meal plan? If not, may be you should consider meal planning.
I hope some of those tips are helpful to you, but returning to our main point, if you haven’t made any financial goals yet, now is a great time to do it.
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