So far in this series, we’ve talked about: how there is no one right way to set up a grocery budget, how much you should spend on groceries, and how to track how much you’re spending.
Today, I want to tackle one of the most important parts of sticking with a grocery budget… namely, how to actually stick with it!
You can have all the best intentions in the world, you can set up an amazing grocery budget, and you can create a really good accountability system, but if you don’t actually follow through with it, you’ll never be successful at grocery budgeting.
Before we talk about some practical tips on how to actually stick with your grocery budget, I want to first address three things I don’t want you to do. Because if you do any of these three things, it could keep you from being successful in following through with your budget.
1. Don’t Make Excuses
I often hear people say things like, “I can’t have a grocery budget because we live in a high cost of living area.” Or, “We can’t stick to a grocery budget because we have variable income.”
Here’s the deal: You can sit there and make excuses or you can get up and do the best you can do with the situation you’re in and the income you have. It’s your choice.
If you need encouragement for setting up a grocery budget — even if you have a weird or difficult current life situation — be sure to read the comments on this post where folks all over the country tell about where they live, how many people are in their family, and what their grocery budget is. I think it will really inspire you.
You can do this, too! Nothing’s stopping you from success except your own excuses!
2. Don’t Stress Over Making Mistakes
Remember, if you’re brand-new to budgeting, you will make mistakes. You will probably find that there are times when it’s more difficult than you think it should be.
You will probably go over-budget some in the beginning. This is normal. This is how you learn and grow and get better.
When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t call yourself a failure. Don’t throw up your hands and decide that this grocery budgeting thing isn’t for you.
Remind yourself that this is part of the learning curve, think about what you can learn from you mistake, and consider what you need to change or do differently so you don’t make the same mistake again. And then give yourself grace and get back in the game!
3. Don’t Worry if You Have to Tweak It
You will likely need to tweak the budget as you go — especially if you are new to budgeting and just picked a number that you think will work. As real-life happens and you are actually trying to stick with this number that you had initially thought would work, there’s a good chance you’ll find you need to change it.
That’s totally okay and acceptable. In fact, I always tell people that it usually takes 3-6 months when you’re brand-new to budgeting to really figure out what a good number is. Tweaking is part of the process!
In addition to the initial tweaking, you’ll also want to tweak your budget as your needs and your family changes. As time goes on, if the number you have chosen just isn’t working and is making your life miserable, it’s 100% okay to tweak that number again.
Like I said earlier in this series, a good grocery budget is one that works for you and your own family. So be sure to regularly re-visit the number you’ve chosen to see if you need to change it.
We’ve significantly increased our budget the past two years because that is what was best for our family. I don’t feel guilt about that. Instead, I’m grateful that we can do what is best for our own family and that we’ve found a grocery budget amount that works best for us right now.
2 Simple Tips on How to Actually Stick With Your Budget
Plan Your Menu With Your Budget In Mind — Think about how much items cost and keep this in mind when you are planning your menu. If you have no idea, start keeping a price book to help you learn the general prices of items so you can better gauge how much the recipes you’ve chosen on your menu plan are going to cost.
Use a Calculator At the Store — One simple way to save money on your grocery bill is to always bring a calculator with you when you shop. Since I use cash when I shop, it’s important to keep a tally of how much I’ve spent so far so that I don’t get up to the register and not have enough money to pay for my groceries. Keeping a running total also encourages me to carefully evaluate all purchases as I put them into my cart — and it helps ward off the temptation to make impulse purchases on things I don’t really need to buy.
For more inspiration:
- Brigette’s $39 Grocery Shopping Trip + Weekly Menu Plan for 6
- 2 Proven Systems to Track How Much You’re Spending on Groceries
- 6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low — Without Using Coupons
What help you to stick with your grocery budget? Do you have any great tips or tricks? I’d love to hear!