Our families like to eat, therefore we need food to feed them.
But perhaps what makes the chore so unpopular is that one limiting number: the grocery budget.
Lori Chillingworth with Zion’s Bank Women’s Financial group shares suggestion to help you stick to your budget and a few ways to stretch your food money more efficiently.
It can be nearly impossible to set a blanket dollar amount for a family’s food budget. What I recommend is that you allot 5-15 percent of your total budget for food. As with any budget, the first step is to determine how much you are currently spending and then analyze your spending habits. Examine your current methods, how you shop, what you eat, and be willing to make changes. When setting up your budget, you may want to create separate categories for food, household cleaning products or other supplies (toilet paper, light bulbs, etc.). It maybe useful to divide the food budget by meal (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner). For a sample monthly spending plan.
It can be nearly impossible to set a blanket dollar amount for a family’s food budget. What I recommend is that you allot 5-15 percent of your total budget for food. As with any budget, the first step is to determine how much you are currently spending and then analyze your spending habits. Examine your current methods, how you shop, what you eat, and be willing to make changes. When setting up your budget, you may want to create separate categories for food, household cleaning products or other supplies (toilet paper, light bulbs, etc.). It maybe useful to divide the food budget by meal (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner). For a sample monthly spending plan, click here. The most important thing is to start tracking your spending in categories that make sense in your life style.
Once you’ve set your budget, it is time to consider tactics to help you stick to the budget. Here are a few I’ve found useful in my own life:
• Do not, I repeat, DO NOT shop without a list for exactly what you need! Discipline and planning are key, however discipline is the hardest of the two.
• Don’t shop while you’re hungry. You’ll be more tempted to buy food you shouldn’t if you are hungry and your guard is down.
• Avoid last-minute impulse purchases at the checkout for things like magazines and candy bars, and whatever else they’re trying to sell you… including nail clippers, camera film and batteries. Unless they’re on sale, you’ll always do better at the discount stores for those items.
• Bigger does not always equal better. Beware of big “value size” packages. Compare unit price. This is the price divided by weight or volume. For instance, if two items are priced at $2.49 but one is a 10-ounce package and one is 12 ounce, the 12 ounce package is cheaper.
• Read the price labels. Try to buy only what’s on sale. Sometimes a name brand will be on sale for the same price as the store brand or vice versa. Don’t be brand loyal.
If you find yourself having trouble sticking to your budget, it may be time to consider some frugal tips from the experts. Many savvy shoppers say a freezer is a frugal shopper’s best friend. An investment in a freezer will enable you to purchase large quantities of on-sale items and freeze them for later use. This is especially useful for meat, poultry and fish. You can save money by stocking up on sale items, just be careful to note the expiration dates.
If you find your menu and budget stretched by picky eaters it is time to banish picky eating from your table. Toddlers can go on food jags and be incredibly obstinate but do the best you can. It will not damage kids physically or psychologically to insist that they try one bite of a new food, and don’t immediately give up on it if they tell you it’s “yucky.” Most kids have to try a food several times before they decide they like it. Put a stop to raiding the fridge for something that looks better. We have all learned to like foods we once thought “yucky.”
Sale and coupon shopping are other avenues to try as well. Each week there are usually two different coupon inserts in metropolitan newspapers with a third insert available once a month. Having multiples of each coupon enables a shopper to take advantage of the great deals in bulk.
There are many web sites out there that allow you to track sales, trade coupons and much more.
Lori Chillingworth is a regular contributor on Studio 5. When Lori began her career in banking, almost 20 years ago, she knew she wanted to become part of the lending area of the bank, to assist small businesses. As she worked diligently to get into the small business area of lending, primarily dominated by men, she recognized the struggles small business, primarily women business owners, had in communicating and obtaining financing from financial institutions.
In 1997, Lori joined Zions Bank and opened the Women’s Financial Group. This group has been dedicated to helping, not only women obtain capital for their businesses, but to help the bank understand the needs and communication necessary to be successful in reaching the women’s market. The WFG group currently has offices in Salt Lake, Boise, Idaho Falls, Utah County and Weber County.
Lori believes the key to financial success is through education. She provides seminars and presentations to women throughout Utah to help them better understand money matters. Not only Women Business Owners, but all women who want to better educate themselves so they can have confidence in making decisions in regards to money. She also educates financial institutions and other organizations on the importance of the women’s market. She believes it is the responsibility of professionals in the industry to continue to provide educational programs to women. Most recently she has spearheaded the production of free conferences held in 2004, 2005, and 2006 at the Salt Palace, entitled “Smart Women Smart Money”. Zions Bank was the major sponsor of this function, and speakers and workshops addressed issues central to women and their financial needs. The same program for September 27, 2007 is now in the planning stages.
For more information about Zion’s Bank Woman’s Financial Group visit www.zionsbank.com.