Reviewing Your New Year’s Financial Goals & Four Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Thrifty Thinking

Money Pic 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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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  1. Raechelle says

    Ha ha ha! I have gone through the EXACT same dilemma the last several times shopping! We’d made the switch to some organics, such as carrots, apples, finally the milk, and of course spinach – all things we could buy “cheaply” in bulk at Costco. The eggs in organic (for a family of 7, eating Atkins) just made me cringe. (We buy about 10 dozen a month! – it’s a big cost difference.) I watch every single penny. But like you, I’ve been reading, reading, reading, and cannot fathom subjecting my family to the “conventional” garbage polluting our foods – just to save a few pennies. BUT – when you’re trying to pay off 100grand, in one year, with one person working a blue- collar job. (the list of steps we’ve taken to make this happen is quite long.) but the food… Going to Trader Joes to buy a few things – I’d get physically exhausted trying to make purchases that soooo went against our budget. Yes, we mentally are more than “ok” with it, but it’s really challenging making the change for meats, other dairy products, condiments… as we go further and further, it was getting more challenging. We’re learning how to make our own condiments now (like mayo – since we use so much and the organic versions are such a small amount that it’s not cost effective to buy organic.

    • says

      Hi Raechelle, Thanks for visiting and for your honesty!

      I thought about adding to the list about reducing time eating out,but I had already changed the title twice from two to four tips. It really is a budget sucker, as you are well aware.

      Yea, the Costco organic apples can be cheaper than conventional at other stores.

      Making your own is huge. I don’t know if some of your kids can come along side and help you, but my girls (6 and 8 on Easter) motivate me to make more food than if I were alone in the kitchen. I wanted to make sourdough bread for pb sandwiches for the kids’ lunches. They think those silly sandwiches are the greatest. So I didn’t feel like making the bread, but when Ellie (the eldest) helped get the ingredients out, it all came together really quickly. It’s the little things that really add up. Plus, I get more time with our kids this way, otherwise it’s them in one room, and me in the kitchen.

      I totally understand the physical exhaustiveness. I only homeschool twice a week, so I really admire you! I have a three year old who, at times, distracts the girls (he actually does really well for the most part, playing quietly with his LEGOS. Sometimes before dinner I just want to sit down and say, “I am done for the day”. Not the greatest, especially when the family needs me or food, but it’s reality. Then I choose to pick myself up (may be slowly) and tackle dinner or the dishes, etc….

      Can you borrow instruments? Or talk to the instructor and see if there are older students who aren’t playing more, who might be at the high school and could rent or sell them to you cheaper??

      Blessings this weekend! Happy Easter, and I hope you feel like you can start tackling the debt.

  2. Raechelle says

    Anyway, totally agree with everything you’ve blogged today. We’ll have to go back to adding musical instrument rentals and lessons to our budget because that’s necessary to get into the only school I’ll allow the kids to attend in our district (same district you’re in.) We can’t afford private so I’m homeschooling this year. UG. So, in order to get two children in this public school, we’ll be adding costs again. Frustrating. (Yes, so very happy she’ll be learning music, in a good school, and we’ll get to hear her practice – love having music in the house – but the frustration of NOT getting the debt down…) Wishing you a good weed and know you’re not the only one with these challenges. LOVE your list – you are totally correct. I will need to clean out the fridge. (Really overwhelmed now with homeschooling the two middle school girls, and two toddlers at home.) We have been eating meals out again just because we’re so tired – that’s our major failure. We can’t get ahead if we eat out. Husband is working 7 days a week to get ahead, but then we fall behind. (short term only – only for a year, not forever – we know the value and NEED for rest.) Anyway, the point is that I’m wrestling with massive guilt for eating out and wasing all his hard work, which only puts our our goal achievement.

  3. says

    I totally relate with the fridge tip. When it’s not cleaned out, food easily gets forgotten and spoils. Saving money is increasingly challenging these days. Great post! Following you now on twitter and also tweeting and pinning! Have a lovely day. Neighbors About Town Blog

    • says

      Hi Kris! I totally agree about how difficult it is to save money, especially when you have kids! I does allow my faith to grow. Thanks for visiting and following!

  4. says

    Great post. I can relate – especially to keeping the fridge clean. We struggle with this – we don’t like to waste but the clutter hides things! ~ Kristin

    • says

      Hi Kristin, We are really trying to clear the fridge so nothing hides. It really does save a lot of money if you do! Thanks so much, and thanks for visiting!

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