Now that I have resigned from teaching – see my reasons here – I’ve had to take another look at my budget.
I usually pride myself on being careful with money but in September, with less money coming in, I will have to be even more careful.
I typically spend £85 a week on a main shop – food, cleaning products, toilet roll etc – plus another £10-£15 a week to buy fresh items as needed. I don’t feel that’s too bad for a family of six, but it is a total of £100 a week which is a large amount of my budget. If I could save £25 a week on shopping and so do the main shop for £60 a week, it would mean an extra £100 in the bank account each month. A big difference when you’re on a tight budget.
So, with this in mind, I set off to do my main shop today with a budget in my head of £60.
I wrote a list of meals for the week before leaving:
- Chilli and rice
- Roast Chicken, potatoes, yorkshire puddings and vegetables
- Fajitas and salad
- Cottage pie with carrots and broccoli
- Pasta bake
- Fish, chips and peas
Then, using the meal planner, I wrote a list of ingredients that I needed plus items for lunches and breakfasts. The aim was not to buy anything that wasn’t actually needed to see how realistic a £60 budget was.
The total shop came to £56.24 and that included toilet rolls and washing powder that I don’t buy every week, although I didn’t buy tins or rice as there was enough in the cupboard. Even if I have to spend another £19 stocking up in the week, I have still managed to do the shopping for a family of six for £75 (and that includes buying meat and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables).
I had gone to my usual shop but reduced it from my typical £85 to £56, so shopping on a tight budget isn’t easy but, I believe, it is possible.
My main tips to achieve it are:
- planning meals ahead and buying only those ingredients
- buying frozen vegetables as well as some fresh ones
- not taking children with you (if possible) as they tend to see items not on the list and ask for them
- before you put any item in the trolley, ask yourself if you really need it
- look at the reduced sections to see if there is a bargain there – you can always freeze it
- buy large packs of meat and split them into small bags rather than two small packs
Despite the first bullet point, I have to admit that I did succumb to a packet of chocolate digestives to satisfy my sweet tooth. (They are safely hidden at the back of the cupboard away from the children!)
I aim to stick to the budget of £60 a week for the main shop plus £10-£15 stocking up shops, as this will save me £100 a month to put to one side over the next five months before I leave teaching. Also, if I get into the habit of shopping on a tight budget now, it will be easier when I have to in September.
For more on managing a tight budget, see my ‘Managing Money in Three Easy Steps‘. Hope it helps.