“You have to live like no one else will, so you can live like no one else.”
That’s a phrase from Dave Ramsey that Steven and I are really focusing on this year. We sat down together and really focused on what our financial goals are this year and created starting steps for those goals. To me, this phrase means making temporary sacrifices that “most people” aren’t willing to make for the sake of a brighter and more stable financial future later so that you can live a life that “most people” can’t.
One of the ways we’ve started to do this is to think of it as a spending plan instead of a budget. People associate negative things with the word “budget” and though we don’t think of it that way, attaching a more positive name to it has helped! We find having a plan in place for our money is so freeing (because we do actually plan for some discretionary money each month), and responsible. We’ve been really honing in on this since last summer and it’s been HUGE for us! The big picture for us is to have a solid emergency fund and savings account in the next two years, invest money back into our home, to have no credit card debt, and to have made big strides toward our student loan payments.
When it comes to making a spending plan, you have to look at the big picture. That’s what a lot of people are missing out on and it turns into a negative experience for them. By seeing the big picture for our family, it makes it easy to make these temporary sacrifices because we know they’re temporary. It won’t be like this forever, but we keep that big picture in mind when we decide we can’t go out to eat or go to a movie.
The biggest way we are able to save on purpose instead of on accident (like we were doing for the last five months) is to rearrange our grocery limit. Instead of $200 for two weeks, we brought it down to $175 for two weeks so that way we can put $25 a paycheck into our savings. Sure, that means it’s only $50 a month, but it’s $50 a month guaranteed. Anything extra we get we put into our savings so some months we have more than that and it feels good. But it also feels good to know that we will ALWAYS be putting something into savings. You have to start somewhere!
So, how do I get away with groceries for only $175 every two weeks?
I meal plan for an entire month at a time.
When I first started this, I thought it was going to be SO hard, and it was actually SO EASY! I was actually a little bummed because I had more meals than days in the month, haha. I sit down with a paper, and write out all the dates of the month, and then I start putting down recipes we love, and recipes we want to try. I also account for nights of leftovers throughout. This helps me figure out how much meat I’ll need each month because that’s our biggest expense. Last month chicken was on sale, and since I knew how much chicken I would need I was able to buy THREE 5 pound packages of chicken breasts for $16. I also bought beef in bulk and separated it out into freezer bags. This was such a huge way for us to save money! I’m also finding that the trick is to only cook one or two super involved meals with lots of ingredients a week, or make several different meals that use the same ingredients!
There are a lot of different ways to do this, and I don’t want to bore you with more details, but I wanted to share one way to help save money each month intentionally! If you’re struggling with the idea of making a budget/spending plan, you have to dive right in, and just keep the big picture in mind!
Linda is a Boston-based photographer specializing in weddings and creating family legacies. You can see more of her work online at lindabarryphotography.com, on Instagram, or on Facebook. If you want to reach out directly: email@example.com. To sign up for the monthly newsletter full of encouragement and real life, click here!