We were never huge spenders.
Even in the good old, pre-saving days, we rarely went out for fancy meals, never bought expensive clothes (my wedding dress, at under £300, is still the most expensive item of clothing I’ve ever bought), and we were hardly living a life of luxury.
Perhaps this is why we’ve found saving money easier than we’ve expected (it’s by no means easy, but it’s been much more of a shift in the way we think about money – and how much we think about it – than an enormous change of lifestyle).
However, there was one thing which was eating up our budget (pun entirely intended), without us even realising it, and that thing was food.
I like to cook, and we eat almost exclusively home-cooked meals, which means that our weekly food budget was never completely monstrous, but since we really started thinking about saving, we realised there was one thing we could do to seriously reduce our spending – and you can do it too:
Rethink your grocery shopping
As with all of the tips I’ve shared here, there’s no great secret to this. But let’s break it down: you need to shop in the right places, and shop well. And most importantly, shop once (per week).
The where part is easy – shop where it’s cheap (duh) even if it’s slightly less convenient (we have a Lidl less than a 10-minute walk from our flat, and were still going every week to the expensive supermarket instead because we were convinced Lidl wouldn’t have everything we needed).
The most important change we made, though, was properly planning our meals. Yes, it’s boring, and takes time, but before shopping, we sit down and decide exactly what we’re going to eat for the week, and what we need to make those things.
Then, we add on any extra bits we need for the house, drinks, treats and snacks, and then we go and buy those things. And only those things.
Where before, we’d get halfway through making a list, give up and end up winging it (and finish up with a ton of impulse buys, expensive extras, and waste), now we know exactly what we’re getting.
And more importantly, we no longer end up having to pop to the shops in the middle of the week to buy things we forgot/didn’t think of (seriously, when we first started writing down everything we spent, we were amazed at how much those mid-week shop-pops added up to).
I have a bonus tip here too, which is something we did every week when we first started saving:
Before shopping, and after writing our list, we’d scribble down our rough idea of how much each item would cost and then compare it to the receipts when we got back.
Yes, I know, tedious much? But it was really useful in helping us to figure out which things we didn’t even know were expensive/we were wasting money on.
And the plus side is, all of this mind-numbing price-guessing paid off, as these days once we’ve written our shopping list, we have a pretty good instinctive idea of what it will cost – and we’re never far wrong!
So, what do you think? Is this sort of brain-boggling tedium too far, or is it worth it for the end result? I know what I think!
Next time, I’ll share the last of my tips for saving for your Big Trip, and it’s a big one.
In the meantime, if you missed any of the posts in this series, you can find them all here!