I have actually been working on a "planning your first budget trip to the store" post but I was unable to finish typing it before I had to go shopping! I will finish it because it's nearly done, and there may be someone else out there going through this. Maybe it will help them...
I made my first trip to the grocery store with my budget! I had built myself up over the past couple of days thinking this wouldn't really be that hard. People shop on a budget all the time right? I can do this too... Well I have to say, it was MUCH harder than I thought it was going to be! First off, the sale paper that I had been checking? Was for NEXT week. What a shocker that was when all the things I had marked to "stock up on" weren't actually cheap at all. I had to make some major changes in my shopping plan right there in the store.
I learned I need to start my grocery list early in the week and add to it as I notice we are out of something. I kept putting all these things I hadn't written on my list but remembered that I needed them when I saw them. Things like ketchup, brown sugar, pancake syrup. All things that we use on a regular basis. Every time I found something we were out of but it wasn't on the list, that added to what I already had planned on buying. It added on top of the $125 I had already planned out.
While I was shopping, I made sure to add up every item I put into the cart so that I would know when I hit my limit. About mid-way through the store I realized, I'm almost at budget and still need a lot more stuff. I started sorting through everything to see if I had anything I could do without until next week. I realized I had added a lot of things I didn't really need already. I had steaks (on sale but still $6,), steak sauce (only for the steaks I just mentioned, $4), extra cereal that hadn't been on my list ($4), and a couple of other unnecessary things. I should have written them down for reference but I wasn't thinking of that at the time. But it was well over $20 worth of stuff. I put all of that back and went back to work. By the time I got to the end of the store, I had to do another lap to put away the things I didn't need.
There was a lot of evaluating, a lot of mind changing, and some frustration. I was so tempted to go over budget, I thought of using some of our weekly "spending money" to cover it. Then I remembered another blogger friend telling me: Once the money in one area is gone, it's gone. I didn't want to take from the extra money when I knew I would need it for gas money and for the kiddos dentist appointment. I held strong, passed up the things I wanted, and put back the things I could do without.
As I went up to the check out I was nervous, afraid I had forgot to count something, worried I had gone over. At your grocery store, does it show you the total of everything before it takes off the money you saved by getting things on sale? Well ours does! I didn't know that, so when I saw it say something like $138 I was really unhappy... Then it started ticking down, lower and lower! I was actually under budget by a little over $6!! I was SO happy that I jumped up and down, clapped my hands a bunch of times, and said "Yes!" I even told the cashier that this was the first time I'd ever been able to stay under a budget. She wasn't impressed... But I was very happy! I can't express how great I felt.
I haven't been that proud of myself in a very long time. Now I know what to expect when I go to the store next week. And I'm going to do a couple of things to better prepare. Like starting a list today and being sure I have the correct sale paper.
A huge thank you to everyone who gave me words of encouragement and support this past week. I can't tell you how much it helped. I find confidence and strength in the fact that there are people out there waiting for me to report back in. It makes me feel empowered knowing these people have faith in me.
One last thing, if you are in the same boat, if you are struggling with a grocery budget or any kind of budget really. Just know that you CAN do it. You can stay under budget. And when you do, you will feel like a million bucks. Have faith in yourself and just do it. You'll be glad you did!