Why is it that I feel like I have more month left than money? I find this so absolutely insane, crazy and nutty. At the beginning of this month, I remember feeling that all was good in my financial world. But, then the crazy ‘this or that’ was needed and subtracted from my checking account, and things began to look a little less ‘wonderful’. YOU KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT! I am talking about those crazy ‘unplanned and unexpected’ debits that pull the rug out from under your feet- Your darling daughter needs a new dress for prom! Your under wire bra goes crazy and starts poking out of the seams and prodding you in the most uncomfortable of places! Your son has TOO MANY text charges on the cell phone bill, and your 3 darling cats lift their noses, and tails in the air, at the ‘food you bought on the fly’! So, to keep the peace you MUST immediately run out and purchase food to please their most particular palates.
With a cup of strong coffee in hand, I sat down, to ‘check out’ my ‘financial situation’ for the last week of the month. I promise you, that my checkbook looked at me with a ‘frowny face’ and squealed loudly lest I had any big spending plans up and coming. The ABBA song, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY did come to mind, and just in case you don’t know the lyrics, here are a few which will completely relay to you how dumbstruck I felt as I looked at my checkbook: “I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay! Ain't it sad, and still there never seems to be a single penny left for me! That’s too bad”!
Now thankfully, I was raised in a home where the Proverbs 31 woman was read by my father to myself and my 3 sisters on a weekly basis- I kid you not! I am convinced that my dad thought that by reading this Proverb repeatedly, at least one, if not all of us would become the ‘modern day ‘ example of this very industrious, and virtuous woman! Let me share a few of her many talents, which my dad was hoping we would aspire to:
- She selected wool and flax and, worked with her hands
- She provided food for her family
- She bought fields and planted vineyards
- She worked vigorously
- She made linen garments and sold them in the market place
YOWSA! This was one incredible lady! And as I sat pondering this amazing woman, I decided to develop a CRAZY STRATEGY to stretch my dollars and cents, not only to last until pay day, but to have some left over before pay day even arrived. Please be advised! I am a woman who does not shy away from a challenge… I will squeeze a lemon until there is not one drop left to squeeze, and like the Proverbs 31 woman, who I am sure made a most fabulous lemonade, I can ‘one up’ her with my sweet southern style lemonade, sure to make your lips pucker then relax to a sweet southern smile! So here is my strategy, and hopefully some tips that will help you stay away from the craziness of the MONTH END “NO MONEY MANIA”!
First of all, I would like to introduce you to one of my best friends, “GOOGLE”! Google will be your friend too! My first task, being that all of my bills were paid, and I only had to purchase groceries for my family of four, was to set a total amount for each meal that I could use as a guide for menu planning. This was a daunting task as I have picky eaters and an immense budget constraint. I decided that I would like to make a goal of spending only $7.00 per meal. All right! I can already see some of you saying “NO WAY JOSE”! Well, I am here to tell you that it is not only possible, but if you will use a little ingenuity and creativeness you CAN make it work. SO, I went to Google and typed, “Meals under $7.00”. I hit the mother lode, and found a plethora of sites and information, and invaluable resources. I found that I could make healthy, budget conscious meals, and still give my persnickety eaters something they would definitely eat and be happy about. First task, meals under $7.00- check!
Next, I made a list. Being that I can go CRAZY in a store, I find that a list keeps me on task! No easy job! I actually hear the voices of chocolate, or a fabulous pastry from the deli, or a cute little blouse on the rack, and they are all screaming, “BUY ME”! With a list, I resist! I buy only what is needed and avoid the unnecessary items that are dying to jump into my cart. Second task, list- check!
Onto the next item on my ‘menu, it was something I swore I would never do: the clipping of coupons! My mother clipped coupons when I was a child, and I remember spending HOURS in the grocery store finding the correct item and the coupon that would fit. I am certainly exaggerating, but as a child any trip to the store taking longer than 20 minutes was TOO long. But on the day that I sat staring at my check register, I decided that coupon clipping may not be such a bad idea! Thank you mom! So wriggling with anticipation I ran to a market two blocks away to get the Sunday paper. I do make a practice of ONLY clipping coupons that I will use and that match an item on my list. By clipping only what I need, it saves me time, and the temptation of spending money on unnecessary items. Third task, clipped coupons- check!
So, with list in hand, I was off to the store and I decided that I would attempt to purchase store brands if they were available. I have a horrible confession to make! I was once a food snob (I hear your GASP) but now that I am on a budget I am not so snobbish, that I refuse to purchase store brands. Store brands save money, and 9 times out of 10, the store brand is just as tasty as the ‘Product Brand Name’ we pay for. I challenge you to compare prices the next time you are shopping. You will be shocked at the difference you can make in your total cost just by purchasing store brands. Fourth item, purchase store brands if available- check!
So, now April has started, and my plan for the ‘$7.00 and under meal plan’ week was hugely successful. I cut my weekly grocery bill almost in half and I had money LEFT. I refused to pout about the lack of money, and instead considered it a CRAZY fun challenge in a financially challenging time to learn to provide wisely for my family, and stretch those dollars. I felt almost like the Proverbs 31 woman!
I challenge you to give YOUR checkbook a sigh of relief, and try a menu makeover, Who knows! At the end of this month your checkbook may say…. "Well done! NOW, go and buy yourself a chocolate bar!"
Menu budget- smart, grocery list- organized, clipping coupons-wise, buying store brands-good thinking… extra money at the end of the month- PRICELESS!
Love, laughter, and Happy Shopping,
One idea for a $7.00 and under meal!
“Hamburger helper” Using a box of store brand macaroni and cheese, and ground beef, with some added spices- onion powder, garlic salt, or whatever you prefer!
Store brand broccoli and cauliflower mix
Everyone was smiling, and none the wiser that I had spent under $7.00!