Many peoples’ belts are a little tighter these days, and not just from the Crunch & Munch Buttery Toffee Popcorn found in the dollar section at the Dollar General off of Mountain Road.
Prices may fluctuate a bit, but they are trending higher and higher. Most people I talk to are saying they’re finding it just about impossible to stick to their grocery budget. Not to mention the rising expense we’re paying just to get to the store in the first place!
Thankfully, most of us still don’t have to worry about where our next meal will come from. But there might be some things we can do to lessen the pinch (and the anxiety) we’re feeling when our dollar doesn’t stretch quite as far as it used to.
I picked up a few good habits when I was getting out of debt that have served me well over the years. One, I threw away my Kohl’s credit card and learned to enjoy shopping at thrift stores, even though all of the cute Loft items I come across are always size small. But I find some really nice things and can get seven pieces of clothing, a book, and a Blu-ray movie for forty bucks. Not too shabby. I also learned to take advantage and stock up on sales at the grocery store, and I always use the store’s coupon app to maximize my savings.
Since getting married, I’ve kept these habits in place and tried to steward our money well. Except when I don’t. Amazon, you’re just way too convenient! But most days, I aim to stick to our budget.
As things get harder economically, we’re also trying to be wise with our (not so) expendable income. For the past couple months, we’ve been eating out less and skipping the beer and wine at the grocery store (although we did go to the distillery last Saturday, dang it). We’ve pared down on our streaming subscriptions (just by one, but hey, that’s progress!). I’ve been mindful of how far I’m driving, trying to get all my shopping done on the same day, if possible. I’m repairing minor tears in clothing instead of just throwing it away. I’m making a conscious effort to use all the food in the fridge, rather than forgetting about it and letting it go to waste. I’ve planted a little garden in the hopes it will offset our produce bill this summer (plus garden-fresh veggies are soo good!).
Finally, my number one money-saver is not sending my husband to the grocery store. I don’t know how a person can spend twenty-three dollars on Diet Coke and Peanut Butter M&M’s, but he manages to pull it off every time!
Here’s the thing: I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So even if you’re not struggling now, it might be wise to start implementing some money-saving practices, or even just to keep these ideas in your back pocket should you need to make changes in the future.
In a culture that says “more is always better”, it can be hard for those of who haven’t ever struggled month to month to suddenly do so. I hope that’s not you, but I think most average-income households are going to have to tighten up. That’s us. It’s not super fun, but it could always be worse. For some people it already is. That twenty bucks we save by not going to the movies might be needed put food on someone’s table. You never know.
And maybe, just maybe, there’s some things we can let go of that aren’t really adding to our lives anyway. Maybe this is an opportunity to simplify and invest in the things that really matter. Like electricity. And people.
And maybe we can learn to be thankful that we have enough.
“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” -1 Timothy 6:8