Groceries on budget

Doing groceries on a budget can prove to be a difficult task. Without knowing how to squeeze the most out of your dollar, it can be hard to fill up your cart for under $100. With things like pre-made meals and small portion sizes, you may find yourself looking for a cheaper alternative to feed yourself and your family. The trick is to capitalize on things that super markets often don’t advertise.

Things like price matching and sale hunting can drive down the overall price of your bill by at least 10%. If you’d like to save money without price matching, try certain techniques you can use for everyday shopping. First and foremost, stay away from the pre-heated meals section of your grocery store. This section is overpriced and is meant to entice you with the smell of cooked chicken (which tends to be overpriced due to heating/cooling costs). Any foods that have been prepared by your grocer are a waste of money.

For half of the price, you are able to buy the exact same thing, uncooked. Look for food items such as canned foods and pasta to get the most bang for your buck while shying away from things like pre-made meals and TV dinners if possible, as they are usually the least bang for your buck. Not only can you save on groceries by price matching, but you can also save by just taking 30 minutes and reviewing the sales for the week in the flyers you receive at your home. It’s amazing how much you can save by just buying items on sale. More frequently than not, ½ of the foods you eat are usually on sale any given week, just at different retailers.

If you take the time to look for these, most grocery retailers will honour any sales they have. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to visit our blog at http://www.accessiblecash.ca/budget-advice/

For more ideas and tips on how to save on groceries, stay tuned to our blog. We will be posting a new blog every Tuesday and Friday of each week.

The Journey Begins

 

Like most of us, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. To get a dollar I had to spend the day gathering up pennies. I never won the lottery, or ran into a family inheritance, in fact, I’ve never even found more than a quarter on the ground. Money came from hard work, and the occasional visit from my grandma.

At 15 I landed my first job as a department store clerk. With absolutely no bills, or costs of living, life suddenly became surreal. I felt invincible. I don’t know if you remember your first paycheck, but I do. I got it at four, and it was gone by six. Looking back on it now, I have no idea where it all went. At 16, I was proverbially smacked in the face by “life”. I remember my first encounter with the phenomenon known only as…bills. With my cell phone and the “occasional” party (every weekend), my money had the tendency to just vanish.

After a few months of spending wildly, I started listening to what my dad had apparently been trying to teach me since my conception, the idea of budgeting. Although I was only 17 at this point, I was living like I had a million in the bank, a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. After sitting down and learning the ropes of budgeting, I was able to span out my money for 2 weeks, instead of 2 hours. This meant doing the impossible, or so I thought. I started keeping track of where my money was going, and suddenly I no longer felt like a magician whose only trick was making his own money disappear. In a way, learning how to budget money set me free from pinching pennies the day before payday (we all know that feeling). By 19, my savings account had grown to over $5000, without any outside contributions from anyone.

The day of my 19th birthday, I chose to move out, thinking I was ready and knew it all. Without creating a budget beforehand, my 5000.00 turned into .99 cents, like magic. My new place came with new bills, and expenses. Keeping money proved to be harder than keeping your girlfriend happy. Through thick and thin, I’m now realizing that making a budget is not a choice, its more than that…it’s necessary. If you’ve ever read “NSF” (non sufficient funds) on your bank statement, you know exactly what I mean.

The easiest way to make a budget that works for you is to total up your monthly take home pay. Deduct things like rent, food, transportation, savings, and of course, spending money. Finding money for yourself in your budget is the glue to the collage. Without giving yourself spending money, you’re bound to drive yourself loopy. If I can manage my finances at 19, anyone can. Good luck out there folks, and spend responsibly.

If you have no idea where to start your budget, visit http://www.accessiblecash.ca/budget-advice/

Reward System

As we are always reminded of budgets and spending within our means, no one ever mentions how you should reward yourself. Why should you reward yourself you ask?

I’ll tell you why! We all have bills that come in and must pay, but we also need to feed our happy side (you know the one where you don’t think of money). Feeding our happy side is making sure we spend time with loved ones, friends, and doing the things that make us breathe a sigh of relief. I remember when I was paying off debt and not rewarding myself.

Even though I was paying off debt, I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything positive. This was because I didn’t find it important enough to reward myself. This is when I realized that I had to keep myself motivated during the process. So I started to think; how can I do this? I had allocated $300 a month to pay off debt. The $300 was all my surplus income. I didn’t keep anything over and above that to spend on myself.

So what I did, I still paid $250 to debt, and kept $50 a month to spend on myself. Now I don’t mean that $50 was used for anything specific, but it was there for me to buy whatever I wanted cash. NO cards, NO debt, NO stress. If I wanted to go buy a video game or even buy a piece of jewelry. The reason I use those 2 examples you ask? Both of those items can be purchased for under $50. Now that you have allocated your reward money, you should remember, that if you want to make a bigger purchase, it’s just about disciplining yourself to keep the money you put aside for more than one month to buy something more expensive. Want an example? You want to take your spouse out for a romantic dinner or a special weekend getaway, but its more expensive that the money you put aside monthly for rewards and you don’t want to incur interest by using your credit card. Ask yourself; do you need it now? Will it affect your life negatively if you don’t get it right away?

By putting your $50 a month aside for 8 months, you can afford to pay for your console cash! What a reward that is. Knowing that you were able to discipline yourself to save money and get what you wanted is just the beginning of living life without excessive debt. Budget your money and keep more of it working for you. How many ways can your budget save you money? Read it in our next blog about the advantages of a budget.

First Steps to Financial Happiness

Helping your financial freedom

1. CRUCIAL STEPS TO BEGINNING A BUDGET

The majority of us don’t like to admit the fact that we are not able to properly construct a budget that works for us. You hear everyone telling you that you need a budget and how it can help you relieve the stress of debt. This budget plan will guide you in the right direction, giving you the necessary steps to create a budget template as well as the motivation to follow it so that you can realize the small goals you set for yourself throughout the year.

click here to download the budget planner worksheet excel xls format

click here to download the budget planner worksheet PDF format

If you look at a budget as a yearly progress report with 12 reporting periods in between, you will find that goals are being attained more than if you wouldn’t set time limits for certain aspirations.

The first step in establishing a budget is identifying what your net income is for the month.

Once this is established, focus on your monthly expenses, and what they accumulate to. This means gathering up all of your bills such as Gas, Hydro, Phone, Cable, and internet. These are usually your fixed expenses. You must also calculate what your rent/mortgage payment is each month. You then have other expenses that fluctuate such as food, gas, entertainment, clothing, transportation and medical. You then subtract this amount from your total net monthly income. You are then left with your surplus income for the month.

Once you have compiled all of your primary and secondary expenses, you can then start to analyse your budget to figure out if saving is a possibility. If not, it might be time to cut down on some of those other expenses. How you do that, is determinate of the things that you may find more necessary than others. For all of us, these priorities could be different, therefore adjust your budget accordingly based on what you are willing to modify.

Last, but not least, it’s time to enforce this budget. What this really means is that you need make sure your money is being spent properly. As simple as this may sound, this has been proven to be the most difficult part of budgeting your money.

Our own willpower is what sets apart a successful budget from a failed one. If you believe the benefits of your budget you are more likely to follow it. This is a why a reward system MUST be in place at all times during your budget timeline. Read more about rewards in my upcoming post.

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