Holly over at Club Thrifty recently admitted that food is her budget buster. I think a lot of us can relate by the looks of the comments. I know I can!
Ever since we moved, we’ve been a little disappointed to realize that sales are not the same here as they were back home.
We see a lot of “buy one get one free,” “buy one get one half off,” and other variants of that. I don’t really gravitate toward these deals, as for the most part, we’re good with one item. I always have to check the fine print to see if you can get the sale with one item, or if you have to buy the specified amount.
There have been one too many times we ended up paying more than the sale price because we didn’t follow the “rules” of the sale.
That’s not my idea of a good time at the grocery store. Trust me, I spend enough time there as it is. I’d much rather see a flat sale price for an item, and decide for myself if I want to get more than one.
In any case, we have to face the inevitable: food here isn’t cheap. The prices are not what they used to be. Even though we moved to a lower cost-of-living-area, there are still trade-offs to be made.
Which brings me to my point – when was the last time you adjusted your budget?
Increasing our grocery budget
Like Holly, we’re planning on increasing our grocery budget, only it likely won’t be temporary. Trying to fit our old grocery budget into the prices we’ve been seeing is simply not possible. We tried really hard to make it fit, but we’re both tired of the stress it’s causing.
Our grocery budget is kind of average to begin with, but since R has two stomachs, I try to maximize it any way I can by scouring for sales. I haven’t said that’s not a sale! so many times in my life.
In the face of reality, we’ll be increasing our grocery budget from $250 to $300, possibly to $320.
I have to note, too, that it seems as though grocery prices are going up all over. Yay, right? Not even just groceries – the article claims all sorts of prices are on the rise, including gas and air fare. Gas prices have been decreasing since we moved here, so that at least makes me happy.
The benefits of adjusting your budget
In light of this, I think it makes sense to re-evaluate your budget from time to time. Things change, and budgets don’t have to be set in stone. That’s one of the great things about them! You can adapt them month to month based on what’s going on in your life.
The key is to not go overboard – remain realistic. You don’t want an increased grocery budget to result in spending more for the sake of spending, you want to continue buying intelligently. In our case, I’m increasing our budget because prices have increased. We’re buying the same amount as before, but our total is higher because of higher prices.
Budgeting can be difficult for some people because they don’t want to feel restrained. Evaluating your budget on a monthly basis should give you more freedom. By looking at what worked, and what didn’t work, you can build your way to a budget that suits you.
For example, if you found yourself going over budget in your restaurant category, ask yourself if you were being realistic with the number in the first place. If you have a family of four, and your restaurant budget is $50, that’s likely to mean dining out once a month. Is this something you think your family can accomplish?
Be honest with yourself as to what caused the over-spending. Should you allow yourself a little more leeway, or do you really need to stop spending?
Mindful spending and my last-ditch efforts
I practiced mindful spending so far this month, and it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference. I think as long as you’re doing that, you should adjust your budget to account for possible changes.
Call me crazy, but last weekend I even went shopping at Kroger while I was visiting my parents (we don’t have any nearby). My mom loves the store, and the few times I’ve been in there with her, I saw decent prices. Everything was so much cheaper!
It’s quite possible prices near us are higher solely because we live near a major city. My parents live in an even lower cost-of-living-area, and I guess their prices reflect that.
I’ve decided to shop near them as a last-ditch effort. My parents have a huge cooler, and we were able to transport everything back fine.
I would never purposely travel out of my way to get better prices; at that point, gas probably eats up the difference. But we’re going to be there every other weekend anyway, so we might as well take advantage of it. July is going to be a weird month as it is, with me being gone for a week and a half. R will be shopping just for himself! We’ll see if that even makes a difference (I’m betting not).
When was the last time you had to adjust your budget? What categories needed tweaking?