That sounds really dramatic and important, doesn’t it? Well, I sort of wanted to get your attention, because as my readership is expanding (hooray!) to people I don’t actually know in real life (holy smokes!), I am feeling a greater and greater sense of responsibility.
If you are a real-life friend and if, due to reading my blog, you start getting deal-shopping-over-spend-itis (a very common ailment among newbie frugal shoppers), you can always ask me about it at shul. And I’ll say something reassuring like, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to do every deal. It’ll come around again. I don’t even do every deal I post about on my blog either. There, there…”
But if you don’t know me in person, well, then maybe you won’t be as likely to send me an email or write on my Facebook wall. And then, the next thing you know, you’ll be feeling totally bummed out because you spent too much money stocking up on supposedly good deals, plus you hate clipping those blasted coupons, and OMG, this is totally hopeless.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, just remember this: The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to save money on your food & household items budget is… to pay attention to what you’re doing at the store.
That’s it. It really is that simple. If the coupons and the CVS extra care bucks and the stockpiling cereal are all conspiring to make you crazy, take a step back for now. For the next little while, don’t do any of that stuff. (You’ll get back to it, don’t worry.) For now, just pay attention to what you are doing at the store.
No more mindlessly throwing in stuff because “it looks good” or “hey, I didn’t know that ____ had a hechsher!” (Guilty as charged.)
No more shopping when you haven’t eaten in eight hours and therefore end up buy $40 worth of convenience foods, because you must eat within 12 seconds of walking in the front door.
No more buying a jar of mayo, only to come home and realize that you had four other half-used jars of mayo already littering the top shelf of your fridge.
No more shopping without a list. No more magazines, candy bars, or cold bottles of water — unless they are on that shopping list.
The goal here is simply to be intentional about what you buy. Even if it’s a $6 jar of hearts of palm, know that you’re buying it because you need it for a recipe you plan to make that Shabbat — and not because of any other impulse.
Perhaps you already are intentional at the store. I know I think I am.
But when I really, really pay attention to what I’m doing at the store, you know what? I save some money. Maybe it’s only $10 a week, but hey, that’s 10% off my monthly grocery budget.
And if you’re spending $1000 or $1200 a month — which I think is pretty typical for frum families with kids (at least based on the comments in this post at Orthonomics) — a 10% savings is $120/month. (Although I’m guessing that there’s more “fat” that can be trimmed by paying attention to a $1,200 budget than to a $400 one.)
Pretty cool, huh? Almost $1500 a year just by paying attention.
Imagine what you’ll be able to do when you add back in coupons, stockpiling, CVsing and freebies!