Smart Budgeting and Grocery Shopping For 2

Apr
24
2013


This is a Guest Post By: Mr.CBB is the voice behind Canadian Budget Binder who says that “It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it”.  Mr.CBB shares budgeting tips, frugal lifestyle, relationships, recipes, parenting, personal finance and so much more for his over 4500 fans all around the world. After all “money is money, debt is debt” no matter where you live. Come join him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

mr-cbb-quote-oct-wm-1I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy to spend just $235 a month on groceries for the two of us. In fact, we make mistakes with our grocery budget just like the next person. Sometimes we fall prey to in-store deals that weren’t part of the weekly flyer sales and that we did not plan in our shopping list.

From UK to Canada

When I moved to Canada from the UK back a few years ago, I had no idea how much food cost. I had no idea what kinds of foods were offered in the local grocery stores, nor had I ever seen so many grocery shops in my life. Everything seemed so foreign to me including the language (even though we both speak English). Like the budget, learning my way around Canada took some time and I’m still learning something new every single day.

The Frugal Couple

My wife and I never used a budget; in the past we have both been frugal from a young age. I managed to go to University and paid cash for that while working every chance I could. There was something about school that came easy to me and I got bored, so working was the next best thing to do and it made me money, so why not?

I bought my first home at age 21 because I wanted in on the housing market as soon as I could. I bought my second home just a few years later. My wife was a bit later than me but bought her first home around the age of 29, but with a healthy down-payment that she had been saving for years.

We both came into our relationship with no debt because of our frugal ways. Money was also a topic of discussion early In our relationship especially since personal finance was a big part of our own lives.

Who Needs a Budget?

One thing we did not do was use a budget — there are many people who feel they don’t need one and that’s ok. We were part of that group who really didn’t think they needed to budget since we were “smart with our money”, so we thought.

While I went back to school (shortly after I arrived in Canada), in my free time I would surf the internet. I found this website called save.ca that would send coupons right to our mailbox. I signed up and away we went, and coupons started to arrive in the mail. I got used to clipping coupons and then eventually we started keeping a close eye out at the supermarket.

While my wife was at work it was my job to do all the grocery shopping, so away I went with my coupons and flyers to get the best deals. Although I had no bloody clue what the best deals were in time I started to learn. It’s so important to know what stores sell products that you typically purchase and which one has the best deal.

Once I figured out the pricing system in Canada and how each store valued their products grocery shopping became easier for me. We were stockpiling items using coupons but not a lot since we didn’t have space where we rented. We rented to save more money to put down on our first home together as husband and wife.

When we bought our first home we had far more space and more bills, but we were used to that as we had both owned our own homes previously. One thing Mrs.CBB and I both had in common was that we didn’t want to go into debt, nor did we want to hold a mortgage for any longer than we needed.

We became the frugal couple, using coupons and stockpiling but also shopping in second-hand stores and trying to save as much as we could. That was never enough for us so we decided to start using a budget. We designed a basic budget for us but over time we realized we needed to modify.

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How We Designed Our Budget

From that point we designed a “10 Step Budgeting Series” on the blog to document what we did to put our budget together to help us along the way and others. Sometimes it helps to see your vision come to life on the screen or by using boards in order for it to make sense. One couple we know uses a visual puzzle board they created in order to track paying off their mortgage.

Psychologically seeing the money we save helps us to feel good about how we are attacking our debts. One thing we noticed when using a budget was that it was forever changing especially as we kept learning more about our personal finances. The hard part for some people is they have the “I want it gone now” mentality but sadly with that attitude you are only fooling yourself. It took time to build the debt hole and it takes time to get rid of it.

We can relate to the “Gazelle like focus” that Dave Ramsey speaks of and that a fan brought to my attention. It’s a way of thinking about seeking out your prey and going for it while not looking back. It’s an intensity with-in that spurs that drive to get it done. It’s similar to losing weight; the more that comes off the harder you will work to reach your goals. Why stop when you lose 10lbs when you want to lose 20, you are half way there so go for it.

One thing we did notice was how much we were spending on groceries even though we thought we were savers. Although we were piling up the savings in terms of not spending as much as we would have if we bought it at regular price we were spending more in general than we should have.

The Grocery Game Challenge

 

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Once the budget was in place we budgeted all of our expenses and away we went. Some months are harder than others and like everyone else we need motivation to stay on track. We decided to hold ourselves accountable for our grocery shopping by posting a weekly post every Tuesday on my blog called “The Grocery Game Challenge”.

This challenge has since taken off and many fans from around the world have joined for free so they too can save money in their grocery budget. You can see exactly what our budget is and what we spent it on. The fans also track discounts; coupons used, and can add to the list whatever they feel they want to track to keep their budget in tact.

We break it down, shop by shop and you can see all the numbers. It’s that important visual I was talking about earlier that helps as well as the fans offering tips and suggestions to get us back on track.

Our Grocery Budget

Our grocery budget for 2013 is $235.00 a month plus a $20 stockpile budget for items we buy in bulk if they are a great price and we know we will use them. If we don’t use the money in the stockpile budget we just put it back into savings and move on to the next month.

If we have any money left in our grocery budget at the end of the month the money gets set aside into a “rendezvous” account for Mrs.CBB which is set up for us to splurge or take a trip once we reach a certain amount.

The fans motivate us and sure we fall off track just like everyone else. The month of April has been no exception and we are working hard to get back on the budgeting bandwagon for May. We have to learn to say, “No, we are on a budget” and try to avoid the marketing ploys of the shops and by-pass them but it can be so hard.

While holding ourselves accountable we have not only started to meal plan which has saved us more money but we have also continued to use a shopping list and track our expenses in our budget each week.

The biggest improvement was also cutting out the foods we don’t need to eat and creating and cooking homemade meals as much as we can. The recipe creations have spurred me into posting one recipe each Sunday on the blog for the fans which have become fairly popular.

We also have fans sending in their own recipe and write-ups to share with the CBB community. We cook as a couple which helps us bond in our relationship and takes us to higher levels of understanding each other and our commitment to work as a team.

I also put together some free downloadable templates for us and the fans that will help keep us all organized. I’m always adding to my free downloadable lists as we design more lists to help keep us on track. We use all of our money saving tools and have found value in each and every one of them. Below are a few of the lists I have available for free to the fans.

Free Money Saving Tools to Save Money in Our Budget

  • Price Comparison Grocery List
  • Freezer Inventory List
  • Furnace Filter Tracking Sheet
  • Garage Sale Route List
  • Product Price Adjustment Sheet
  • Overtime/Work Hours Tracking
  • Shopping Needs List
  • Pantry List
  • Custom Meal Plan
  • Custom Meal Plan and Shopping List

The best thing we did for our personal finances and our grocery budget was to set up and design our own budget. Using a budget has allowed us to see exactly where our money was going and enabled us to control that spending. Since using a budget we have saved enough money now to pay our mortgage of $265,000 while still in our 30’s. Our house is also now worth $100,000 more than we purchased it for just 4 years ago.

It’s not easy but it’s also not difficult as long as your mind is in the right place. If you think negative that is all you will get, negative results. I’m sure Tony can tell you how staying on track takes positive reinforcement after paying down $100,000 worth of his families own debt.

It’s a way of life for us and if you can learn to balance your wants and needs whether it be at the grocery store or in every day life you too can save enough money to work towards becoming debt free so you can wake up in the morning and not have the stress of debt on your shoulders.

Saving $235 a month on our groceries is a big part of our overall budget but I believe by tracking all of your expenses you too can get a grip on how much to spend on groceries and what foods you truly need to have in your pantry.

 

Comments

  1. Mary F. Campbell says:

    Hi! Mr CBB sent me today. I’d guess you say I am one of his regulars. :-) Hanging out at his site has helped me in a number of ways. I always budgeted, but my Dad was a banker and taught me from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper that you pay yourself first, you save at least 20% of your gross income for the future and that you never ever touch your savings. Mr CBB has further helped me modify my budget to track my savings. It really is exciting to realize how much you have saved by employing some frugal methods. I love the grocery game challenge! I have realized a lot about myself: I have learned that by keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer, what I am buying for the current week is a lot less most of the time than what I am stockpiling. Some recent dietary changes have forced me to look at this! I can shop my pantry first and stop buying all but a few basics for probably about 6 months. I will transfer the unused funds to a re-stock account so that I have the cash on hand when I need it. The priority at our house is to shop our pantry and freezer first until we exhaust the current supplies. We have lots of great food to choose from and there are only 2 of us. So the challenge is not only to eat well, eat well at home but also to set up my re-stock budget. I tend to shop the sales and use some coupons but as I receive no paper flyers at my home, price matching is difficult. Fortunately, from one end of my town to the other, I have about 10 different grocery stores within 10 minutes in either direction from my home! Mr CBB’s freezer and pantry inventories are great. It’s a perfect way to make sure you haven’t got expired or freezer burnt items that are being wasted. C’mon out and join us! I am sure you’ll find something to help you keep a little more of your hard earned cash in your pocket, something we all enjoy! :-D

    • Thanks Mary for your kind words as always. You have been an inspiration for both Mrs.CBB and I when it comes to our own budget. Sometimes we fail, and that’s OK we learn from our mistakes. You are probably one of the most organized person’s I’ve ever not met in my life. Thank you for all that you do and I’m glad CBB has become the place where people are safe to discuss their finances with a group of people that help out even when I’m not around. Cheers Mary!
      Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…Is Budget Failure Your Own Fault?My Profile

  2. Great Post Mr. CBB!!

  3. This is incredibly thorough. Thanks for taking the time to make such an excellent and helpful post. We budget for groceries too. No meat really helps and so does eating the same 3 meals each day. That way, we simply check our receipt from one store against the prices at another, saving a lot of whining and deliberating.
    cj recently posted…Why My Kyocera Brio Kicks Your iPhone 5′s AssMy Profile

    • We try to incorporate meatless meals in our meal plans as well as it does cut down on expenses. I think many overestimate the amount of meat that our bodies need which isn’t as much as we think. Meal planning and motivating ourselves as a couple to create recipes has been fun. We tear the kitchen apart, make messes and enjoy our food. That makes it worthwhile. IF we look at grocery shopping and preparing meals as boring and uneventful then that’s about as much as one will get out of them. We enjoy hanging out in the kitchen! Cheers mate!
      Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…The Grocery Game Challenge #4 April 22-28 ~We Blew The Grocery Budget Up!My Profile

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Mr CBB has been so much help and support in my battle to get a handle on things here as health issues have caused some major changes to our lives and our finances. He and the others that frequent his blog are there for those of us that struggle and to offer the help and encouragement that is needed……Thank You……

  5. Thanks for this! Groceries are definitely a huge drain on our budget.
    Bethany @ Journey to Ithaca recently posted…My Challenge for May: Plugging the Online Time DrainMy Profile

  6. Tammy Burke says:

    Thanks for this awesome article!!! I am a huge fan of Mr. CBB I stay in the back a lot but am learning every day from his posts and he inspires me like crazy!!! I get up in the morning, log into Facebook and his page is the first I go on to see whats new. I am building up my confidence and will be writing a story for him….soon. Only thanks to Mr. CBB, I have recently started my own biz and look to his blog for tips, anything I can find to help me. I love the fans, we have grown to be quite close, some of us. All I can say is thank you Mr. CBB!!! You are the best <3. My fav is Whats for dinner. I love to cook and share my dinners with so many wonderful people!!

    • Oh wow, Thanks Tammy for all the kind words. This was lovely to long into this morning. It’s times like this when fans come out to share how we all motivate each other to make better choices or to move forward with projects like you have with your business just from tips and ideas we all share. I also enjoy ‘What’s for Dinner” as it gives me that part of the day to interact on a personal level with my fans. Cheers Tammy!
      Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted…Do You Really Need Cell Phone Insurance?My Profile

  7. Great post and loved the pictures!
    Tom King recently posted…Great How-To Video On Teaching Your Dog To HeelMy Profile

  8. Mr. CBB sent me! I follow him everyday on facebook, and now twitter. I have learned so much about money, saving, mortgages, and budgeting (which I am working on improving). And the fans at CBB are like one big family. Interacting, sharing recipes, pictures, and comments all day long.
    Great post by the way!

    • Thank-you Wendy for coming over to read my guest post on Tony’s blog. Over the past year I can tell just by the way you talk on FB and comment on the blog how you are welcoming the knowledge and putting it to work for your budget not only from CBB but from the other fans and blog posts from PF bloggers I share! Thanks for hooking up on Twitter as well. I’m sure you will be a pro at it.
      Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…Do You Really Need Cell Phone Insurance?My Profile

  9. Katrina B says:

    I needed to read this article Mr.CBB! I use coupons and price match but I can certainly do better. Excellent post.

  10. The grocery game has helped so many people, self included. I never thought I’d be able to cut our grocery budget so much, but it is possible, and actually fun. Finding a sale or close-out you can use with a coupon is great entertainment!
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted…Eyes on the Dollar 20/20 Roundup #35- Goodbye to an Old FriendMy Profile

  11. I commend you for only spending $235.00 a month on groceries. I have such a hard time trying to cut down on our grocery bill, but I’m not giving up!! I’m using coupons and cutting back on meat, so hopefully that will help. Thank you for posting!

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