Sometimes I feel like I live in a nursery rhyme:
Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
Don’t call the SPCA, but our pets are being affected by the credit crunch. Because the humans are economising, the scraps, which made up a considerable amount of the dog, goat and chicken’s diets, are no longer being wasted. It’s not that the girls and I are reduced to eating scraps – although Danni and I had a close eye on Stevie’s apple core the other day – it’s just that a weekly grocery budget of $100 means we can no longer afford to throw too much away. These days, our meals are more carefully planned and the leftovers are eaten the next day instead of being left to fester. Between you and me, I confess, I am totally ashamed of my wastage and excesses of the past. I was a greedy pig.
So far the cats’ diets remain unchanged. I am spending approximately $17 for 3kg of dry feed for them ($5.70/kg) and plan to source cheaper brands and alternatives. A 3kg bag lasts Yoda and Millie about two weeks (or 60c each a day).
I was blissfully unaware of how much dog roll costs. My pre- budget attitude to grocery shopping was, if I want it, I’ll have it – who cares how much it costs, so I never looked at the prices. Now I am forced to pay attention. Dog roll at the supermarket can cost over $7. A similar product at the farm supplies shop is $5.50. The cheapest dog-roll I have found so far cost $2.50 at the butcher’s. The dog likes them all equally. One dog roll lasts Kiedis about a week (or 42c a day). He’s surprisingly cheaper than the cats.
Deduct the animal food off the weekly spend and it leaves $88.50 for humans (or $4.21 each a day). It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it works out more than the daily pet allowance.
Next Week: How $100 a week is affecting our family.Read More
Slapped cents-less by the global recession, we’re counting on a strict weekly food budget to bring us back to our economic senses. In the holidays, our $100 worth of groceries easily lasted a week, making our goal of buying a rental investment property next year look possible. Then something happened: it was back to school.
“What can we take for lunch, Mum?” was the question of the week.
Staple lunchbox favourites of biscuits, chippies and yoghurts are now an expensive luxury. A pow-wow decided that a can of fruit is a healthy, easy and economic food item to plan lunch around. Just don’t forget the can opener. I thought the girls might get mocked at school for their tin of peaches, but apparently, it’s catching on.
But food wasn’t the only problem. Can you relate to the horror of the extensive, expensive school stationery list, an expense multiplied by the number of students you are buying for? Even before the budget, I dreaded both the boring hunt around the stationery shop to locate the 3B1 notebook or the 1E8 (7mm) maths book and the ensuing large bill. Strictly speaking, the back-to- school stationery items are not officially included in the grocery budget, but every penny counts.
I was intrigued when Danni, 16, and Stevie, 11, announced they had reduced the stationery lists to mere shadows of their former selves by recycling items barely used from previous years. They sifted through the art cupboard’s pens, pencils, half-used books and drawing supplies. The remaining stationery requirements became so minimal that I was able to throw them in the supermarket trolley and still remain well under budget for the week. Who knew an exercise book could be purchased for 29 cents? The grand total expenditure for a year 7 and a year 12 student was $5.11. It’s amazing what you can do if you try.
Next week: How our pets are faring on $100 a week.Read More
Surviving on a grocery budget of $100 a week while keeping the family happy, healthy and clean at both ends is my challenge.
A family meeting ascertained our staple list of grocery items. Brainstorming saw pasta, tuna, apples, veges (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, avocados and capsicum), bread, butter, cheese, tinned fruit and meat on the list. Milk is not listed – sharemilkers can pinch that from the vat, which I hope will deter me from popping out to the shops for the things that invariably accompany the milk purchase.
Groceries don’t stop at food.
Toilet paper is an obvious necessity, cosmetics and bathroom, laundry and kitchen cleaning products are unavoidable purchases. At this early stage of budgeting, we have supplies of half- finished cleaning products, so we’ll finish then and then replenish the supply with a minimum of low-cost replacements.
I plan to locate the cheapest products available using the newspaper and the internet. Unfortunately, the amount of time I can spend on this is limited. If you know of any fantastic special deals, particularly on cleaning products, please contact the paper and let me know. The Plan:
Stick to a list.
If you can’t afford it, do without! Buy bargains.
I don’t want to fall victim to harsh economic times, so it is important for me to economise. My strict grocery budget allows annual savings in excess of $10,000. That is money that previously went down our throats or festered in the fridge for a fortnight before being binned. I hope this disciplined approach to household spending results in a lifetime of better habits. If I live till 82, that’s $400,000 – even if I keep it under the mattress. With this budget, I have nothing to lose – except maybe some extra weight!
Next Week in Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce: Back to School. How we amazingly got food, filled two school stationery orders and remained under the $100 budget.Read More