I don’t know of any woman who likes to use the B word…budget. Who could blame us? We work hard (whether in the work place or at home) and we want no limitations on our shopping. But until money starts growing on trees, we’re all on some sort of budget.
To get ourselves on a budget over the years we have used charts, lists, saved receipts, read different blogs and books, and none of them have really worked for us. What does work…CASH. You remember, that green paper money that goes in the large slot in your wallet? Nobody carries cash any more; it’s all about the debit and credit card. But when you budget with cash, once you run out…you’re out!
On the 1st and 15th of every month, I take out my allotted amount for groceries, Costco and the kids clothing (this one I do once a month).
- As you know by now, my meals are planned a week in advance (I usually have about two weeks thought out in my head). By seeing it, in writing, I can estimate just how much I’m going to need to take with me to the grocery store. In addition, I can budget more for weeks I know we’ll be entertaining and scale back on the menu the weeks where it’s just the five of us.
- My Costco budget covers both food and household goods. Most of the food I buy at Costco is prepackaged meats which go right into the freezer and last several weeks. (See my earlier blog about Why I Love Costco)
- The money for the kids clothes goes into an envelope and into my secret hiding spot for when my oldest grows out of another pair of pants or my middle needs a new dress for synagogue. Some months I never touch it and sometimes I use it all. Either way, I know its there when the end of the season comes and I need a whole new wardrobe for my two oldest children (thank G-d I saved all my middle daughter’s clothes for her younger sister).
Every city I’ve lived in has had different grocery stores and I’ve always shopped at a few to get the best deals and prices. Here is what I’ve discovered over the years…
- Trader Joe’s has the best prices on dried fruits, nuts and milk. I also love their wine selection. Their produce is good quality but a little more expensive than most grocery stores. I used to buy a lot more there but since almost all of their chocolate went from parve to dairy, I stopped going so often.
- In Houston, I used to do most of my grocery shopping at the WalMart Neighborhood Market. The prices were great, the produce was good and the WalMart name brand items were just as tasty as the pricier brand names.
- Now back in Cleveland, I have rediscovered Marc’s (and yes, I still call it Bernie Shulman’s). While I love my fuel perks from Giant Eagle, you can’t beat the prices at Marc’s. The produce is excellent and the amount of money I save is even better. I do still stop by Giant Eagle every once in awhile. But shopping at Marc’s has made a huge improvement on my bottom line.
- Every couple months, I purchase a Groupon or Living Social coupon for Miles Market. I have an uncle who works there and texts me whenever they’re having a big sale on fish or produce. I am there every June to purchase my cucumbers for pickling (sorry, that’s a family recipe that I won’t share with the masses).
- Another place a little further away but totally worth the drive is Cleveland’s West Side Market. Looking for a hard to find spice, fruit, fish, etc? Then the West Side Market is your place. During the warmer months, it really is one of my favorite places to shop. It reminds me of the shuk in Jerusalem.
I hope some of these tips are helpful. I’d love to hear how you watch your budget and where you find the best deals around. Until then, happy shopping!