We keep a tight budget around here. Partly from necessity. As students, we have to plan carefully to keep things ticking over financially. But it is partly also from choice. We have big dreams. Really big dreams. And we realise that big dreams don't just fall from the sky (usually, at any rate). They require work. And money, invariably. So we are trying to at least keep afloat during these lean study years, and not go backwards.
The biggest ongoing area that requires near constant oversight is, of course, our grocery budget.
My secret weapon?
This is an artform somewhere between guessing and estimating. Quite useful for helping gauge whether the money you have left in the month will or will not allow you to buy those tins of Watties spaghetti on special (we only ever buy it at $1/tin and this is the week!) without running the household supplies so low you have to eat toast with peas on top for dinner the last two nights before shopping day. Okay, so that is an exaggeration, but you get my drift. The absolute hardest thing I find about grocery shopping is making sure we don't run out of money before next month (we budget monthly).
So this week was our 'big shop' week, being the beginning of the month. Once the groceries were away, I sat down with the leftover money and my shopping list...which invariably still has a few things left on it. Shopping between five different stores and buying many items when they are on special only helps save us a lot of money and make our money go further, but it does mean I have to keep closer track on what is left still to get. I took $40 for each of the remaining weeks this month and popped that into their little cash bags. That way I hopefully will still have $40 for fruit and veges in week four, rather than accidentally spending it all next week! Then I guesstimated how much the other items I still wanted to buy would cost.
Here's my guesstimating for the rest of the main shop...
I just round up or close to what I think an item will cost. Tomato sauce is about $3, a tin of tuna around $2.50, carrots might be $3 for a kilo or two...it just helps me work out whether I've got roughly enough money or whether I need to cull the list. This is helpful. Very helpful. If I do this, I'm much less likely to have the embarrassment of having to return something at the checkout because I don't have enough cash on me, or the annoyance of having to breach the eftpos card and overspend.
Got many of those items today. So far, looking good. Might leave the pumpkin till another week. Having to buy eggs because the chooks seem to be moulting and going off the lay. Never mind. I still love them. Grin.