One thing that we need to do consistently is shopping for groceries. No matter how monotonous and boring it gets, someone in the family has to do it, it turns out to be me in my family.
Even though I don’t enjoy it that much, the part I try to enjoy most is how supermarkets sublimely advertise their products and prices— for example I observed that the entry in all supermarkets is welcomed with green veggies and fresh bread. Idea being-the greenness of the veggies and the smell of fresh bread makes us more refreshed and hungry, making us want to buy more.
Once we finish filling trolley with these goodness, subconsciously it relieves us of guilt to buy processed food. Looking back in memory, it explains why I never felt fulfilling when I shopped at local shops and smaller food stores.
No matter what the bigger giants try to advertise, I felt it was my job to make sure that I don’t spend more than what I budgeted for.
Accepting my lethargy, it is this area of my life that I have neglected for some time.
Only after analyzing my monthly expense, I realized that I was spending way more than required for a family of two.
I live very close to shopping center, in a way it was convenient, saves time and fuel– but the savings didn’t really make my bank account.
I used to go for grocery shopping at least twice a week, mostly walk down to the grocery shop, purchase what I need and walk out.
Sometimes I used to buy groceries for dinner on my way back from work, meant I was shopping while I was feeling hungry which was breaking the fundamental and most important rule of grocery shopping “Never shop when you are feeling hungry”. As this would add more items like quick snacks, chocolates etc., which are mostly unnecessary.
Decided to curb this financial leak, on a week-end I have designed the following system.
First step in controlling your grocery budget is to know how much groceries you need versus how much you are spending.
Once this dollar amount is known, it makes sense to swap this with frugal products or other alternatives as part of budget cutting.
The process that I followed below took me 2 hours to set up but was worth the time spent in terms of monitory value.
This gave me an idea of $ value I need compared to $’s I am spending.
This is the technique that worked for me, you may not have to follow the process dot to dot but might give you more ideas for preparing your own grocery budget.
To do my calculations I relied on Excel and was able to extend a Free Microsoft Excel template to suit my need.
- Start with an excel document or any similar calculable software (Downloadable below). Create four columns, Item, Quantity, price, total in this document.
- I went through the list of all the item in pantry and fridge made a note of all these items in excel (column item), ex this list included milk, bread etc.
- My supermarket that I go regularly for shopping has an online shopping facility with all the items and their prices, I marked down all those prices in excel against column Price
- Once I made a list of all the items, I knew how much of an item I need per month, placed this value against Quantity column.
- Calculate the total column which is nothing but Price* Quantity.
- The hard part is done all you need to do is calculate the initial estimate for the budget required. Sum up all the rows in total column this will give you initial estimate for the budget.
or skip all the above steps of creating excel and download the template below
Dont forget to click on ‘Enable Editing’ once you have download the file.
If you observe there are two sections in Grocery Budget Excel File, Grocery Total (purple) and Budget (Blue).
The amount in Budget is 20% more than the Grocery Total, this is what I call Insured Motivation Factor (IMF).
Insured Motivation Factor (IMF) is adding some amount of contingency to any new habit that we are introducing to our system.
If you keep the goal too ambitious(tighter in this case), than where you are, you are faced with a higher probability of loosing interest in it all together.
You will have more success if you push your comfort zone one inch at a time.
I suggest to leave the value at 20%, as in my case i didn’t include a lot of items, either forgotten at that time or underestimated the quantity.
Once you know the budget and monthly groceries you need, it’s easier to skim the dollars and plan the shopping accordingly.
- Know your monthly grocery needs
- Then estimate a budget based on needs.
- Start skimming the budget by looking at frugal products and house hold wastage.
If you haven’t done this before why not plan it as a family fun activity this weekend.