Blessed is Better than Happy: Day Thirteen "Three Lessons to Limit Your Grocery Budget - The Discipline of LESS"

I used a personal (anti) shopper yesterday.  Neither one of us knew it was going to happen, we thought it was just two budget minded gals on a road trip for cheaper whole wheat bread.  I'm at an age where I kind of think I know most things about life, parenting, keeping my home and marriage thriving.  But I do not.  I am foolish and an idiot and my personal shopper gal pal taught me so much yesterday at the budget bread bakery. 

I'm trying to spend less on groceries this month.  I usually blow past our family's generous grocery budget into what can only be deemed as greedy foodie spending.  We have the money to buy expensive food, but when I consider all the poverty and pain in the world, the size of my waistline, and my desire to grow closer to God, I want to make some serious changes.  I think spending less on groceries is a good place to start.

When we arrive at  the bread outlet store Liz was introducing me too, I was thrilled to see the $3.60 bread I usually buy for $1.99!  

FIRST LESSON:  Keep looking.  

In the very next section where Liz buys her bread it was even cheaper, including whole wheat bread for $.75!  I was happy enough with the cheaper version of my bread, but if I looked a little more there was another whole wheat, still good for us but even cheaper.  Am I the only one who gets so used to buying what I buy, that I keep buying what I buy?  I want to start looking around to see what other deals I may be missing.

I grabbed a few of  both kinds of bread to spread out my money a bit and still get the denser, richer bread I prefer.  I got nice bagels, pita bread(YAY! I can barely even find that in the regular grocery store!) and maybe powdered donuts for the girls I ate half the bag.

Then we headed to Meijer on the way home.  It was a last minute choice as I was out of Smart Balance spread, Almond Milk and a few other things.  Liz had time and we were right there so in we went.  It was REALLY NICE to have her help me wrangle the girls through the parking lot.  So we wandered through the produce aisle and in order to be cost conscious I do not buy organic apples.  I figure if I buy even half of my fruit and veggies conventionally grown I could save a bundle. Liz has prices at Aldi's memorized, and even knows apples are going on sale for $1.99 this week, as opposed to the conventional apples here for $3.99.  I'm embarrassed to admit the organic Gala apples I usually  buy cost twice as much. 

I also realized once in the store the "quick trip for a few things"  became "Oh my!  I'm here and we need EVERYTHING!"  It wasn't a planned trip, I had a tiny list, but I started remembering we were not only low on fruit, but needed stuff for a dinner later that week and ooh!  Cookie dough!  Meanwhile, Liz busts out her iPhone calculator and asks if I'd like her to keep a tally for me.  


A tally?  I've heard of using a calculator  to mind the grocery budget, but I never have.  I usually just cry a little at the register and hand over the debit card.  I wonder if THAT is why we blow past the budget by several hundred dollars a month.  Every month.  (NOTE: our "grocery budget" includes household items too, not just food. Lest you think we are cretins.) 
Yes I tell her, please tally. I'm starting to use Dave Ramsey style cash only for my groceries this month.  I have to stay with what I have on hand since my debit card now lives in our lockbox.  I've misplaced $20 I put in my pocket that morning so we know I only have $58 cash to work with.  With Liz as a witness I'm certainly not going to swipe the credit card on my first cash only excursion!

SECOND LESSON: Use a calculator.  Even if you are clever and not lazy/bad at math/imaginative in your rational, you cannot lie to a calculator.  As we shopped and Liz kept me aware of my rising tally I had to make the hard choice to put down the new can opener and the mint chocolate chip cookie dough.  Because we used a calculator (and rounded up) the only surprise at the register was coming in under the estimate of $48 for a total of $46.

Some of you cannot trim your grocery budget any closer, I get that.  This post is just about a few simple and obvious tips even those of us who know it all *cough, cough* may be be forgetting.  
Beautiful Liz, Rarely Caught on Camera!

And the THIRD LESSON: There is deep satisfaction in less.  I learned with the help of Liz, my good friend and accidental ANTI personal shopper that not buying anything I wanted to throw into my cart made me feel immensely satisfied.  I chose carefully what was worth buying that day ($5 for a one pound bag of Za'tar Middle Eastern Spice blend I love and can never find/too tricky to make!)and what could wait(mint chocolate chip cookie dough.*sigh*).
Actually being mindful of how much I was spending,  making wiser choices and having money in my hands leftover was so thrilling for me.  I didn't leave the store ashamed for my gluttony.  I wasn't nervous about the high tally on the receipt.  I discovered the obvious benefit of using a calculator and enjoyed the happiness that informed spending can bring.

Thank you Liz, for your time and intelligence.  For your patient friendship with me.  You are a great mother and run a strong household.  Thank you for teaching me these lessons and supporting me without judging or teasing me too much for my shortcomings.  I didn't know how to let you know how much you helped me yesterday, so I figured I would tell the blogosphere instead.  When you start charging for your  Personal Anti Shopping services, I'm going to pay you in cash, OK?  Or will a Diet Coke still do? 

Anyone have questions for Liz about your grocery challenges?  I'll ask her for you when you leave your question in the comments below!

For More of this Check out the other Blessed is Better than Happy Posts:

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