I’m trying a new budgeting system. My goal is to spend no more than £50/week on groceries and eating out. The critical part of the plan is that I take out my weekly £50 on Saturday morning, then do my weekly grocery shopping, which usually leaves me about £30 to last me through Friday for any incidental items and the occasional meal at a restaurant.
Did I really just spend this much on a suit?
The idea here is that I’ll be motivated not to spend anything throughout the week because I know I’ll want some cash leftover for Friday. So far it’s been working pretty well and has helped me avoid blowing precious pounds on stupid things like diet pop and deliciously cold pints of beer. In that way, the money budget also keeps me on top of my eating budget, which these days involves lots of beans and lentils (£50 doesn’t go very far in London).
Dumb Little Man has a post about a different kind of budget: a fast food budget (I’m glad I don’t have a problem with that one). He uses this as a strategy for kicking fast food. First, save your receipts for a week then add it all up….
Round that up to the nearest $10 and cut it in half. That’s how much you’ll spend a week from now on … Take that money and put it in a ziplock bag that you keep in your car. All your fast food will be paid for out of this fund, and when it dries up, that’s it until next week. This will force you to ration and make choices.
The idea is, loads of people have figured out how to get out of debt and manage their finances, and now they’re trying to use the same techniques to get their health under control and become as frugal with their food as they are with their money. Get Fit Slowly has an excellent post on this:
One reason people struggle with debt is that they haven’t learned the value of frugality. Instead, they allow themselves to fritter away their earnings dollar by dollar, buying knitting needles, comic books, hunting equipment, or whatever. They do not understand the power of frugality.
Again, the same is true with food. People gain weight (a form of corporeal debt) because they haven’t grasped the consequences of small decisions. A soda with lunch, an extra helping of mashed potatoes, a handful of Hot Tamales from a candy machine — these small indulgences combine to produce a greater effect. When a person fails to practice “food frugality”, it doesn’t manifest itself as financial debt — it’s reflected as fat.
I’m sort of doing this in reverse: I’ve (mostly) managed to become a frugal eater; now I’m trying to do the same with my money. This easy at the moment; I’m out of a regular job so the more money I don’t spend, the longer I can devote to becoming an amazingly successful freelance writer (hire me!). And by spending in cash rather than with a debit card, I can see the consequences of, say, spending £5 on two half pints of expensive Belgian wheat bear: that’s £5 now missing from my wallet.
When it comes to frugality with food, well, the effects aren’t so visible. That’s why I love blogs like Get Fit Slowly: it serves as a reminder that the daily decisions we make with food and with money both add up in the long term. That’s right: £5 saved today means a larger bankroll and a much smaller beer gut many tomorrows from now. Now, enough with all this adult talk about budgets and money. I’m off to daydream about Friday beer.
Blowing my burrito budget (in the car no less)
On Becoming a Frugal Eater [Get Fit Slowly]
How to Kill Your Additions to Junk Food and Soda Pop [Dumb Little Man]