So you can’t stay on budget either?

June 14th, 2008 by katie

Came across this awesome budget tip from Wisebread’s Jason White.  The reason I say this is an awesome budget tip is that I am pretty bad at staying on budget at the grocery store and I think this method can help me.  Over the years, I have tried all kinds of tricks to keep myself on budget.  I’ve tried setting hazy budget “guidelines,” to keep me from feeling hemmed in, to actually withdrawing the exact cash amount allotted for the trip (with the theory that once the cash is gone it is time to stop shopping-yeah right).  The trouble is that while I can get very close to and even stay within my budget at times, this happens purely by luck and not by any real effort on my part.  Which, of course, means I can also go totally overboard with no real idea of how to control myself.  The reason Jason’s strategy may actually help me is this:  I rarely have a method by which to estimate the amount I am spending until I am at the cash register.  As far as I am concerned, once it’s been loaded on the belt, rung up, and bagged there’s no going back. 

With this method, however, I can keep a running estimate that ensures I come in under budget.  And-here’s a novel thought-when my virtual total equals my very real budget amount, the shopping trip really is over.  Or as Jason puts it:     

When the shopping cart is full, or your list is complete, grab your calculator and multiply the final total by your tax rate to estimate sales tax owed. Add this amount to your running total for grocery purchases. If this amount is less than your food budget you’ve done well. If not, return to the aisles to look for cheaper alternatives, or move that steak dinner to next week’s menu schedule.

Jeez, Jason, way to make me feel both greedy and irresponsible…

Another good reason to keep a running total: junk food is expensive.  When a $4 bag of chips is staring at me from the list and I haven’t even gotten to the milk aisle yet, I might just forgo the chips all together.  Or maybe I won’t, but the point is it’ll have been a less impulsive choice to use 1% of my grocery budget on those chips.  And, Jason is right, often there are cheaper alternatives that I don’t consider.  I have a tendency to need everything on my list.  I don’t stop to think about alternatives because I need it all, right now.  I need all of the stuff I put in the cart that wasn’t on the list too.  I didn’t realize I needed them at home but now I do.  Only, if I actually forced myself to make a choice, I could make substitutions.  I won’t willfully go over the budget, so knowing beforehand that I am at my spending limit really will make a difference in the way I shop.  Hope, wish, hope!     


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One Response

  1. read more

    I do trust all the ideas you’ve introduced
    on your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are very quick for beginners. May you please prolong them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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