Spend a Fixed Amount at the Grocery Store Every Week or Stock Up During Sales?

A few months ago, I went grocery shopping in the morning on the first of the month, and I couldn’t believe how crowded it was.  After all, it wasn’t a Saturday morning when the usual grocery shopping rush occurs, but a Wednesday morning.

I waited in line to pay for over 20 minutes.  When I asked the cashier what was going on, she said that it was the first of the month, so many people’s SNAP benefits had just replenished.  These people were stocking up after possibly having had very little to eat at the end of the month when they were out of funds.

This phenomenon is not unusual.  Many people who are living on a tight budget (with or without receiving SNAP), after scrimping and doing without for the last 10 to 14 days of the month, are happy to go shopping and stock up.  The problem is that this stock up can consume most of their food budget, and the cycle starts all over again.

I mentioned in my last post that my family is experiencing a period of low income and a tight budget.  Luckily, I don’t foresee this situation remaining stagnant for years.  Within another year or two, my husband will be eligible to apply for a much better job, and as my kids grow up and become more self-sufficient, I should have more time to grow my freelance business.

However, for now, we sometimes run into this feast or famine pattern.  In our high cost of living area, we budget $700 a month for groceries for our family of 5.   (We have food intolerances including beans, gluten, dairy, and eggs, so we have to eat a special diet.)  The last week of the month, we’re eating an odd mix of foods, and we don’t have as many fruits and vegetables as we’d like.

Spend the Same Amount Every Day to Avoid Feast and Famine

I’ve been researching different strategies to help with our grocery budget.  One that I found is rather basic–determine how much you can spend per day on groceries.  For instance, in February, we can spend $25 a day on groceries ($700 divided by 28 days), while in May, we can only spend $22.58 per day.

If I’ve not been to the grocery store for 6 days, I’ll theoretically have $135.48 to spend on that trip, based on a 31 day month.

Using this pattern, I can avoid the feast or famine food cycle by making sure I have enough grocery money, even at the end of the month.

Drawbacks to Spending the Same Amount Every Day

The biggest drawback I see to spending the same amount every day is that there is not much flexibility to take advantage of sales.  For instance, if I normally buy ground turkey for $2.95 a pound, but it’s on sale for $2.45 a pound, I should stock up.  Maybe I’d buy 25 pounds at this discounted rate.  That right there would cost me $61.25, or almost half of my weekly budget.

However, it would save me $12.50 on ground turkey, and the stock would last us a few months.

While spending the same amount every day helps even out the feast or famine cycle, it may not be the best way to stretch your grocery dollars.  Instead, I prefer to buy on sale in bulk so I pay less and get more food, even if it means at the end of the month, each meal with meat has ground turkey in it.

How do you handle your grocery budget?  Do you set a fixed amount to spend each week, or do you set a fixed amount for the month so you can take advantage of sales?

Why I’m Not Throwing My Two-Year Old a Party

My little bundle of joy is turning two in June. That went fast! With the approach of her birthday, I have been getting asked quite a few times what the theme of her birthday party is. Of course, I said dogs because that is her favorite animal right now.

I spent many hours dreaming up an adorable dog party and even looked up amazing ideas on Pinterest. The things people come up with amaze me! There were toddler dog parties that dog biscuit shaped cookies, wiener dog shaped cup cakes, treats out of dog bowls, and headbands with felt dog ears on them. That may not sound cute to you, but trust me it was. I imagined doing all of this party prep and planning for my sweet little one, and then reality came crashing down.

Here’s the truth. She is going to be two. She would love it if she were surrounded by people and dog things, but she would also love it if we went to McDonalds and got an ice cream cone. Here is what I realized:

  1. Throwing a Party Can Be Pricey: Even when I threw a simple BBQ for her first birthday, I spent about $130 in just food and cheap activities to keep the kid cousins entertained. We are talking hot dogs and hamburgers here, not steaks or anything fancy, so I am not sure why I spent so much money. If I were to go through with the adorable dog themed party, I know I would spend over $200-300.
  2. Who Am I Really Throwing the Party For? It can be so easy to get swept up in the social media/Pinterest movement, wanting to post pictures of perfect parties and creative ideas. If I were to really celebrate Ellie’s second birthday how she would want, it would probably involve a trip to the aquarium, yummy ice cream, and a lot of playtime with mom and dad. The sad thing about these parties is that she will not remember them at this age, so basically I would be throwing this party for myself – which leads me to point three…
  3. Parties Can Be Time Consuming and Stressful: Thinking about the hours of perfecting the house before and after the party is a little overwhelming. I already have troubles trying to keep the house clean with a busy toddler, I don’t need a house full of guests to add more stress. Having nine kid cousins running through my home is also overwhelming. Some people love everything that comes along with throwing parties, but I have to accept that I am not one of them, even when Pinterest mocks me. I would rather spend the time loving my daughter.

So what is the point of all of this? I am not throwing my two year old a birthday party to save myself money, stress, and time. Parties are not a necessity in our children’s lives, but love is. I plan to make Ellie’s day a very special day, but you are not going to see it on Pinterest.

If you are the type of person that loves to throw these types of parties, then go for it. You have been blessed with that gift. For the rest of us moms, save your money and your anxiety and don’t worry that you didn’t throw your child the party of the year.

New Addition to the Beating Broke Family

Things have been a bit hectic around here over the last week or two. We had a baby!  Surprise.  I seriously realized after she was born that I hadn’t even mentioned the fact that we were expecting on here.  I guess when it’s the third child, the excitement level and having to tell the whole world aren’t as high.  :(  So, sorry about that.

We’re Pregnant!

Better late than never, right?  Never mind that it’s close to 11 months later.  Our little baby is now a little over a week old.  Insert cute picture of infant here:


If there’s one thing that we’ve noticed with the third child is that it’s so much different than the first two.  With the first one, we did the typical new parent thing and bought every little gadget and gizmo that all the ads tell you that you need to have.  We had so many clothes, diapers, and formula that we could have opened up our own infant store.  With the second one, we already had a bunch of the gadgets and furniture, so it was cheaper.  Plus, we’d already done this once, and knew what we thought we needed.  We only bought the stuff that we thought we needed.

The third child is a totally different thing.  We’ve done this a couple times, but the last one was 5 years ago.  We’d thrown out most of the furniture, car seats, and most of the toys.  We’d also given away most of the other stuff we had.  But, instead of going out and immediately re-buying all that stuff again, we did it the cheap way.  Some friends of ours recently had a child, so we have borrowed a lot of the gadgets.  Car seats, swings, etc all are  from them.  Another friend of ours recently had a baby that had conveniently just grown out of her newborn clothes.  We had an instant closet full of clothes for our baby. There are some other things that we had to go out and buy, but our costs for new things has been pretty minimal.

Of course, there’s no level of borrowing or purchasing that will get us full nights sleep right now. :)

Thinking back, we were early to the baby-making game among our friends.  Borrowing stuff, and receiving hand-me-downs wasn’t really possible with the first two.  I’m glad it is possible here.  I highly encourage you to find as much stuff to borrow if you’ve got friends that have kids.  And it helps if you’ve got friends that have recently had babies too.  Especially when they’re ready to get rid of the boxes of clothes that they’ve gathered.

How do you help make baby cheaper?