I went to the grocery store today, on bike, to buy some food. Pretty simple. I planned a menu, made a grocery list, and went on my way. These days, I've been making an effort to stay on budget, in this example with food, because I believe there are a lot of things I can make from scratch which hopefully translates into a big potential for savings. The problem was, my menu consisted of a grocery list of items and a few ideas in my head. And my budget was not concrete, just me knowing how much I had in my checking account. I really had the best intentions but I am quickly learning that staying on budget is difficult!
With that said, I've come to the conclusion that living in Seattle is expensive. It is expensive in every way. Buying a house is expensive, especially the turn of the century craftsman home I keep admiring down the street. Owning a car, thankfully I don't have to drive it as much as I use to, is expensive just to own outright let alone insure and maintain. The temptations in the city are abundant including the desire to be fashionable, to go out to eat, and to find entertainment- movies, zoos, museums, music, etc. Now, it's not that I overindulge in any one of these areas, by my standards, or go too far in way of giving in to these temptations, but they cleverly find their way into my life probably a bit too often than I would like. And when you want to save money, this doesn't help much. Money over mind or mind over money, which one is it?
I once heard of a woman who gave up buying things, apart from the essentials (she set a budget for food and made her own meals from scratch), for one whole year and ended up saving herself eleven grand. Not bad, right!? I came to learn she had a pretty good life during this time. Instead of going out to eat she ate home-cooked meals with friends. Instead of going to the movies she took her dog for a walk in the park. She found museums that offer free entrance certain days of the month. She learned to be happy with less. So, today, as I came out of the grocery store, after being frustrated at how much I spent, I decided that I want to be more intentional on how I spend.
It's a fact. For most of us it isn't easy spending less but I am going to have to find a way to be more creative because I do value good food and want to make sure, no matter what I purchase, that the product is genuine, made well, and that I place a priority on where the item came from and how it was made. With food, grocery shopping is still possible at PCC let's say or the local farmer's market, I just have to have a plan, and get the most of my purchase.
My conclusion, create a budget for everything. How annoying, but when I have a budget I automatically prioritize. I plan on withdrawing cash for the week and not overspending the amount I've alloted myself. As for entertainment, I am going to eat out less, have more dinners at home with friends and family and keep non-planned trips out and about to a minimum. When it comes to clothes, I plan on relying more on thrift stores to get some of the basics like jeans, slacks, and shirts. After all, I've been finding some pretty good deals! Lastly, I plan on spending more time planning menus for the week, not creating a menu on a whim, but being thoughtful about how I can make my food stretch. I want to find ways I can create bigger cost savings in the types of foods I am buying, while still eating whole and healthy foods. One example would be yogurt. I eat yogurt all the time and I could save a lot of money making it myself. I know making ricotta cheese is easy, even cream cheese. I am thinking about baking my own bread, buying a whole chicken on the occasions I buy meat, and using the bones for stock for soups. Roadside and local fruit stands are great places to buy seasonal produce, over farmers markets which can be expensive, depending on where you go. I will begin documenting some of the ways I am saving money on my blog so you too can save money and be happy living with less.